Monday, 27 February 2012

Lockerbie: Author claims new evidence proves timer did not come from Libya

[This is the headline over a report published this afternoon on the STV News website.  It reads in part:]

New evidence allegedly proves the timer used in the Lockerbie bombing could not have come from Libya. The claims have been made in Megrahi’s book (...) launched on Monday.

The author, John Ashton, claims the evidence he has uncovered "destroys the case" against both Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and Libya.Mr Ashton has written the book based on exclusive interviews with Megrahi.
He is a writer, researched and TV producer who spent three years as a researcher with Megrahi’s legal team.
At the launch on Monday, Mr Ashton showed a picture of a circuit board which was found in the wreckage of Pan Am flight 103. It is allegedly part of the timer from the bomb on board the plane.
He said the judges at Megrahi’s trial accepted it was identical to timers sold in Libya.
Just 20 timers were supplied to Libya by Swiss company Mebo. They had been made to order by another company. The fragment was found in a shirt collar linked to Megrahi and examination found the pattern patched the circuit boards sold to Libya.
But, Mr Ashton claims the coating on the fragment was not the same as that applied to the Libyan circuit boards. He says this means the timer could not have come from the country.
The author claims the Crown were told this in a 1992 report but the scientists did not "appreciate its significance".
Mr Ashton said: "Had this evidence been explored at Mr Megrahi’s trial, it’s very hard to see how he could have been convicted."
He claims there is other evidence contained in the book, some of which was not handed over to the Crown. (…)
In response to the book, a spokesperson for the Crown Office said: "The Crown has defended Mr al-Megrahi’s conviction including the appeal proceedings resulting from the SCCRC referral. The decision to discontinue the appeal proceedings was taken by Mr al-Megrahi and his legal team. In light of his abandonment of his appeal, the conviction for the murder of 270 people and the judicial determination of his guilt stand.
"The only appropriate forum for the determination of guilt or innocence is the criminal court. Mr Megrahi was convicted unanimously by three senior judges following trial during which the evidence was rigorously tested and his conviction was upheld unanimously by five judges, in an Appeal Court presided over by the Lord Justice General, Scotland’s most senior judge.
"As the investigation remains live, it would not be appropriate to offer further comment."
[It is sad, but regrettably not unexpected, to see the Crown Office trotting out the worn old canard that the Zeist verdict was supported by the five-judge appeal court. As I have said before on this blog:]
This is, of course, wholly false. As the appeal judges state in paragraph 369 of their Opinion:

“When opening the case for the appellant before this court Mr Taylor [senior counsel for Megrahi] stated that the appeal was not about sufficiency of evidence: he accepted that there was a sufficiency of evidence. He also stated that he was not seeking to found on section 106(3)(b) of the 1995 Act [verdict unreasonable on the evidence]. His position was that the trial court had misdirected itself in various respects. Accordingly in this appeal we have not required to consider whether the evidence before the trial court, apart from the evidence which it rejected, was sufficient as a matter of law to entitle it to convict the appellant on the basis set out in its judgment. We have not had to consider whether the verdict of guilty was one which no reasonable trial court, properly directing itself, could have returned in the light of that evidence.

The true position, as I have written 
elsewhere, is this:

"As far as the outcome of the appeal is concerned, some commentators have confidently opined that, in dismissing Megrahi’s appeal, the Appeal Court endorsed the findings of the trial court. This is not so. The Appeal Court repeatedly stresses that it is not its function to approve or disapprove of the trial court’s findings-in-fact, given that it was not contended on behalf of the appellant that there was insufficient evidence to warrant them or that no reasonable court could have made them. These findings-in-fact accordingly continue, as before the appeal, to have the authority only of the court which, and the three judges who, made them."

1 comment:

  1. Other than Scottish outlets - the British media seem to be conspicuously avoiding getting involved over revisiting the Lockerbie situation - even though it appears to be an 'open goal'. They quickly pilloried Kenny MacAskill for facilitating the release of Mr. Megrahi, but as the evidence builds to expose the Judiciary, and
    UK/US governments in a mega scandal - our renowned Media have all but disappeared from sight. Should we ask why?
    Further, our Prime Minister needs to consider how foolish his persistent and vehement assertion that the correct man has been convicted, is going to look to the public when the House of Cards comes inevitably crashing down.