Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Crown Office 'threatened with prosecution over Lockerbie documents delay'

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

The Crown Office was threatened with prosecution over delays in handing over key documents about the Lockerbie bombing, it has been claimed.
The Herald newspaper says the warning came from the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) during its investigation into a possible miscarriage of justice in the case.
The Crown Office, which is responsible for preparing prosecutions in Scots courts, said the SCCRC had noted that its responses were often detailed and helpful. (…)
The Herald article suggests that the commission faced a struggle to obtain documentation from the Crown Office during its investigation.
It is understood that one request for papers was not answered for more than a year, and that the SCCRC warned the Crown Office it would take legal action.
The author of a recently-published book about the Lockerbie case, John Ashton, said the revelations would cause embarrassment for the Crown Office.
"This is the first time the extent to which the Crown Office has held back evidence has been revealed," he told BBC Radio Scotland.
"Here we have a detailed account of what the Crown told the commission when the commission was trying to get an explanation for why documents were being withheld from Megrahi's defence."
He said the Crown had a duty to disclose these documents - and claimed that if they had done so, Megrahi would have walked free.
"This is really a scandal, and the Crown must be held accountable for it," he said.
Mr Ashton was asked about claims that payments were made to the key prosecution witness, Tony Gauci, a Maltese shopkeeper who identified Megrahi as a man who bought clothes which were later found in the suitcase which had contained the bomb.
These payments were not made until after the conclusion of Megrahi's first appeal in Kamp van Zeist in the Netherlands in 2002.
Mr Ashton said: "Mr Gauci, the witness in question, knew that rewards were on offer. He'd asked the police about them and he was under the influence of his brother, who was nagging the police, it seems, regularly about this” he said.
He said that was just one of seven pieces of evidence which were not disclosed to the defence team.
"I'm clear that if that evidence had been disclosed to Mr Megrahi's lawyers, it's very unlikely that he would have been convicted," he said.


  1. Robert.

    I won't be happy until I see some government official/politician in the dock for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. That is, end of the day, what this is about.

    Montesquieu would roll in his grave from this.


  2. I'd put Colin Boyd at the head of the queue, myself.