Monday, 26 March 2012

Lockerbie inquiry calls grow

[This is the headline over a report in today’s edition of The Herald.  It reads in part:]

Fresh calls for an inquiry into the Crown Office handling of the Lockerbie bombing trial were made after The Herald's sister paper [the Sunday Herald] published the full report of the legal grounds for the second appeal of the man convicted of the atrocity.

First Minister Alex Salmond praised the Sunday Herald for publishing the full 800-page report by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates potential miscarriages of justice, on our website.
The publication has sparked hopes of a new appeal in the name of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.
Gerard Sinclair, the SCCRC's chief executive, said: "The commission has always been willing to allow for publication of the outcome of our inquiries into Mr Megrahi's conviction."
However, the Crown Office said some actions of those fighting to clear Megrahi were "to be deplored" while insisting they have "every confidence" of defending the conviction in the event of an appeal. (…)
The First Minister added: "This report provides valuable information, from an independent body acting without fear or favour, and while we cannot expect it to resolve all the issues, it does however lay the basis for narrowing the areas of dispute and in many ways is far more comprehensive than any inquiry could ever hope to be."
Holyrood Justice Committee convener Christine Grahame said: "There are allegations in the report that the Crown Office withheld crucial evidence that might have been substantive evidence to assist the defence.
"Where we have an allegation, I would wish the Crown to be able to establish that this is unfounded." 

[A report in today’s edition of The Scotsman headlined Megrahi case report turns upheat on Crown Office contains the following:]
SNP MSP Christine Grahame, convenor of Holyrood’s justice committee, seized on the online publication of the report to demand an inquiry into the Crown Office’s handling of Megrahi’s last appeal case be called.
She said that the report was “highly significant” after the document contained allegations that the Crown Office had withheld crucial evidence about the case. (…)
Ms Grahame said: “The question now is where to go from here, and I would suggest there are routes to take,” she said.
“There are allegations in the report that the Crown Office withheld crucial evidence that might have been substantive evidence to assist the defence, and I think there is a question about how the Crown Office acted.”
The MSP claimed that it would be “quite possible” for his family, after Megrahi’s death, to “step into the dead man’s shoes and resuscitate the appeal with the leave of the court”. [RB: There is no legal mechanism for such resuscitation. What would have to happen is a fresh application to the SCCRC and, assuming it surmounted the "interests of justice" hurdle and a fresh appeal was allowed, the High Court could then refuse to hear the appeal under the powers conferred on it by section 7 of the Cadder emergency legislation.]
Meanwhile, Mr Salmond said that the publication of the report was “far more comprehensive” than any inquiry into the case would be.
He said: “I welcome the publication in full of this report, which is something that the Scottish Government has been doing everything in our powers to facilitate.I especially welcome the fact that it offers a full account of the SCCRC’s deliberations rather than partial accounts which have appeared in the media.”

[In today’s Daily Record George Galloway’s column reads as follows:]

I've never believed the Lockerbie verdict that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was guilty of the Lockerbie bombing in 1988.
Now the long hushed-up, 800-page report on the case by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission has concluded that a miscarriage of justice almost certainly occurred.
The contents of the report had been known to those in the know - the Scottish government, senior lawyers, the dogs in the street even - for more than five years.
It hasn't been published on the spurious grounds that there were data protection issues involved.
I ask, in passing, has anyone ever been convicted under the Data Protection Act?
The report details six different grounds on which Megrahi could have been the victim of a miscarriage of justice. I prefer the words fitted-up.
The whole report is now available on various websites, but basically the conclusion is that crucial evidence was not disclosed to the defence.
This includes a cover-up of secret intelligence ­documents and uncertainty over the date on which Megrahi was supposed to have bought clothes in Malta.
And the fact that the key witnesses against him had been paid £1.9million to testify, and one of the two Maltese brothers had a seen picture of Megrahi stating he was the bomber before he picked him out at an identification parade.
It's right that the report should be belatedly published, the follow-up should be an investigation of those who conspired to have Megrahi scapegoated.
[A report in the Daily Mail can be read here; one in the Daily Express here; and one in The Times (behind the paywall) here, which contains the following:]

Gerard Sinclair, the SCCRC’s chief executive, said the commission had always been willing to publish the report, “subject to the appropriate protection of individuals’ rights, and to that end has been working for some time with the relevant parties, including the Crown Office and both the Scottish and UK Governments, to allow for publication of the outcome of our inquiries into Mr Megrahi’s conviction.”

Alison McInnes, the Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman, also welcomed the publication of report. She said: “It is vital for Scotland that our justice system is open and transparent.”


  1. So, the Crown Office reckons some of our actions are "to be deplored". I would be delighted to enter into a debate with any member of the Crown office to clarify precisely which actions (and by whom) they are referring to and why the Crown Office finds them so deplorable. In the spirit of open debate I think I could point to an action or two from the crown Office which might fall into that "deplorable" category.

  2. I couldn't agree more, Aku. Here's one example:

  3. MISSION LOCKERBIE, 2012, (google translation, german/english):

    The SCCRC-report is "highly significant" the Crown Office had withheld crucial evidence about the operational covert activities, for example with Swiss "BUPO" security, in connection with the Scottish "Officials"-- solid starting with the important meeting from 24/25 May 1989 at Bern/Switzerland.

    These covert activities Starts of beginning of 1989 to September 1990, was not supported by the official legal assistance from Lord Advocate in Scotland. The official legal aid for Scotland started first on 1st October 1990.
    In the SCCRC report can be found on this affair only "White Paper"...

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd Telecommunication Switzerland. URL: