Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Lockerbie Revealed: The secret report that damns Scottish justice

[This is the headline over the lead story by Lucy Adams in today’s edition of The Herald.  The following are just a few paragraphs from the long article:]

A damning secret report has revealed the flawed handling of the Lockerbie case by Scottish prosecutors and the key documents not disclosed to the defence team which could have cleared the Libyan convicted of the atrocity.

The full 821-page Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) dossier, which has been seen by The Herald, uncovers serious discrepancies in the Crown Office's reasons for not disclosing vital information.
The Herald can reveal the commission – whose job it is to review cases post-appeal and investigate whether a miscarriage of justice may have occurred – even wrote to the Crown warning it would take legal action if the prosecution did not hand over important documents and speed up information sharing.
The SCCRC rejected many of the defence team's submissions but upheld six different grounds which could have constituted a miscarriage of justice.
The Crown failed to disclose seven key items of evidence that led to the Lockerbie case being referred back for a fresh appeal.
The SCCRC made clear that, had such information been shared with the defence, the result of the trial could have been different. (…)
Robert Black, QC, one of the architects of the Camp Zeist trial, said: "I don't think there could possibly have been a guilty verdict if the Crown had disclosed to the defence all the material they had in their possession and they were obliged to disclose, even as the law on disclosure stood in 2000/01.
"Why didn't the Crown disclose? Was it because they convinced themselves getting a guilty verdict was more important than obeying 'technical' rules – after all, this was a terrorism case?
"The law about disclosure was clarified after the Zeist trial. But even in 2000/01 the law as it stood would have required the Crown to disclose all the material they withheld. I am delighted The Herald is unveiling this information."
[In an accompanying article headed Six key points that cast doubt on Megrahi's guilt, John Ashton discloses the six grounds on which the SCCRC concluded that the conviction of Abdelbaset Megrahi might have amounted to a miscarriage of justice. Another short article is headlined Main players: The people who were key to the storyAn editorial in the same newspaper headed Lockerbie: inching closer to the truth contains the following:]


This newspaper has taken a close interest in the case over many years and has revealed a number of significant developments (…) In consequence, we have consistently called for publication of the SCCRC report and for a public inquiry into the case. Having seen the report, we are now further convinced that publication and investigation are necessary if justice is to be served and the Scottish legal system is to retain public confidence.
It must be of serious concern that the Crown not only failed to share significant information with the defence leading up to the trial in 2000 at Camp Zeist in The Netherlands but also subsequently delayed providing the SCCRC with documents and then said it did not hold certain records. (…)
 It is increasingly difficult to argue the report should be withheld to comply with data protection law and the Scottish Government should push for permission to publish in the interest of shedding light on a conviction that, far from closing the case on Britain's worst terrorist atrocity, has, with the passage of time and the growing volume of revelations, raised questions about the integrity of Scottish justice.
Taking account of our disclosures today and tomorrow, the case for a public inquiry has become even more compelling.

[John Ashton's post "The Herald reveals SCCRC report contents" on his website Megrahi: You are my Jury can be read here.]

1 comment:

Jo G said...

"Taking account of our disclosures today and tomorrow, the case for a public inquiry has become even more compelling."

Absolutely but only one thing can bring it about and that is to keep the pressure on the political establishments both north and south of the border: for their conduct in this, just like the conduct of the Scottish Judiciary, amounts to nothing less than the obstruction of justice.

They must be openly challenged. Senior figures in all Parties. Interview them, name them, put this report to them, make them read it. If they will not endorse calls for justice over Lockerbie the Herald must ask them why and publish their responses. For in the face of such overwhelming evidence any explanation as to why nothing should be done really has to be heard!

Mr MacAskill especially can no longer claim he "doesn't know" what is in the SCCRC report. He knows now although some of us found the SCCRC announcement, in June 2007, that it had found six grounds to suggest a possible miscarriage of justice, enough at the time to support the case for a second appeal. It is a pity that politicians of all Parties have since been hellbent on denying all of us justice, not least the dead at Lockerbie, up to and including allowing the Scottish Judiciary to delay the hearing of the appeal for more than two years.