Sunday, 18 March 2012

See them squirming!

[Today's edition of Scotland on Sunday contains a report headlined Megrahi probe 'failed to speak to FBI agents'. It reads in part:]
The former FBI officer who oversaw the Lockerbie investigation has criticised the Scottish legal body that cast doubt on the conviction of Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi.
Oliver “Buck” Revell, the former associate deputy director of investigations for the Federal Bureau of Investigations, has reacted angrily to the examination into the case by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC).
In an e-mail seen by Scotland on Sunday, Revell expressed frustration that no-one from the FBI was consulted by the SCCRC when it compiled its report into the safety of Megrahi’s conviction.
The controversy surrounding the Lockerbie trial re-ignited following the publication of John Ashton’s book Megrahi: You Are My Jury, in which the convicted bomber – now back in Libya after being released on compassionate grounds as he is suffering from terminal cancer – proclaims his innocence.
The furore increased when extracts of the SCCRC’s report were leaked last week.
Excerpts from the confidential SCCRC Statement of Reasons document, which gave Megrahi, 59, grounds for appeal, identified six different areas that could have constituted a miscarriage of justice.
Publicity surrounding the document has angered investigators who headed up the US arm of the inquiry into the killing of 270 people when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie in December 1988.
In his e-mail to government and legal officials in Scotland and the US, Revell complained that the SCCRC failed to interview members of the FBI for its Statement of Reasons. The e-mail pointed out that the original Lockerbie investigation was carried out by Scottish police, Scotland Yard, the German BKA and the FBI.
Revell added: “I don’t know what the SCCRC expects to determine when it is not even interviewing the actual investigators involved in solving this terrible crime.”
The SCCRC document is said to have concentrated on Tony Gauci, the Maltese shopkeeper who testified that Megrahi bought clothes from his shop which were later found in the suitcase carrying the bomb.
The SCCRC also focused on “undisclosed evidence”, including a police statement that showed Gauci had been handed a magazine with a photograph of Megrahi weeks before he singled him out in an identity parade.
Also identified by the SCCRC was undisclosed evidence about Gauci’s interest in rewards. The SCCRC discovered three police documents that indicated that, before first picking out Megrahi from a photo line-up in 1991, Gauci was aware a substantial reward was on offer from the US government.
Ashton’s book claimed that a Scottish policeman’s diary entry recorded an FBI agent saying that he had the authority to arrange “unlimited money” for Gauci. The Commission was unable to establish whether the FBI had actually made an offer.
One of Revell’s senior colleagues Richard Marquise, the FBI agent, who led the Lockerbie investigation on the ground, said that as far as he was aware no money had changed hands.
Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Marquise said: “On the issue of witnesses being paid, no witness [was paid] to my knowledge. What some police officer or FBI agent might have told somebody in the corner in a dark room in the middle night that I don’t know about, I can’t vouch for that. But everybody that worked for me were under orders that they were not allowed to tell people that they could get money for this case. So, as far as I know, nobody was promised or paid money to testify.” [RB: Wow! Contrast with this and this (at pages 148 to 170).]
Revell’s disappointment at the FBI’s lack of involvement was shared by Marquise.
He said: “I don’t know if you can say you have done a comprehensive report unless you speak to key people.
“To me it is an incomplete report whatever they are going to publish.
“They never did speak to the people who might be able to shed some light on whatever it is that they were looking to find out.
“If you are going to say you have done a complete investigation, you should talk to everybody who was key, and I like to think people in the FBI were key. I like to think some people in the CIA were key and they could and should have been interviewed.”

[An editorial in today's edition of the Sunday Herald reads as follows:]

The arrest yesterday of Libya's former spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi could at last shed some much-needed light on the Lockerbie atrocity. [RB: The paper's news report can be read here.]

Ifanyoneknowsthedetails of Libya's involvement – or non-involvement – in that terrible mass murder, it is Senussi.
As our sister paper The Herald made clear in reports last week, there remain serious doubts over the guilty verdict delivered on Abdelbaset Mohmed Ali al-Megrahi.
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission has suggested that, among other flaws in the court case, evidence important to the defence was kept from Megrahi's lawyers.
There are doubts too over the circumstances surrounding Megrahi's eventual release on compassionate grounds to allow him to return home ''to die''.
We have heard suspicions that Westminster politicians were acting behind the scenes to encourage the release. And there has been a strenuously denied claim that Holyrood Justice secretary Kenny MacAskill had suggested Megrahi's chances of release would be greatly boosted if he were to drop his appeal.
It is unfortunate, to say the least, that the appeal was dropped. The best place to test Megrahi's conviction would have been in court. For reasons that remain unclear, the appeal looks unlikely to be revived.
The vacuum around the case has acted as a breeding ground for countless conspiracy theories.
If Senussi holds the key to unlocking some of the Lockerbie mysteries, we need to discover what he knows.


  1. "So, as far as I know, nobody was promised or paid money to testify.”

    I recall Marquise has said this kind of thing before. He argues that they (Gaici, Giaki)were not paid their millions of dollars BECAUSE they testfied. They were offered and received money because they supplied evidence which led to the conviction of Abdelbasset.I think Marquise claims an impossibly small difference between between supplying evidence and actually testifying.

  2. I'm sure I recall Lord Fraser taking exactly the same line for years until an interview more recently when he admitted that it seems that Gauci was paid. I can't find it on youtube but I'm sure its out there. But should we even listen to a man who says that Edinburgh and Glagow airports will be bombed by the RAF after independence?
    Buck, Dick and Baron Fraser of Carmyllie! Is it any wonder they got the wrong guy?

  3. a brief history of Mr Marquise's comments about payment to witnesses can be found here:

  4. And yet, Aku, I know there is a note in one of the police diaries discussing the possibility of payments to Tony Gauci that says clearly "only if he testifies".