A commentary on the case of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, convicted of the murder of 270 people in the Pan Am 103 disaster.
Sunday, 25 March 2012
Statement by John Ashton on the release of the SCCRC report
[What follows is
the text of an item just published on John Ashton’s Megrahi: You are my Jury website:]
today publishing, in conjunction with the Sunday
Herald, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission’s report on that
conviction. It will be available for downloadhereat midday and can already be viewed on
Megrahi wishes it to be published because he believes the public has a right to
know what the commission uncovered during its four-year investigation.
Publication also gives the lie to the claim that he is blocking the report’s
The report makes shocking reading. The commission concluded that
Mr Megrahi may have suffered a miscarriage of justice on no fewer than six
grounds. One of these is that the guilty verdict was, in the report’s words,‘at least arguably one which no reasonable court, properly
directed, could have returned’.By any measure, this was a remarkable
rebuke to the three senior law lords who heard the case.
it is the Crown who will be most embarrassed by publication. This is because
four of the six grounds concern its failure to disclose important evidence to
Mr Megrahi’s lawyers. There were seven such documents, which are described, in
chapters 23 to 25. Those chapters and chapter 26 describe numerous other
significant undisclosed documents.
Three of the seven concern reward payments to two key Crown
witnesses, Tony and Paul Gauci. The commission established that after Mr
Megrahi’s conviction each were‘paid sums of money under the
“Rewards for Justice” programme administered by the US Department of State.’Police correspondence reveals
that the Crown was prevented by its own rules from seeking this reward, yet did
not stop the police from doing so.
Crown’s failure to disclose all of this evidence is a disgrace, for which it
must be held to account.
am sending a copy of the report to the justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill, who
has acknowledged that he has not seen it. When he has read it, he will no
longer be able to cling to the fiction, which continues to be promoted by his
government colleague the Lord Advocate, that Mr Megrahi’s conviction is safe.
only redactions we have made are to protect the identity of certain people and
the privacy of Mr Megrahi’s family and his co-accused, Lamin Fhimah. Mr Megrahi
does not agree with all of the report’s conclusions, some of which are not
favourable to him, however, he has nothing to fear from their publication.
that the report is published, the focus of public debate on Lockerbie should
shift away from the rights and wrongs of Mr Megrahi’s release to the scandal of