I applaud the Sunday Herald for publishing the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) report into the Lockerbie trial (…)
It is good to know that it was published with the authority of Megrahi himself. The 800 pages are heavy going, but in general they conclude that a miscarriage of justice might have occurred. Without that conclusion any future attempt to challenge the verdict would probably have been in vain. We now know that throughout the Crown Office acted as though it had the right to withhold evidence from the defence at will. This undermines a central tenet of our justice system. Whatever happened to "equality of arms"?
Having finally seen the sections which the Crown had sought to conceal from the court, Richard Keen QC, then for the defence (now Dean of Scotland's faculty of advocates), said of those sections: "Some of the material which is now disclosed goes to the very heart of material aspects of this case, not just issues of credibility and reliability, but beyond."
The SCCRC report covers much of the "credibility and reliability issues" for us, but "beyond" these lies the question of the behaviour of the Crown Office and its investigators. For instance, the SCCRC does not mention the fact that Heathrow airport had been broken into 16 hours before Lockerbie, because that evidence was not examined in the trial court. It couldn't be examined there because although it had been investigated in January 1989, the Crown did not pass a word about it to the defence. Why was that? Well, the current Lord Advocate tells us that he still can't discover why that evidence "went missing".
We the relatives, the judges in the Zeist court and the people of our country need to see these dire aspects investigated. A further appeal would clear Megrahi, I believe, but Scotland needs a full inquiry into the conduct of the Crown Office and their investigators, with new regulations introduced to severely penalise any future failures. Though the Crown Office is a vital part of our legal system they must not be above the law themselves. For all our sakes let's have an inquiry, let's have it now, while the unfortunate Megrahi is still with us.
[Today is Abdelbaset Megrahi’s 60th birthday. A typically mean-spirited article appears in the Daily Express of Monday, 2 April.]