Monday, 24 September 2012

Hillsborough-Pan Am 103 links laid before Justice Committee

[This is the headline over an article published today on the website of Scottish lawyers’ magazine The Firm.  It reads as follows:]

The Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament has been told by the Justice for Megrahi campaign group that the Pan Am 103 debacle bears parallel’s with “England’s shame”, the Hillsborough cover up.

In its submission to the committee ahead of tomorrow’s hearing of a petition calling for an inquiry into the affair, the Justice for Megrahi group say the efforts of the government to protect “wrongdoers” was prioritised ahead of the protection of innocent people.

The JFM campaigners also say that a further criminal appeal may be raised in the event the committee does not convene an inquiry.

“The outcome of the Hillsborough enquiry has undoubtedly shone a light on the inner workings of a justice system that purported to keep its citizens safe and secure,” the submission says.

“Now we can see that protection of the system and the wrongdoers within it took precedence over protection of the individual citizen. Indeed efforts were made to transfer blame to innocent third parties.

“If Hillsborough was England’s shame then Lockerbie is Scotland’s, and much of the indifference and arrogance identified within the former can be identified in the latter. We applaud the open- minded approach of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, and hope to see a similar scrutiny of the Lockerbie investigation, without fear or favour.”

Writing exclusively in The Firm last week, Dr Jim Swire also said the Hillsborough cover up was part of a consistent pattern of the Government in instances where it was at fault after the fact, such as the Chinook crash in 1994, the Shirley McKie affair and the Bloody Sunday events.

The issue will be discussed at a Firm Event addressed by Professor Robert Black QC, taking place in Glasgow tomorrow.

The JFM campaigners say that the possibility exists for a further appeal to be initiated by the executors or immediate family of Abdel Baset Al Megrahi, under the provisions of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, section 303A, which permit’s the transfer of the rights of appeal of a deceased person.

The committee adds that if the al-Megrahi family opt not to pursue it, “the door may be open for bereaved families” to do so.

“Whilst for some the death of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi on 20 May this year may have changed the tenor of the debate surrounding the 1988 Pan Am 103 tragedy, it has not deflected the determination of campaigners seeking justice for the 270 victims of the disaster and an independent inquiry into the conviction of Mr al-Megrahi for the atrocity,” the group adds.

“Events of 2012 have only strengthened the argument for an inquiry.”

The campaigners have also sent a letter to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, lodging serious formal allegations relating to the conduct of the Lockerbie investigation and the Kamp van Zeist trial.

“Out of respect to Mr MacAskill, JFM does not propose to go public with the text of the letter or to divulge detail concerning the precise nature of the allegations for a period of thirty days from 13 September, in order to allow Secretary MacAskill sufficient latitude to respond,” the group said.

“The manner in which the allegations are dealt with could have a direct bearing on [the petition].”  

[This story has now been picked up on the Scotsman website. It can be read here.]

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