Thursday, 27 December 2012

A message from Justice for Megrahi

[What follows is the text of a message sent on 24 December by Justice for Megrahi’s secretary, Robert Forrester, to JFM’s signatory members:]

I send you this by way of offering you some festive entertainment and signing off on what has proved to be a remarkably productive 2012.  It commenced with the publication of John Ashton's Megrahi: You are my Jury in February, continued with the lodging of our criminal allegations with Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill in September, and has ended with unanimous cross party support behind [keeping live] our petition for an inquiry into Lockerbie/Zeist at the Justice Committee's December 11th session.

As you are aware, the Crown Office began a media war against JFM and our allegations when it decided to become respondent to a letter which had not been addressed to the Crown (namely, our correspondence with the Justice Secretary requesting that he appoint an independent investigator to study our complaints with a view to commencing criminal proceedings against the individuals we had identified). Whilst JFM has always regarded 21st December as a date on which to respect the dignity and sensibilities of all the bereaved in their grief no matter whether they support the conviction or not, the Crown Office has without fail utilised the date to attempt to convince the public of the safety of the Zeist verdict. Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland did not fail to live up to the tradition of his predecessors in a front page article by Magnus Linklater (Scotland's supreme champion of the conspiracy theory) in the Times (Scotland) under the bizarre headline 'Pro-Megrahi backers flayed by new Lord Advocate'. To be fair to Mr Mulholland, he knew that the Scottish Sunday Express would be publicising an outline of our allegations today so probably felt he had to get his riding crop in first. Perhaps the allusion to flagellation in the headline reflects more accurately what has been taking place round at the Crown Office on Chambers Street since our allegations were submitted to the police on 9th November (...).

If you are a subscriber to The Times online see here the Linklater article:

If you are not a subscriber, it may be viewed here with additional comments from Prof Black:

For today's Scottish Sunday Express article see: (or here:
The JFM press briefing document outlining the eight allegations, which was provided to the Scottish Sunday Express for their article, is now available here:

In finishing, it is interesting to note that, whereas JFM was denied any independent scrutiny of our allegations by the Justice Secretary, in the Linklater article, Mr Mulholland mentions that he invited an outside counsel to conduct an independent review of the evidence and that this mysterious entity has concluded that the conviction was sound. Despite being pressed by the editor of the Scottish Sunday Express to divulge the identity of this 'independent' body - defined only by an indefinite article - the Crown Office has responded that it would not be appropriate to do so. The SCCRC and anyone concerned with any future appeal must be taking considerable interest in the fact that the Lord Advocate claims he is now employing the services of secret bodies to settle the matter in advance.

We clearly have much to talk about in 2013.


  1. No need to publish this, Robert, but I'm just taking a moment to thank you for continuing to work for justice in this travesty of a case. There's no way of knowing just how many people don#t necessarily leave comments but still strongly support your noble efforts though I'm certain that the number is constantly growing.
    Best wishes for the coming year.

  2. Henry, as you see, I did publish, because it gives me the opportunity to thank you. I sincerely appreciate what you say; and it is a real comfort to know that those who express their support in comments on this blog may be just the tip of the iceberg.

  3. Robert, may I second Henry's comment? I haven't posted for a
    while as I haven't had anything new to contribute (at least that I could without being sued by one or two of our legal systems finest)In the background a lot of people are continuing to spread awareness of the case. One gets the feeling that the tide may at last be turning.

  4. In political matters, I have always doubted you can call upon independent opinion, not because it doesn’t exist, but because how can you be sure the selection process that appoints the independent person/s is impartial?

    And even worse, what credence can you give to the appointment when the independent person/s isn’t named or their findings published?

    Appointing or consulting ‘independent opinion’ is often just public relations spin and reminds me of the saying, ‘you get the legal advice you pay for’!

  5. I believe that the Lord Advocate has lost the plot utterly in engaging an outside counsel to "review" the evidence and declare the original conviction sound.

    He has, I believe, no authority to do such a thing and so the findings are utterly irrelevant. In taking such a step in this case however he surely has exceeded his remit and also brought his office into disrepute. To then label, as "conspiracy theorists" those who simply want a clean Scottish Justice System is absolutely insulting given the amount of evidence in the public domain that supports the view that the Megrahi verdict was deeply flawed. Is the SCCRC, then, the leader of a band of conspiracy theorists? I think not. The Commission does not deal in conspiracies, it deals in evidence and it found SIX grounds to suggest a possible miscarriage of justice.

    I think Mulholland's bizarre conduct needs to be investigated immediately. He has gone too far this time and it is high time something was done about him. I hope all Scotland-based readers of this site will contact their MSPs about Mulholland's conduct because I am certain he has breached more than one rule on this occasion.

    The Megrahi case, at this moment in time, (Please keep me right here Prof B) is in limbo and only one of two processes can allow it to be reviewed: one path is via a fresh appeal and the other is via a public inquiry. The Lord Advocate, as far as I am aware, simply does not have the authority to call in some anonymous party to "review the evidence" and make a fresh judgement on the matter. Mulholland is playing games and must be held to account for his reckless and offensive behaviour. He is an absolute disgrace.

  6. I believe that the Lord Advocate has lost the plot utterly....

    You know what, Jo? I agree entirely. Everything he says has "lost the plot" written all over it. This makes me quite optimistic, as it happens.

  7. Jo G wrote:
    I believe that the Lord Advocate has lost the plot utterly in engaging an outside counsel to "review" the evidence and declare the original conviction sound.

    May I join the choir singing 'losing the plot'.

    A external consultant's report could have made fine sense, actually, if:

    1. The result was public.
    2. The investigator was named and willing to participate in a discussion about existing evidence.

    Otherwise it is laughable:

    The legal system is accused of corruption.

    Could we also have an accused in, say, a murder trial paying to have a report made, 'determining he was innnocent'?

    And then a "Sorry, jury, I can't show you the content, and the person who made it is not available for questioning, but please, I hope you find the conclusion important for your verdict".

    Yes, laughable. Unless, of course, our murder-charged friend would go for an insanity-claim. Coming up with something like this might help.

  8. Rolfe

    "You know what, Jo? I agree entirely. Everything he says has "lost the plot" written all over it. This makes me quite optimistic, as it happens."

    Yes: it rather smacks of desperation doesn't it? I like that angle.

  9. He's certainly coming out with some strange pronouncements.

    He deplores the JfM initiative, and thunders that this is something which should be settled in a court of law. But JfM is specifically petitioning for it to be settled in a court of law - by way of prosecuting the people who conspired to pervert the course of justice. How else does he suggest the group should get these matters before a court, other than by reporting their suspicions to the police? Which is of course the very action he deplores.

    He accused JfM of deliberately lying, even before he had seen the full document. Now if there's one thing I can tell him for sure, that is that everyone in JfM believes wholeheartedly in the truth of what is being alleged.

    He accused JfM of accusing others of fabricating evidence. However, JfM has not accused anyone of fabricating evidence.

    He has spoken of defamation against High Court Judges. To the best of my knowledge, nobody accused in the JfM document is a High Court Judge even now, and certainly none of them was a judge at the time in question.

    He has announced that all the JfM allegations have already been considered (by the SCCRC and other bodies) and rejected as baseless. However the details of the allegations are given in the link in the blog post above, and anyone can see that none of these (with the possible exception of the one about the Giaka cables) has even been articulated before, never mind ruled on.

    He seems to be fighting the last war, or even the one before it. The one that says all the issues have already been examined and (apart from the date of the clothes purchase, presumably) been rejected. The one that says a public inquiry is not the way to go, the way to go is a third appeal (secure in the knowledge that the al-Megrahi family is now almost certainly not in a position to mount a third appeal).

    That is not the current war. The current war is the one where JfM has sussed their little game of hiding exculpatory evidence from the court and hoping the defence wouldn't figure out that they were being had for suckers. The one where the evidence that the Bedford suitcase was indeed the bomb has been dragged kicking and screaming from the file where they hoped it would remain hidden. The one where we know that PT/35b was never a part of one of the 20 MST-13 timers Bollier sold to Libya.

    Every time I look at the JfM allegations, the last page reads, "checkmate". What I see in Mulholland is someone who doesn't realise that yet. The Road Runner still running over the thousand-foot drop. The Crown Office seems to be thrashing around trying to find the way to rebut the allegations, without really having figured out what is going on.

    It's less about the allegations than about the basis for the allegations. If they can find some way to maintain that the Bedford suitcase was ruled out incompetently rather than deliberately by all concerned, and that everyone really truly believed the lead was vaporised off in the explosion, then individuals will escape censure. Fine, although forgive me if I continue to disbelieve every word of that.

    What they have to do isn't to exonerate the individuals accused, it is to show that the Bedford suitcase wasn't the bomb, and that PT/35b was indeed part of one of the 20 MST-13 timers.

    I don't think it can be done.

    I don't underestimate the power of the establishment when it turns into a cornered beast, and I expect many more twists and turns before this is finally settled. But the fact remains, we know, now.

  10. Jo, Rolfe, SM, I fully agree.

    Just what did this 'indepentent expert' study in order to provide his or her opinion? Did he just read the Opinion of the Court and say, "Well, that seems reasonable?"

    Or did he take time to study the full transcript?

    Then there's the first appeal and its verdict, and the SCCRC report. There's the actual items of evidence presented in court, and the evidence presented to, but not published by, the SCCRC.

    Judging by the speed of Mr Mulholland's response, his expert hasn't studied much of this material, so his opinion can't carry much weight. And the more of this stuff he's been given privileged access to, the more Mulholland has been exceeding his brief.

  11. Ask yourself, what is the date of this "counsel's report" likely to be? Personally, I'd put money on "not later than 2008".

    I don't think any report has been commissioned recently. I think the Crown Office may have commissioned a report from someone sympathetic when the SCCRC published their report. I think the purpose was to support continuing claims that the Crown believed the conviction was sound, and their continuing to oppose the appeal in 2009.

    I think that's what they've been leaning on as a comfort blanket for the last five years or so, to justify the hard-line position they have been taking. And I think Mulholland just blurted that out, under pressure. Look, we're right, we have this report.

    I could be wrong, but that's my reading of the situation. I don't think Mulholland even knows what the plot is any more.

  12. The thing about Mulholland's position that I find so fascinating is how personally involved he has become in this over such a short period in his post. He is truly engaged in a personal war against those who know the Megrahi verdict was flawed and who just won't shut up about it. It is all so undignified and deeply unprofessional.

    Angiolini could be irritating certainly but Mulholland is publicly insulting people who are simply asking for an open, transparent and fair justice system. He is almost on the verge of hysteria and spitting nails at a particular group while all the while this pile of evidence sits right alongside him and he steadfastly refuses to even look at it.

    He is turning into a cartoon character and every time he opens his mouth to go on the attack he tarnishes the post he currently holds and makes himself look ridiculous.
    I like the Road Runner bit, Rolfe. Would it be a criminal offence to produce such a character with Frank's face on the shoulders? Ah, maybe not but it certainly brings a smile to the face. Or maybe we could just have a picture of him gazing across a group of allotments with another person. We could have captions underneath where the other person says to him, "What's wrong?" and Mulholland replying, "I've lost my plot!"

  13. Ah, but Jo. I do so love the smell of Lord Advocate panic in the mornings.

    A Lord Advocate who has completely lost the plot and is firing off wild, untrue and off-topic allegations against JFM is a great asset, I believe.