Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Official Report of Justice Committee's deliberations on Megrahi petition

[The Official Report of the session of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee on 11 December 2012 at which Justice for Megrahi’s petition (PE1370) was considered is now available.  The relevant section reads as follows:]

The Convener (Christine Grahame):  I do not use the bing-bong button very often, but I used it there. I will not name names, but members have had 10 minutes. Agenda item 4 is petition PE1370, from the Justice for Megrahi campaign. Members have a paper from the clerk, which sets out the background for our consideration of the petition and includes a submission from the petitioners. Members will note that paragraph 7 of the clerk’s paper says that the petitioners have asked that the committee keep the petition open while Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary considers their allegations. I declare that I am a member of the Justice for Megrahi campaign.Do members have any comments?

John Finnie: I hope that the committee agrees to keep the petition open. The papers that we have from the Justice for Megrahi committee mention significant issues.We should draw a distinction between complaints about service delivery by organisations such as the Crown Office and the police service, and serious accusations against individuals who work for those organisations. There are issues for others to speak about relating to confidential covers that are put on letters and what the expectations about them are from all sides. I certainly understand why the Justice for Megrahi people feel aggrieved about the manner in which the issue came into the public domain. I refer to the end of the first paragraph under the heading “Discussion” on page 5 of paper 3. It seems to me that there is a classic catch-22 situation. There is understandable frustration where there are serious allegations for the Crown Office, which may be expected to act in the roles of judge, jury and accused.There are a number of unresolved issues. For that reason, I sincerely hope that committee members will agree to keep the petition open. That would certainly be the public expectation.

Roderick Campbell:  It remains the case that the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission can consider a previously abandoned appeal. I think that Mr Megrahi died in May. That is not that long a period of time for his family, for example, to have reached a full view on the matter, particularly given the current position in Libya. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to take any formal step and, given the position and the on-going Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary investigation, it seems inappropriate to take a final view on the matter. We should therefore keep the petition open for the  time being.

Colin Keir: I agree.

David McLetchie:  I concur with what John Finnie and Roderick Campbell have said. We should keep the petition open until we get information back from Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary in response to the complaint.There is one thing that I query. As I understood the legislation that we passed in the Parliament earlier this year, it is open to a family member of one of the bereaved to trigger a process. In light of the political background, I understand why that might be difficult for Mr Megrahi’s family who are based in Libya, but I do not quite see why a family member of one of the Lockerbie victims cannot institute that process. We would then be on our way.

The Convener: You may remember that there must be title and interest in pursuing a case. It would probably be a matter for the court to decide whether there was a close enough association, although I am not saying that a bereaved family member could not do that. Therefore, I think that it is not mandatory. I fully agree with keeping the matter open, but I would separate the possible appellate procedure—the resuscitation of it or somebody stepping into the appellant’s shoes—from allegations that are made about the way in which the case was handled. Those matters may collide at some point, but they are distinct from each other at the moment. I agree with John Finnie that, with both of those aspects still alive, there is a public interest issue, and people would expect the committee to allow this petition to continue to breathe oxygen.

Jenny Marra: I think that the petition should be kept open, for all the reasons that have been rehearsed, but particularly because there seem to be unanswered questions with regard to Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary. I would like to see the conclusion of that investigation.

Sandra White: I concur.

Alison McInnes: I also concur.

Graeme Pearson: So do I.

The Convener: It is unanimous.

John Finnie:  It would be appropriate for the committee to keep a watching brief on the issue of the complaint against the Crown Office, which could have implications beyond this specific case. We would need to understand the position ofsomeone tendering such a complaint and how that would be responded to. I would hope, at the very least, that we would maintain an interest in the issue, even if we donot inquire further.

The Convener:  Can we think about what we might do in that regard on another occasion, rather than today? Rather than being proactive, we are keeping the petition open and allowing it to take its own course. The issue that you raise could be dealt with in more detail at another meeting.

John Finnie: Yes.

The Convener:  Thank you. We will keep the petition open, pro tem.


  1. MISSIOM LOCKERBIE, 2012 (google translation, german/english):

    The 'Hillsborough disaster' will be re-examined definitive ...and the 'Lockerbie case' ?

    The football drama with 96 deaths at Hillsborough in 1989 is rolled again. The highest English court repeals the earlier judgments.
    After the 'ok' for a new "Hillsborough investigation", is hoped that the "PanAm 103 crash" concerning the "Lockerbie-Affair" - also gets the 'ok' for a new investigation - after 24 years,,,
    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Switzerland. URL:

  2. It’s at that stage where ‘none dare go forward and none dare go back’.

    The Justice Committee are holding their position on this totemic Scottish issue until the weather breaks!