Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Justice Committee keeps Megrahi petition open

[The following report on the consideration this morning of Justice for Megrahi’s petition by the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee is taken from the website of the Paisley Daily Express:]

A petition calling for an independent inquiry into the Lockerbie bomber's conviction has been kept alive by MSPs.

Holyrood's Justice Committee wants to wait until a "point of conflict" with the live investigation has been resolved, said to be in a matter of weeks.

Committee members were sent a letter from Deputy Chief Constable Patrick Shearer, of Police Scotland, who used to be the top officer at the old Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary.

He rejected accusations that the Crown Office had interfered with police investigations, saying a decision to delay particular inquiries was made by him alone. [RB: The clear recollection of the three members of the Justice for Megrahi committee who attended the relevant meeting with Mr Shearer on 16 August 2013 is set out here in a report produced by JFM’s secretary Robert Forrester.]

It follows concerns raised by pressure group Justice for Megrahi about the way the Crown and police have handled the entire inquiry into the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in December 1988. Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who died last year, was the only man convicted for the atrocity which killed 270 people.

Justice for Megrahi reported Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland to the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) with its concerns about the inquiries.

Before the committee meeting, group secretary Robert Forrester said: "As the 25th anniversary of the Lockerbie tragedy approaches, the Scottish Government has apparently washed its hands of any responsibility for further action in relation to our concerns.

"It is therefore of paramount importance that this affair remains a live issue within the Scottish Parliament and that the Justice Committee continues in its duty to 'scrutinise the policies and performance of the Scottish Government and its agencies in matters related to justice' and ensures that this massive stain on our justice system is not buried in the cause of the unaccountable self-interest of our major prosecution agencies."

The IAP, which was formed as a non-political organisation in 1995, aims to raise standards of professional conduct and ethics for prosecutors across the world, while promoting the rule of law, fairness, impartiality and respect for human rights.

The association can consider whether the complaint amounts to a breach of its standards.

Justice for Megrahi alleges four breaches, covering independence, impartiality, professional conduct and role in criminal proceeding.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Mr al-Megrahi was convicted in a court of law and the Scottish ministers are clear that a court is the only appropriate forum for considering all the evidence in the case and determining his guilt or innocence. Following consideration of all relevant matters, only a criminal court has the power to either uphold or overturn Mr al-Megrahi's conviction.

"It remains open for relatives of Mr al-Megrahi or, potentially, relatives of the Lockerbie bombing victims, to ask the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission to refer the case to the court for a further appeal and as the Cabinet Secretary for Justice made clear to Parliament on 29 February 2012, the Scottish Government would be entirely comfortable if that were to happen.

"In relation to the reporting of Mr MacAskill to the IAP, the Cabinet Secretary has not had any involvement in decisions made by the Crown Office and the police in relation to their consideration of the al-Megrahi case nor their ongoing investigation into the Lockerbie bombing. Indeed, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice is not a prosecutor."

A Crown Office spokesman: "The allegations made by Justice for Megrahi are being considered by DCC Shearer in accordance with due process.

"It is absolutely false that Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service have instructed DCC Shearer not to investigate any of their allegations. It would be inappropriate to offer further comment at this stage."


  1. Excellent news, and another albeit small, but crucially important and progressive move forward by JfM. Those who have sought to deny justice and have fought to hide the truth, are increasingly finding their positions unsustainable.

    As Rawls stated over 40 years ago, 'Justice must be the first virtue of our institutions, as truth is of systems of thought. Laws and institutions, no matter how efficient or well arranged must be reformed if they are unjust. Justice denies that the loss of freedom for some [or one] can never be made right by a greater good shared by others'.

  2. Dear Eddie,

    I'll go with that. In fact, just said something rather similar to the Sec-gen of IAP.

    Pip, pip.