[What follows is the text of a press release issued this afternoon by Justice for Megrahi:]
CROWN OFFICE’S “ABSOLUTELY FALSE” CLAIM REFUTED BY JUSTICE FOR MEGRAHI -- three members “crystal-clear” about conversation with Deputy Chief Constable
Justice for Megrahi (JFM) has responded to media statements yesterday by the Crown Office that JFM claims the Crown had stopped a police chief investigating a number of criminal allegations related to the 1988 Lockerbie disaster were ‘absolutely false’.
‘‘JFM takes great exception to the implication in yesterday’s Crown Office statement to the media that JFM’s claims about Crown Office interference in a police investigation were false.
“The three members of JFM who met with the police in relation to their allegations are crystal-clear about what was said. If the Crown Office wishes to ascertain the facts or clarify the situation, it would be better to meet privately with those concerned. Instead they engage, not for the first time, in public vilification of a group who, in the face of Crown Office opposition, are trying to have a public inquiry mounted into the circumstances surrounding the Lockerbie tragedy in 1988.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
In 2012 the Justice for Megrahi organisation formally lodged eight criminal allegations against British nationals representing the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary (now termed Police Scotland Dumfries and Galloway Division) and forensic officials.
The allegations concerned perverting the course of justice, perjury and the breach of section 44(2) of the Police (Scotland) Act 1967 (violation of duty by a constable) for their conduct during the investigation of the downing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie on 21 December 1988 and the subsequent legal proceedings. These allegations were made to the police under protest as the members of JFM believed that the Crown Office and police should not be investigating allegations against themselves and that Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill should order an independent investigation.
In August of this year, three members of the JFM group - Professor Robert Black QC, Mr Iain McKie and Mr Robert Forrester - had a meeting with Deputy Chief Constable Shearer who had been directed by the Crown Office to investigate their allegations. He told them that during his enquiries the Crown Office had instructed him not to investigate three of their criminal allegations.
JFM subsequently reported this fact to the media and to various organisations. These included the Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament as part of their evidence submitted in support of a petition they had lodged calling for a public inquiry in connection with the investigation of the downing of Pan Am 103 and the subsequent legal proceedings.
As this petition was being considered this week in the Scottish Parliament by the Justice Committee, Deputy Chief Constable Shearer submitted a letter to the committee stating that, at his August meeting with the three JFM members, he had not told them that he had been instructed by the Crown Office not to investigate three of the allegations and that ’the decision not to pursue these allegations at this time rests with me alone.’
The Crown Office followed up this extraordinary denial in a media statement:
"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.”