[What follows is the text of a statement issued this morning by Dr Jim Swire and John Ashton:]
Lockerbie: Lord Advocate refuses to answer questions from Jim Swire and John Ashton
At the launch of the book Scotland’s Shame: Why Lockerbie Still Matters, author John Ashton and Dr Jim Swire released an open letter to the Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland QC.
Their letter said:
In February 2012 John Ashton’s book Megrahi: You are my Jury was published. It revealed, inter alia, that:
1. The Crown had withheld numerous items of exculpatory evidence from Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s legal team prior to his trial.
2. The most important Crown witness, Tony Gauci, had expressed an interest in being rewarded for his evidence before picking out Mr Megrahi’s photograph from a photospread, and that, subsequent to Mr Megrahi’s conviction, he was paid over $2 million by the USDepartment of Justice.
3. That the bomb-damaged piece of circuit board, known as PT/35b, which, according to the Crown, was from a batch of 20 timers that had been supplied to Libya by the Swiss company Mebo, could not have been from one of those timers.
These revelations were based on Crown evidence, much of it previously undisclosed, and, in the case of 1 & 2, the findings of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission. Point 3 was also supported by independent scientists.
In view of the above, we are writing this open letter to ask you the following:
Why did you state that there is no evidence to support the book’s claims and how do you refute points 1 to 3 above?
Why have the three witnesses who attest to point 3 above not been interviewed by the police?
Do you consider that the Crown’s withholding of evidence favourable to Mr Megrahi, as documented by the SCCRC, is compatible with the United Nations International Association of Prosecutors’ standards of professional conduct?
A reply has now been received, not from the Lord Advocate himself, but from the Head of the Crown Office’s serious and organised crime division, Lindsey Miller.
It fails to answer any of the questions.
Dear Dr Swire and Mr Ashton
Thank you for your open letter of 3 October to the Lord Advocate. He has asked me to reply on his behalf.
The Lord Advocate is well aware of his duties as a public prosecutor. As the Crown has stated repeatedly, the only appropriate forum for the determination of guilt or innocence is the criminal court.
The criminal investigation remains live, and the Crown will not make any public comment about the nature of that investigation.
John Ashton said: “A direct question requires a direct answer. Instead, we continue to get evasions. You can only come to the conclusion that the Lord Advocate has no satisfactory answers and is running scared."
Dr Jim Swire said: “Now that there is so much material in the public domain, all who look can see the tragedy of the Crown Office refusal to review their case. How can they deny all errors without looking to see whether those errors are genuine? This is not resolute leadership; I think it must be fear of what they will find when they are eventually forced to look.”