[The Hogmanay and New Year festivities at Gannaga Lodge being now over, may I take this opportunity to wish all the readers of this blog a happy and productive 2014.
Here is an item from the archives, headed Relatives of Lockerbie victims begin new legal fight for public inquiry, first published on 2 January 2010 and based on a report appearing on The Telegraph website :]
UK Families Flight 103, the relatives' campaign group, will use human rights laws in a bid to uncover the truth about the terrorist attack, which claimed 270 lives in December 1988.
The group has hired Gareth Peirce, the prominent human rights solicitor better known for her work representing terror suspects, to devise a legal strategy to secure the inquiry for which families have long campaigned.
It is the first time the families have formally hired lawyers to pursue an inquiry.
The development comes after Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, rejected the group's latest demands for an independent review of the bombing. He informed them of his decision in a letter, dated Christmas Eve, which was received by the relatives last week.
In the letter, Mr Brown said: "All of the matters which you have raised in support of the case for an inquiry are points which were raised at the original trial or the appeal in Scotland, and I do not see that it would be in the public interest to air them again at an inquiry." (...)
Pamela Dix, whose brother Peter was killed in the atrocity, said: "We are arguing that our human rights have been transgressed by the failure to hold an inquiry.
"This is the first time we have hired lawyers to do this. We have until now relied on appealing to the good sense and good nature of our politicians, and that has been to no avail."
The Rev John Mosey, whose daughter Helga, 19, was among the victims when Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie, said: "I feel extremely positive about this development. For 21 years we have been asking the same questions and asking for an inquiry but I think we are nearer to getting it than we have ever been."
Legal tactics used by UK Families Flight 103 are likely to focus on Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, enshrined in British law by the Human Rights Act, which details the right to life.
Previous legal cases have shown that any failure by the state to properly investigate a suspected murder may amount to a breach of the right to life of the victim.
Options open to the families include launching a judicial review of the Government's decision to refuse an inquiry, or using human rights laws to overturn Megrahi's conviction so that ministers are forced to act.
Dr Jim Swire, whose 24-year-old daughter Flora died on the flight, said it was crucial to overturn Megrahi's guilty verdict so that "public outrage" left the Prime Minister with no choice but to allow in independent inquiry into the bombing.
Jean Berkley, who lost her 29-year-old son Alistair, said Mr Brown's letter "was not a well-considered reply" and added: "This is a kind of treatment we are used to receiving. Our perfectly-well thought out points were dismissed in a rather thoughtless way."
[The Prime Minister's letter, dated 24 December 2009, is in reply to the letter delivered by the UK relatives on 27 October 2009. It reads as follows:]
Thank you for your letter of 27 October.
As I said in my letter of 23 October, I am deeply aware of the pain and suffering caused to you and the other families of the Lockerbie bombing victims. You continue to have my deepest sympathies for your loss.
You referred in your previous letters to the need for a public inquiry into the investigation of the Lockerbie bombing and in your letter of 27 October you again referred to the Heathrow incident. As I said in my last letter, the Heathrow incident to which you refer was examined by the Court of Criminal Appeal in Scotland, which concluded that it did not render the conviction of Mr Megrahi unsafe.
All of the matters which you have raised in support of the case for an inquiry are points which were raised at the original trial or the appeal in Scotland, and I do not see that it would be in the public interest to air them again at an inquiry.
I do appreciate that this answer is still not what you were looking for. Please be assured that my thoughts, and those of the Government, remain with you and the other families, especially at what must be a particularly difficult time of year for you all.
[That was four years ago. Obduracy on the part of UK and Scottish Governments has so far stymied the campaign for an independent inquiry. But I am reasonably confident that 2014 will see significant developments leading ultimately to Abdelbaset Megrahi’s name being cleared.]