Wednesday, 7 May 2014

SCCRC chief speaks about expected new Megrahi appeal bid

[What follows is a report from the Press Association news agency published today on the website of The Sunday Post:]

Lockerbie review bid expected

A fresh application for a review of the conviction of the only man found guilty of the Lockerbie bombing is expected to be submitted to authorities in Scotland.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) said it expects to receive a request "shortly" for it to look again at the conviction of Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

Megrahi was the sole person to have been found guilty of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Scotland on December 21 1988, in which 270 people were killed.

He abandoned a second appeal against conviction in 2009 after being diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. He was later released from jail by the Scottish Government on compassionate grounds and died protesting his innocence in 2012.

The new application for the conviction to be reviewed is to be made by Jim Swire on behalf of himself and several others.

Dr Swire, whose 23-year-old daughter Flora died in the bombing, has long held the view that Megrahi was not guilty of the atrocity.

The SCCRC is an independent body set up 15 years ago to review alleged miscarriages of justice in Scottish criminal cases.

It can refer a case back to the High Court if it believes a miscarriage of justice may have occurred and that such a move is in the interests of justice. After that point, the case will proceed before judges as a normal appeal.

When a convicted person has died, court rules allow the High Court to consider an appeal where it considers the person taking the case forward has "legitimate interest" in the issue.

SCCRC chief executive Gerard Sinclair said there are several matters which will affect the timescale for the body to be able to deal with a fresh application.

Looking at these matters could take some time, he warned.

"Even before deciding whether to accept this new application for review, the commission will require to consider a number of preliminary matters relating to the application," he said.

"These include whether Dr Swire has a 'legitimate interest' to pursue, on behalf of Mr Megrahi, an application to the commission and any subsequent appeal."

The commission could ask the High Court for a formal opinion on the matter, he said.

He went on: "If it is decided that Dr Swire has a 'legitimate interest' in this matter, the commission will also require to address whether it is 'in the interests of justice' to accept for a further review the conviction of Mr Megrahi, taking account of the statutory requirement for 'finality and certainty' in criminal proceedings.

"In considering this matter, the commission will be required to address the fact that Mr Megrahi abandoned his appeal in 2009 after a referral from the commission and that neither he nor any member of his family lodged an application for a further review of his conviction prior to his death in May 2012. Consideration of these matters could take some time.

"As this is a fresh application, if it is then accepted for review, the commission will have to allow some time for board members to acquaint themselves with the terms of the application and the basis for the previous review and referral, as none of the present members of the SCCRC were members at the time the matter was previously referred in 2007.

"Likewise, if this case is accepted for review, the commission will require to address the various grounds of review, taking account of any changes in the law since the application was previously reviewed and carry out relevant inquiries and investigations.

"It is anticipated, therefore, that, if there is to be a further review of this conviction, any such review will take some time to complete."

Megrahi lost his first appeal against his murder conviction in 2002. [RB: The circumstances in which this appeal was lost are described here, in the section headed “The Appeal”.]

The following year, he applied to the SCCRC for a review of his conviction and his case was referred by the commission to the High Court for a new appeal in 2007.

His bid to drop his second appeal against conviction was accepted by judges in Edinburgh in August 2009.

Twenty-five relatives of the Lockerbie bombing victims are said to have agreed to support the new application to clear Megrahi's name.

Dr Swire told BBC Scotland: "I have a privilege of representing about 25 British relatives. These are people who want to know the truth about who murdered their families. They want the public to know the truth about how, they believe, they have been deliberately kept from knowing the truth themselves by our Government."

A Crown Office spokesman said: "We do not fear scrutiny of the conviction by the SCCRC. The evidence upon which the conviction was based was rigorously scrutinised by the trial court and two appeal courts after which Megrahi stands convicted of the terrorist murder of 270 people.

"We will rigorously defend this conviction when called upon to do so. In the meantime we will continue the investigation with US and Scottish police and law enforcement."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Mr Al-Megrahi was convicted in a court of law, his conviction was upheld on appeal, and that is the only appropriate place for his guilt or innocence to be determined.

"Following consideration of all relevant matters, only a criminal court has the power to either uphold or overturn Mr AI-Megrahi's conviction.

"The Scottish Government has always been clear that it is comfortable for relatives of Mr Al-Megrahi or relatives of the Lockerbie bombing victims to apply to the commission to consider referring Al-Megrahi's case.

"And, of course, the Lockerbie case remains a live investigation, and Scotland's criminal justice authorities have made clear that they will rigorously pursue any new lines of inquiry."


  1. All,

    Quite apart fro the reprehensible reaction of COPFS reflected in their attitude to this news, and the fact that Gerard Sinclair makes great play on how long this could take, his comment here below, I find most interesting:

    The commission could ask the High Court for a formal opinion on the matter, he said.

    My understanding of the role of the SCCRC post 'Cadder' has been that the appellant submits a case to the SCCRC, the SCCRC then does its homework, and, if it finds there are sufficient grounds for appeal, they refer it to the High Court, thenceforth, it is down to the High Court to accept or reject the referral. This business of asking the High Court for an initial opinion rather looks like the SCCRC looking for a way out of doing their homework on the ground that, well, the High Court would have rejected it anyway.

    I find it strange that the SCCRC, who functioned perfectly well pre 'Cadder' then found itself emasculated and effectively redundant, would wish to take such an approach. Perhaps it is a self defensive political ploy to blame the High Court for putting the kybosh on the referral from the start so that the SCCRC can turn round and say: "Well, it wusnae our fault that we didn't have to do our homework. If that is the case, it is as reprehensible as the position of COPFS.

    Robert Forrester.


  2. MISSION LIFE WITH THE "LOCKERBIE AFFAIR", 2014 - Go to new facts on ground ... (google translation, german/english):

    With the new ongoing criminal investigation in Switzerland over the unauthorized disclosure of an MST-13 print circuit board (prototype) shall crack the "Lockerbie NUT" and will lay open - one of the best kept "secrets".


    Mit der neuen laufenden Strafuntersuchung in der Schweiz, über die unerlaubte Weitergabe einer MST-13 Printplatine (Prototyp) wird die "Lockerbie NUSS" knacken - und eines der best gehüteten "Geheimnisse" offnenlegen.

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Telecommunication Switzerland. Webpage:

  3. The miscarriage of justice in the Lockerbie case against the ex official Mr. Abdelbaset al Megrahi (unfortunately deceased) will end in a tangible Scottish legal scandal!

    Das Fehlurteil im Lockerbie Fall, gegen den ex offiziellen Mr. Abdelbaset al Megrahi, (leider verstorben) wird in einem handfesten schottischen Justiz Skandal enden!

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd.

  4. Give us a break, Edwin. You may have millions and/or a prison sentence resting on this, but, we haven't. So shut up for a change, matey. You are a total bore. leave it to the professionals.

  5. Thank you for the flowers, Mr. Super Professional, Quincey Riddle

  6. No. Edwin. You've got me wrong. I'm not one of the professionals, but I know the folk who are. I'm just a functionary. Watch and wait.

  7. Forgot to mention. The flowers came gratis, including delivery.

  8. I did write to Mr Sinclair pointing out that the conclusion of the SCCRC Statement of Reasons that page 51 of Dr Hayes notes dated the 12th May 1989 was "quite consistent" with photograph 117 of the 22nd May 1989 and that there was no reason to doubt the authenticity of either was obviously and self-evidently untenable. I suggested that he review this conclusion.

    His response was that he received a lot of letters concerning the Lockerbie case and they were not reviewing the case!