Monday, 2 June 2014

Justice for Megrahi submission to Scottish Parliament Justice Committee

[What follows is the text of Justice for Megrahi’s submission to the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee in connection with its consideration of JFM’s petition at tomorrow’s meeting (which begins at 10.00 in Holyrood Committee Room 6 -- the relevant agenda item is expected to be reached at around 11.00.]

Since the Justice Committee’s last consideration of PE 1370 on 18 February 2014 and the resultant correspondence between the Justice Committee and Police Scotland, JFM is pleased to inform the Committee that constructive progress is now being made regarding the investigation into all nine allegations of criminality against Crown, police and forensic officials.

Justice for Megrahi (JFM) is grateful to the Justice Committee for its intervention with Police Scotland subsequent to the stalling of the investigation into JFM’s allegations of criminality against aforementioned officials.

On 21 February 2014 JFM received a letter of reassurance from Chief Constable Sir Stephen House that action would be taken to re-establish JFM’s confidence in the investigation. Through his good offices, a meeting between DCC Livingston (responsible for oversight), Detective Superintendent Johnstone (responsible for running the investigation) and representatives of JFM took place at the Police Scotland College, Tulliallan, on 2 April 2014.

Following a full and frank discussion, a major crime investigation team has been set up under Detective Superintendent Johnstone. In addition, the issue of ‘conflict’ between the JFM allegations and the COPFS investigation appears to have been overcome and interviews with JFM representatives speaking to the allegations in question have now taken place and further interviews may result. Clear lines of communication have been established and regular updates are in progress.

While there has been a positive sea-change in the police approach to the criminal allegations, ultimately, the report of their investigation will be handed over to the Crown Office for any action it might deem necessary. Given that institution’s public and highly prejudicial pronouncements, in 2013, before any investigation was even launched (see: Scotsman article of 24 September 2012 -
and Times Scotland Edition article of 21 December 2012 -, JFM continues to have little faith in any decision the Crown Office might make in respect of its allegations.

Currently there are three separate initiatives being pursued in relation to the Lockerbie atrocity. The JFM call for an independent public inquiry (PE 1370), the JFM criminal allegations and the Lockerbie relatives anticipated submission to the SCCRC re a third appeal against Mr al-Megrahi’s conviction. All three pillars are integrally linked, although JFM, while totally supportive, has no direct role in the SCCRC submission.

There is no question that the Justice Committee, in its role as political overseer, has been hugely influential in progressing all three initiatives. For this reason, JFM considers it of major importance that the Justice Committee maintains PE 1370 open on the parliamentary books and continues to maintain a watching brief on behalf of the people of Scotland.

Should a decision to close be taken and it later transpires that criminal wrongdoing was committed during the Lockerbie investigation and Zeist trial, and/or should Mr Megrahi’s conviction be quashed upon appeal, the call for an inquiry would be irresistible. Closing the petition at this stage therefore makes little sense.

It is JFM’s position that the Justice Committee still has a massively important role to play in maintaining political oversight over these ongoing initiatives aimed at casting light on the most appalling atrocity ever committed on Scottish soil in recent history. We believe their continuing involvement is essential if wounds are ever to be healed and faith restored in the Scottish criminal justice system. It is sincerely hoped that the Justice Committee will identify with this view.

Finally, JFM regrets the delayed lodging of this submission but we were only informed of the 3 June consideration of PE 1370 after the deadline had lapsed.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure this will be a very important meeting tomorrow and that all of us will be hoping the Committee will vote to keep the petition open.

    Last time around it appeared a very rabid Margaret Mitchell was determined to bury the petition. We can only hope that, like then, common sense will prevail.

    While it is good that JFM are seeing progress in their dealings with Police Scotland there are other reasons for keeping the petition open. I was concerned at the last JC meeting that some appeared to be saying they would wait for a response from the Police and then decide. There is much more to the petition than issues with Dumfries and Galloway Police. I hope a majority of the JC will see that tomorrow.