Sunday, 13 July 2014

It is vital that the truth is exposed

What follows is the text of an item headed Justice, compassion, integrity that appeared on this blog on this date five years ago.

[What follows is the text of an article by Christine Grahame MSP in the Scottish edition of yesterday's Sunday Express. As far as I can discover, the article does not appear on the newspaper's website.]

He is the face of an atrocity which remains the worst act of terrorism ever perpetrated on UK soil, but soon, within a few months, the man convicted of the Lockerbie Pan Am 103 bombing will be dead. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi has advanced stage terminal prostate cancer. On the two occasions when I visited him at Greenock Prison his constant discomfort was clearly evident. For almost 10 years since his conviction he has fought relentlessly to clear his name, but his degenerative terminal illness has changed his focus. Now he is a man desperate to see his family before he dies.

When the UK Government learned of Megrahi’s imminent second appeal following a lengthy four year investigation by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission which concluded there may have been a miscarriage of justice, Tony Blair hastily put in place a Prisoner Transfer Agreement with the Libyan Government. It was two years before that appeal began.

Many in the UK Government and elsewhere who do not want this second appeal by Mr Megrahi to go ahead. Why?

The reputation of the Scottish legal system would be on the line if Mr Megrahi were successful, yet with every week that goes by another significant piece of new evidence undermines the Crown’s case. There are professional reputations in the Scottish legal establishment and in the US that are being challenged here.

Robert Black, the highly respected Professor Emeritus of Scots Law at the University of Edinburgh who knows this case inside out has concluded: “I am satisfied that not only was there a wrongful conviction, but the victim of it was an innocent man. Lawyers, and I hope others, will appreciate this distinction.” That in itself is a serious indictment of the Scottish legal system.

Megrahi’s appeal has been plagued by delay and takes no account whatsoever of his terminal condition. Last Tuesday the Court of Appeal announced a further delay due to the ill health of one of the Appeal Judges, Lord Wheatley. This additional delay puts the process back a further four months at least. “Justice delayed is justice denied,” Megrahi’s defence lawyer said when the Court announcement was made. The latest hold-up ensures, beyond reasonable doubt that Megrahi will not live to see the end of the appeal process, regardless of what legal choices he makes in the next few weeks.

He has a very stark decision to make either continue with the appeal and at the point of his death a family member can take it forward to its conclusion on his behalf. This option means Megrahi will die in prison in an environment that senior prison officials have already told me are not suitable for a terminally ill man. Or alternatively he can abandon his appeal and hope that he is granted a Prisoner Transfer back to Libya, but this is by no means guaranteed.

There is however a third way; compassionate release to Libya which would allow him to die near to his close knit family, including his elderly parents and allow the appeal to proceed to a determination.

This can be granted unilaterally by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and would reflect the principles of Scots law based on justice and compassion. This option is supported by legal experts and relatives of victims such as the redoubtable Dr Jim Swire who has campaigned tirelessly to expose the truth behind the bombing which claimed the life of his daughter Flora. Many are opposed to such a compromise of course, including a significant number, but not all, of the US relatives of Pan Am 103 as are senior officials in the Scottish Justice Department, some of whom built their careers on the Lockerbie case.

A Prisoner Transfer may be seen as conveniently ending the matter. That would be naïve. Such is the weight of fresh evidence indicating Megrahi’s innocence combined with significant doubt over the original material used to convict in the first place, that calls for a public inquiry are likely to increase and denying one, indefensible. It is vital that the truth is exposed, for all involved, and most particularly victims families. Compassionate release offers the only compromise which would exhaust due legal process, demonstrate compassion and prove the integrity of the Scottish judicial system. Justice, compassion, integrity, three words engraved on the Scottish Parliament’s Mace. Let’s hope and trust this nation lives up to them.

[As we now know, the compassionate release of Abdelbaset Megrahi did not allow his appeal to continue and due process to be observed. Why not?  Because the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, wholly gratuitously and unnecessarily, insisted on dealing with Megrahi’s compassionate release application along with the Libyan Government’s earlier prisoner transfer application and the latter required abandonment of the ongoing appeal. Cunning, eh?]


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  2. I find it quite astonishing that of their own volition Professor Black, Dr Swire and their associates have given the authorities the perfect excuse to procrastinate for another 5-10. Hasn't the opportunity to make proper submissions i.e.not "Operation Bird") been lost? Did Megrahi's lawyers even bother to raise the matter of the Heathrow origin or did they (or their researcher) plug yet again the risible claim the primary suitcase was introduced at Frankfurt in addition to a suitcase of drugs?

    Is the SCCRC a fair and objective tribunal? They stated explicitly they would not accept evidence of criminal wrongdoing based on perceived anomalies in dates ect.

    However my article "Hear No Evil,See No Evil, Speak No Evil" provided irrefutable evidence key evidence had been fabricated (based on an obviopus anomaly in the dates of two key exhibits) which Megrahi's defence team never noticed in 15 years. Had this been raised at Camp Zeist, the case would have collapsed even with a rigged tribunal and the defendants having had their right to a jury given away in favour of a judicial experiment.

    If the evidence of the MST-13 timer and the Bombeat manual was fabricated then what else was? The Malta clothing?

    If the SCCRC do not acknowledge the collapse of the evidential house of cards featured in chapter 8 & 9 of the Statement of Reasons what in God's name is the point of dumping a further three volumes of submissions? A job creation scheme for charlatans and fabricators?

  3. Does the absence of a credible claim of responsibility mean the criminal investigation was based on the findings of the FAI?

    But if their findings of an IED was based on the fragment and clothing evidence and this evidence is fake, does this make the FAI conclusion ‘fake’ too?

  4. The findings of the FAI in one respect - that of the route taken by the IED - was based on the beliefs of those in charge of the criminal investigation, not the other way round, and had absolutely nothing to do with the absence or otherwise of any claim of responsibility.

    The conclusion that Pan Am 103 was brought down by an IED was based on physical evidence which could not have been faked and which, in the view of all save a few frootloops, was correctly interpreted in that respect.

    As for the BTF, it did not feature in the FAI as its supposed significance had not been discovered. We know now that it wasn't, as was claimed, part of one of the timers supplied to Libya. We don't know how or why or when it came to be in the chain of evidence, but it is irrelevant to the question of whether or not an IED caused the destruction of the aircraft.

  5. An IED is not necessarily a bomb planted to explode.

    An IED could be a coincidental mix of everyday items that become explosive in particular circumstances e.g. explosive decompression.

    It is the timer fragment evidence that turns an IED into a bomb which is why it was needed to convict Megrahi and without it you have evidence of an explosion only.

  6. This is arrant nonsense, Dave. There is loads of evidence of an explosion apart from the dodgy fragment. And no-one, but no-one, has ever described explosive decompression following the failure of a cargo door, or any other structural failure, as an IED.

    If you wish to continue posting comments on this blog, you must stop making things up.

  7. It's quite inventive, though. It's not the same as John Barry Smith's explanation for the explosion (which is quite batty and so far as I know has never been repeated by anyone else).

    Thinking about it though, it's no less batty, and also entirely fails to address the evidence that the centre of the break-up of the plane was right over that corner of AVE4041 and nothing to do with the cargo door which was recovered without any significant damage as regards explaining the disaster.