Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A murky web of lies

[Today marks the fifth anniversary of the release from HMP Greenock of Abdelbaset Megrahi.  

On this date three years ago he was still alive, to the annoyance of much of the media. However, The Scottish Sun published a long article by Marcello Mega headlined The dossier of doubt over Lockerbie. The following are excerpts from the article, as reproduced on this blog:]

The Scottish Sun today lifts the lid on a top-secret dossier that accuses Scots cops and prosecutors of suppressing seven key areas of evidence that cast doubt on the Lockerbie bomber's conviction.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission looked into the evidence against Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi - and found a murky web of lies.

The SCCRC's explosive report suspects the Scots authorities are behind a deliberate cover-up over the trial that saw Megrahi jailed for killing 270 people in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over the Dumfriesshire town.

Now on the second anniversary of cancer-stricken Megrahi's controversial release from a Scots jail, we can reveal the commission has grave concerns over the evidence against the 59-year-old following a multi-million-pound, four-year investigation.

In the dossier - seen by The Scottish Sun - Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci, who helped finger Megrahi as the bomber, is described as an "unreliable" witness.

Police are also accused of lying in court while prosecutors - including then Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC - are suspected of suppressing bombshell evidence that would likely have seen Megrahi walk free.

Last night Robert Black QC, retired Professor of Scots Law at Edinburgh University and the architect of the Lockerbie trial, told how he believes Megrahi is innocent.

Mr Black said: "Megrahi is not the Lockerbie bomber and these revelations further underline that.

"I said after reading the daily transcripts of the evidence at the trial and before the judges delivered their verdict that there was no way Megrahi could be convicted on the evidence presented.

"That the judges did convict him on the flimsiest of evidence, which required several leaps of faith on a number of crucial matters that had not been proven by the Crown, remains a matter of profound concern for all of us."

Mr Black said it was now vital that a top-level public inquiry is held to get to the truth.

He said: "We need strong leadership now. We need to admit publicly that we got it wrong, and set about putting right that injustice." (...)

Seven key flaws
Denied fair trial
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission says Megrahi WAS denied a fair trial in their damning report.

They said the Crown suppressed from Megrahi's defence team statements showing how much key witness Tony Gauci changed his mind about crucial details over the years.

Maltese shopkeeper Gauci's evidence fingered Megrahi as the man who bought clothes in his shop on the Mediterranean isle that were linked to the suitcase carrying the bomb that blew up Pan Am flight 103.

The SCCRC report says Gauci was an "unreliable" witness but this was not shown to be the case in court.

They said: "The effect of all of these inconsistencies is powerful. The court was left with a distorted and different impression of the witness. In this way Megrahi was denied a fair trial."

Cop lies
The SCCRC found that police said in evidence they first showed Gauci photos of Megrahi on September 14, 1989 - when he had in fact also been shown them on September 8.

The report said: "This was not disclosed to the defence. There is no statement from Gauci produced, no police witness statements produced."

The SCCRC said if Gauci had been shown Megrahi's pic six days before he picked him out as resembling the buyer at his shop, then that ID was totally undermined.

Diary dispute
In its report, the SCCRC challenges the integrity of evidence given by retired Strathclyde DCI Harry Bell, who had a close bond with Gauci.

The commission found that events recorded in Bell's diaries didn't always match what he said in evidence.

The commission noted that Bell claimed the Megrahi photo shown to Gauci on September 14, 1989, was the first one. This was not true.

It also reveals Bell, DC John Crawford, a retired Lothian and Borders cop, and an FBI agent all made statements claiming that Gauci had talked of a "striking similarity" between Megrahi and the buyer.

But Maltese officers revealed Gauci was unsure, was coached and told to age the photos by ten to 15 years.

The report says: "This is different to DCI Bell's evidence at trial. It also implies the witness is unclear."

Cash for answers
The commission obtained evidence from police memos that Gauci was made aware from his first contact with investigators that his testimony could be worth MILLIONS.

This contradicted evidence given by Scots and US investigators at Megrahi's trial.

One undisclosed memo reveals the FBI discussed with Scots cops an offer of unlimited cash to Gauci - with "$10,000 available immediately".

If a judge was made aware of this in another case, they'd tell a jury to discount the evidence.

Xmas lights lies
In court Gauci was vague about the exact date on which the clothes were bought.

The date was narrowed to either November 23, 1988, when Megrahi was not on Malta, or December 7, 1988, when he was.

Gauci said Christmas lights were NOT on yet in his hometown Sliema when the suspect visited his shop.

Cops said they could not find out when the lights were switched on.

But the SCCRC easily established it was December 6 - a day too early for Megrahi to have been the buyer.

The commission's report says: "It is clear that the police were in no doubt that Gauci was clear in his recollection." It adds "no reasonable court" could have concluded Megrahi bought the clothes from Gauci's shop.

Defence in the dark
It appears efforts were made to cover up key evidence that would have been useful for Megrahi's defence team.

The commission noted that early uncertainty on the part of Gauci was never passed over to the defence, nor was the fact that Scots detectives feared he was trying too hard to please them.

The fact a senior Maltese detective also considered Gauci to be an unreliable witness was never disclosed to lawyers representing Megrahi.

Evidence supressed
The SCCRC claims Colin Boyd QC, who was Lord Advocate at the time of Megrahi's trial and conviction in 2001, suppressed key evidence.

The trial judges maintained Gauci was "entirely reliable" on the list of clothing he claimed the buyer suspect purchased.

Yet a statement he made in 1999, and discovered by the SCCRC, saw him produce "a wholly different list of items and prices". This, along with many other files that could damage the Crown case, was suppressed. The report says Mr Boyd failed in his duty of disclosure to the defence.


  1. What the SCCRC conceded was relatively trivial. The core chapters 7-9 of the Statement of Reasons were predicated on the finding that the SCCRC found "no reason to doubt" page 51 of Dr Hayes notes was indeed created on the 12th May 1989 despite the findings of the Forensic Document Examiner. Photograph 117 demonstrates it was significantly backdated (or the exhibit PT/2 in photograph 117 is a fake.)

    What is extremely puzzling is why Dr Hayes renumbered the original pages 51-55 to 52-56? To insert the "new" page 51?

    The Statement of Reasons demonstrated that the page whose imprint appeared on page 52 was a page missing from Dr Hayes notes, relating to another case dated the 17-?-89 with the month obscured.

    So why not simply substitute the new page 51 for this discarded note without renumbering the pages and drawing attention to page 51?

    While the imprint of the "new" page 51 did not appear on page 52 The SCCRC made much of the fact that the imprint of page 50 (dated 12th May 1989) appeared on page 51. But if 51 was created later and backdated then so must have been page 50.

    Is it possible that page 50 was created back in 1989 for the simple purpose of confusing any subsequent ESDA test? The SCCRC fell for it!

  2. p.s. Didn't Professor Black express his opinion (in a World in Action documentary aired on the eve of the trial) that there was insufficient evidence to convict the defendants even before the trial opened?

    Did the Trial Judges take his opinion into consideration when contradicting it?