[What follows is a précis of the third meeting held between the Justice for Megrahi Police Scotland Liaison Group and officers of Police Scotland at Tulliallan on 29th September 2014. It has only just been finally agreed between the participants. Reports on the earlier meetings can be found here and here. A further meeting between the two organisations took place on Monday of this week, 24 November 2014, and a précis of this most recent meeting will be forthcoming as soon as it is available.]
Justice for Megrahi (JfM): Iain McKie; Len Murray.
Police Scotland: Detective Superintendent Stuart Johnstone; Detective Chief Inspector Scott Cunningham.
Apologies: Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone; James Robertson.
This is the third meeting held to facilitate liaison between Police Scotland and JfM in respect of the ongoing investigation by Police Scotland into JfM’s 9 criminal allegations made in September 2012.
D Supt Johnstone introduced the meeting and welcomed those present. He reiterated this forum was appropriate and necessary for Police Scotland and JfM to have full and frank discussion on related matters and also provide an update in relation to the 9 criminal allegations. Today’s discussions would predominantly be on allegation 8. [RB: This allegation relates to the processes and procedures whereby Abdelbaset Megrahi was “identified” as the purchaser from Mary’s House in Malta of items that accompanied the bomb in the Samsonite suitcase.]
It was agreed from the outset that the content of the meeting would be recorded and that a (i) confidential record and subsequent (ii) disclosable record would be agreed by both Police Scotland and JfM prior to release into the public domain.
D Supt Johnstone confirmed that in response to the call for “a full forensic examination” in relation to allegation 8, this phase of the investigation was nearing completion and a “draft” report was being compiled which would be submitted to DCC Livingstone prior to being presented to the appointed Independent QC.
It was confirmed that this ‘draft’ report in relation to allegation 8 would be retained and added to the composite report when the police enquiries into all 9 allegations were complete and prior to its submission to the Crown Office.
JfM acknowledged this and highlighted that the content of their complaint in relation to allegation 8 had purposely been a “silent challenge” and kept narrow in anticipation that the police would identify and unravel other key areas worthy of investigation. That they had was encouraging to the JfM representatives.
JfM asked if timelines had been created. D Supt Johnstone confirmed that timelines had been produced for several themes.
A section was being included covering police procedures, policies and practices along with further information and reference to the Lord Advocate’s guidelines and rules of disclosure, then and now.
JfM questioned if identification procedures were now different and whether best practice was “not” displayed. D Supt Johnstone explained that the procedures had not changed much in this regard and the findings would be provided at the conclusion of the investigation.
JfM reiterated that they continued to have trust in Police Scotland and were totally satisfied with the level of commitment apparent in their investigations.
They continued however to have no faith in the Crown Office to make an objective assessment of the Police Report.
The matter of interviewing witnesses, some of whom would be potentially hostile, was raised again by JfM. Police Scotland explained as in any enquiry the question of what witnesses to interview would be a consideration for the investigating officers.
The police representatives then outlined issues related to other allegations and the enquiry they were undertaking.
JfM enquired regarding the anticipated timescale of the investigation. D Supt Johnstone explained that it was very likely to continue well into 2015 and ultimately acknowledged that there remained several months of work ahead. The decision of the SCCRC in relation to the latest appeal may have an impact and add to the significance and length of this inquiry.
JfM raised ongoing concerns regarding outside influence in terms of any external political pressure from the Crown Office, independent QC and SCCRC. D Supt Johnstone reaffirmed that there had been no political interference, no contact with the Crown, the independent QC would be consulted in the coming days and there had been no direct contact at this time from the SCCRC.
The involvement of the Justice Committee (JC) was discussed. Committee members were provided with a précis of the last meeting by JfM. D Supt Johnstone confirmed a covering letter from DCC Livingstone would be submitted following today’s meeting confirming there was ongoing positive liaison between both parties. Generally both parties were content with the involvement of the JC and JfM saw the political oversight of the committee as important given the seriousness of the matters under investigation.
JFM representatives stated they were totally satisfied with the updates and had trust in Police Scotland to fully investigate their complaints.
Both parties agreed that the discussions had been open, frank and extremely useful, and gave a commitment to maintain this positive relationship.