[What follows is a précis of the fourth meeting held between the Justice for Megrahi Police Scotland Liaison Group and officers of Police Scotland at Tulliallan on 24th November 2014. Reports on the earlier meetings can be found here and here and here.]
Justice for Megrahi (JfM): Iain McKie; James Robertson.
Police Scotland: Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone; Detective Superintendent Stuart Johnstone; Detective Chief Inspector Scott Cunningham.
Apologies: Len Murray.
This is the fourth meeting held to facilitate liaison between Police Scotland and JfM in respect of the ongoing investigation by Police Scotland into JfM’s complaint of 9 criminal allegations made in September 2012.
DCC Livingstone introduced the meeting and welcomed those present whilst acknowledging the apology sent by Len Murray due to illness.
He referred to the previous meeting held on 29th September 2014; despite neither himself nor James Robertson being present, he acknowledged this still provided opportunity for meaningful dialogue and discussion on the progress of the enquiry and that much of the discussion at the last meeting focused on what is essentially the conclusion, meantime, of enquiries into Allegation 8.
It was agreed by both parties that the précis of the last meeting was accurate for submission to the Justice Committee and DCC Livingstone confirmed he would update the JC convener’s clerk. The confidential meeting record was also discussed to be agreed.
DCC Livingstone confirmed that a meeting with the appointed independent QC had been arranged for early December 2014 to discuss the draft report in relation to Allegation 8.
D Supt Johnstone referred to the close relationship between Police Scotland and JfM; this allowed for open and frank discussion which had been, and would continue to be recorded in an agreed confidential record of meetings, with also a subsequent agreed précis for public release. JfM were in full agreement with this and emphasised the importance of keeping certain discussions confidential.
DCC Livingstone reiterated that consideration was ongoing in terms of the necessity and proportionality of interviewing witnesses, and that the matter of interviewing witnesses would be considered by the investigating officers and actioned if deemed necessary. JfM, acknowledging this, however stated they expected in principle that witnesses would require to be interviewed at some stage.
DCC Livingstone added that as these were unique circumstances the appointment of an independent QC provided the police investigation with an appropriate level of scrutiny prior to reporting the findings to Crown Office, which was clearly not the normal procedure. It was again emphasised that this was a key relationship and preparatory work was underway prior to the next formal meeting with the QC.
JfM highlighted their desire to discuss the findings of the police investigation at the conclusion and acknowledged although they may not be in full agreement or entirely satisfied with the findings, they appreciated a thorough investigation was ongoing.
D Supt Johnstone confirmed that the analytical research had been opened out and wider reaching including analysis of publications by Morag Kerr, John Ashton along with the JfM allegations. A document listing 64 assertions had been compiled which was particularly complex and included key areas of forensics, 3 airports security and movement of baggage. This was identified as the largest body of work due to the sheer volume of information and documentation.
D Supt Johnstone highlighted that there was a good relationship with the SCCRC who are assisting the police investigation with providing relevant documentation and information, where necessary.
Police Scotland also confirmed that to date, there has been no dialogue with Crown Office in relation to the police investigation into the 9 allegations made by JfM.
JfM emphasised that it was critical that the present level of trust was maintained with Police Scotland and that this should not be jeopardised by either party.
Although not directly linked to their criminal allegations JfM raised concerns about a perceived lack of follow up treatment by the authorities for police officers and others who had been traumatised as a result of their Lockerbie related duties. It appeared as if a number had suffered from post traumatic stress and other psychological and emotional reactions and these effects had not been effectively monitored and treated by the various responsible authorities. They felt that these issues were worthy of recognition and comment. DCC Livingstone acknowledged this concern and outlined how Police Scotland were alert to such issues and had built in welfare procedures to identify, diagnose and care for those officers who suffered such reactions.
The JfM representatives asked Police Scotland to confirm in respect of their enquiries into the ‘timer’ fragment found at Lockerbie, whose provenance had subsequently been challenged by JfM in their allegations, that should these challenges be upheld, would further enquiry then be made into the evidence of the witnesses who allegedly found the fragment and who had subsequently handled and analysed it.
DCC Livingstone explained that while he would not go into detail about any aspect of their investigation, no legitimate lines of enquiry arising from their investigations would be excluded.
D Supt Johnstone confirmed that a specific timeline was being compiled in relation to ‘evidence’ related to the “bomb” used in the atrocity.
The matter of forensic issues and experts was raised by JfM. D Supt Johnstone explained there were several areas which would require independent forensic experts.
In terms of the projection of the police investigation, D Supt Johnstone indicated this would progress well into 2015. Additional expert support was being provided by the National Crime Agency emphasising the degree of specialist support to the police investigation.
JFM representatives stated they were satisfied with the updates and with the process whereby a confidential record of discussions is maintained and circulated to both parties, and an agreed précis released to the public. It was agreed to hold the next meeting around February 2015.
Both parties agreed that the positive relationship and mutual trust which had been built was apparent and that the discussions continued to be open, frank and extremely beneficial.