[What follows is a response from Dr Jim Swire to Magnus Linklater’s articles Lockerbie conviction is upheld by review and Lockerbie review kills conspiracy theories in The Times on 20 December. Dr Swire intended to post the response on the relevant thread on this blog but I thought it should appear as a separate item:]
There were three particular aspects of comments attributed to the Crown Office and thus to Lord Advocate Mulholland, by Mr Linklater in The Times of 20 December 2014 which were intensely irritating to some Lockerbie relatives.
The first was that the Lord Advocate should be involved in such comments at all on that particular date knowing full well that many relatives here, such as myself, can no longer believe the Megrahi verdict to be justified and that therefore the precious memories to be renewed on the following day would be disturbed by his clear attempt to pander to US relatives, most of whom have not yet realised the extraordinary twisting of justice which seems to have occurred at Zeist, through not having reviewed the proceedings and subsequent fallout for themselves.
I am not aware that it is part of the remit of the Crown Office to suckle the American public, rather than objectively to examine evidence in criminal cases on behalf of the people of Scotland.
Those who do care about the human tragedy of this case should remember that the exhibition of such hubris in defence of the indefensible will, when the truth does eventually emerge, only add to the misery of those relatives who never detected the deception for themselves.
The second was the claim that the facts had been re-examined and that there was not a shred of doubt about the integrity of the verdict. In the face of the previous findings by the SCCRC after three years hard work, the Crown Office appears to have insulted their work as well as astonishing many Scots. Perhaps Lord Advocate Mulholland should hang the famous comments of the late Mandy Rice-Davies at the foot of his bed.
The third was the claim by the Lord Advocate that “our focus remains on the evidence, and not on speculation and supposition.” This is supported according to Mr Linklater by the police who are quoted as saying that the evidence (the forensic item PT35b etc) would have to have been planted within 23 days. Linklater writes:
‘Police are adamant, however, that the fragment was under supervision. They point out that the evidence would have to have been planted within 23 days, requiring knowledge of all the evidence to come — including Megrahi, whose existence was then unknown.’
Perhaps Lord Advocate Mulholland and those representing the police have forgotten the details of the provenance of these items.
They were presented to the court as having been recovered by prosecution forensic scientists from the only police evidence bag found to have had its official label illegally interfered with. The alteration to the label was both criminal and significant. The wording had been changed from the ‘charred cloth’ of the original label to read ‘charred debris’ The other debris of course included PT35b, the mysterious board fragment, mimicking boards belonging to the Libyans, but having a fundamentally different mode of finish simply not available to the firm which had made the Libyan boards prior to December 1988. It could not therefore have been derived from the remains of a Libyan bomb timer allegedly found in the innocent fields round Lockerbie.
An explanation from the Crown Office as to what they have done to discover who altered that police label and whether or not that crime was accompanied by any additions to the bag's contents, might, if conducted intensively by a party free of any hubristic attachment to the marvels of Lord Advocate Mulholland's office do more to advance the truth in this dire case than does the police assumption that any interference 'must' have occurred 'within 23 days'. Again the late Mandy applies.
Has the Crown Office had the sanctity of the ‘supervision’ which the police claim protected their evidence bags objectively investigated?
If so, what was found?
If not, why not?
[Other responses to the articles in The Times can be found here.]