Monday, 16 February 2015

Call for Lord Advocate to step back from Lockerbie case

[What follows is excerpted from a report in today’s edition of The Herald:]

The lawyer who was the architect of the Lockerbie trial in a foreign country believes the Lord Advocate must excuse himself from deciding whether to mount criminal proceedings against those who led the investigation.

Professor Robert Black QC, a former law academic at Edinburgh University, said it was particularly important that Scotland's top prosecutor, Frank Mulholland QC, step aside (...)

Three years ago, the Justice for Megrahi group, which believes the Libyan convicted of the Lockerbie bombing was innocent, submitted nine allegations of criminality on the part of police, Crown officials and expert witnesses in the case.

A police report is expected to be submitted to the Crown Office in the summer, and it will then be for the Lord Advocate to decide whether to take further action.

Well-placed sources have indicated that at least some of the allegations appear to stand up to scrutiny, so Mr Mulholland, who as recently as the 26th anniversary of the bombing in December publicly defended the safety of the conviction, would face a difficult decision.

Prof Black said Mr Mulholland must avoid that scenario and step aside before the police report is submitted.

He added: "Given that any charges would be against police officers subject to direction by the Crown Office; forensic scientists instructed and called as witnesses by the Crown Office; and members of the Crown Office's prosecution team at the Lockerbie trial, there is an obvious conflict of interest involved in the current head of the Crown Office being the person to decide whether prosecutions should be commenced." (...)

A police spokesman said: "Police Scotland continue to progress live investigation and as such it would be inappropriate to comment further."

A spokesman for the Crown Office said: "The allegations made by Justice For Megrahi are being considered by Police Scotland in accordance with due process. It would be inappropriate to offer further comment at this stage."

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