Friday, 27 March 2015

Lockerbie evidence destroyed, claims Dalyell

[This is the headline over an article published on the website of the Kirkintilloch Herald on this date in 2002. The following are excerpts:]

The government was accused last night of conspiring to destroy critical evidence from the wreckage of the doomed PanAm flight 103 before the Lockerbie trial.

Tam Dalyell, the Labour MP for Linlithgow and Father of the House of Commons, used parliamentary privilege to claim that a decision to subvert vital clues to the identity of the bombers was taken in London.

He said ministers must answer claims that notebooks belonging to police officers who scoured the crash site in Dumfriesshire after the disaster which claimed 270 lives in 1988 had been destroyed.

Mr Dalyell, who has long had an interest in Lockerbie and believes that Abdelbaset Ali Momed al-Megrahi, now serving life for the mass murder, is innocent, told MPs yesterday during an Easter adjournment debate that he feared there had been a cover-up.

His statement was the first time an MP has challenged the government over the handling of Scotland’s biggest ever murder investigation and trial. (...)

The MP said: "This Easter, an innocent man, innocent of the monstrous crime he was found guilty of committing, languishes in Barlinnie prison in Glasgow.

"His name is Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. Before parliament rises, the House ought to get an undertaking that the British Government, yes the British Government, and not a highly controversial devolved Crown Office in Edinburgh, will address certain questions."

He said that not one of the 129 members of the Scottish parliament had been prepared to take a "sustained, in-depth view" of the Lockerbie case.

Mr Dalyell went on: "Our country’s relations with the Arab world have not been devolved to a Scottish parliament." Mr Dalyell said a former police constable, Mary Boylan, had been asked to give a statement to the procurator fiscal regarding her activities at Lockerbie.

As the request had come almost 11 years after the event, the retired WPC phoned Livingston Police Station to ask for her notebook only to be told it had gone missing.

"Who gave the instruction for the destruction of the notebooks? After all, this was the biggest murder trial unresolved in Scottish legal history.

"The answer to this question is more likely to be found not in Edinburgh but in London," said Mr Dalyell. (...)

Megrahi, a Libyan, lost his appeal against conviction for the bombing of flight 103 and is serving a life sentence in Barlinnie jail.

Speaking after making his comments in the Commons, Mr Dalyell said: "What I am asking the government to comment on is the suggestion that something highly irregular has taken place, apparently with consent.

"I find it absolutely incredible that for reasons of routine or storage space that the notebooks belonging to police officers investigating the biggest murder case in Scottish history should be destroyed. I think it is extraordinary."

Mr Dalyell insisted his remarks were not an attack on the competency of MSPs and suggested the real sources of any alleged conspiracy to cover up the perpetrators of the bombing were in London and the United States.

"This is a serious request and I expect answers," he added.

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