Saturday, 28 March 2015

New hearing in Lockerbie appeal bid

[This is the headline over a report by the Press Association news agency, as published on the Fife Today website, on yesterday’s High Court hearing in the SCCRC’s petition in the Megrahi case. The following are excerpts:] 

A hearing will take place at a later date to decide whether relatives of Lockerbie bombing victims could pursue an appeal on behalf of the only man convicted of the atrocity.

A group of British relatives maintain they have a "legitimate interest" in trying to get the case of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi back before a court for a full appeal.

They believe the Libyan, who died protesting his innocence in his home country in 2012, was the victim of a miscarriage of justice and say his conviction should be overturned.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), which is once again looking at Megrahi's conviction, has asked the High Court for guidance on whether members of the victims' families can take forward such an appeal on the convicted man's behalf.

A brief procedural hearing took place before judge Lady Dorrian at the Appeal Court in Edinburgh today to examine the SCCRC's petition.

The judge ordered a further hearing to take place, on a date yet to be fixed, for all the issues surrounding the commission's request to be aired.

The one-day hearing is expected to take place later this year. (...)

Since June last year, the SCCRC has been considering a fresh, joint application from members of Megrahi's family and the Justice for Megrahi campaign group, which includes relatives of British victims of the bombing, to review the conviction.

It is believed to be an unprecedented move - the first time in UK legal history that relatives of murdered victims have united with the relatives of a convicted deceased in such a way.

But the SCCRC previously said that despite repeated requests, members of Megrahi's family have failed to provide appropriate evidence supporting their involvement in the application and it concluded that the application was being actively supported only by the members of the victims' families.

Previous court decisions have meant that only the executor of a dead person's estate or their next of kin could proceed with such a posthumous application. [RB: Previous decisions have confirmed that close relatives of the deceased convict have a legitimate interest. The decisions do not stipulate that only such persons have a legitimate interest.]

The SCCRC, therefore, wants to determine if a member of the victims' families - such as Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the bombing - might be classed as a ''person with a legitimate interest to pursue an appeal'' in the event that it decides to refer the case back to the High Court for a third appeal.

After hearing brief submissions on the way forward today, Lady Dorrian ruled: "I shall continue this for a hearing on all issues, including any preliminary matters, to a date hereafter to be fixed."

Dr Swire and Aamer Anwar, solicitor for the Megrahi family and relatives of the deceased victims, were among those at court.

In paperwork lodged with the court, they are calling for the SCCRC's petition for guidance to be dismissed, claiming it is "incompetent" in law.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Anwar said: "Relatives of the Lockerbie victims instructing my firm maintain that they have a legitimate interest in pursuing an appeal and they will continue to seek the truth.

"But as proceedings are live, it would be inappropriate to comment further."

[The BBC News website’s report on the proceedings, which is clearly based on the Press Association’s, can be read here.]


  1. Is a new round of self-protective nonsense coming up?

    I recall that in the McKie case the fingerprints was sent to numerous independent experts, 100% of them returning the conclusion that the prints didn't match.

    Sort of convincing, eh? Can we say that this made it a bit harder for the nonsense to continue? If instead the Scottish police itself instead should have decided how the Scottish police should review the earlier reports by the Scottish police...

    Are there not a handful independent legal sources who would be willing to state their opinion on the Megrahi case, guilty or not, based on the available evidence?

    1. I would very much like an independent technical expert to review my analysis of the position of the bomb suitcase.

      The analysis I did is to some extent within the bounds of my area of expertise. As a veterinary pathologist I have to look at the physical aftermath of some catastrophic event or process, and figure out what happened to get things in that condition. I also have to review and sometimes criticise the work of others in that area, sometimes working from photographs.

      The difference here is of course that I deal with bodies, not suitcases. Nevertheless, it turns out that suitcases are much easier to interpret. They're relatively rigid and non-deformable, in contrast to the squishiness and marked deformability of flesh and viscera. They don't decompose - photographs taken weeks or months after the event still show the condition of the things after the explosion, and the items themselves are presumably still in store to be re-examined if necessary. And they photograph much better. It's often difficult to make out what's been going on in post mortem photographs, and the photographer's own biases can have an effect. In contrast the photos of the suitcases are pretty easy to make out.

      But having said that, I'm a vet, not an explosives expert. And I'm one person.

      It's well over a year since I published my analysis of the suitcases, demonstrating why I'm 100% convinced that the bomb was in the case on the bottom of the stack, the one Bedford saw at quarter to five in the interline shed. It's actually two years since I sent the analysis to Police Scotland. Not one single person has come forward with an alternative explanation for the findings. Patrick Shearer wriggled and obfuscated, defauting to the Zeist idea that the blue Tourister had been on the bottom, but without making any attempt to explain why he believed that or why he disagreed with me.

      More recently, I pointed out to his successors that if they could disprove my contention about the position of the bomb suitcase, or even show that it wasn't a certain conclusion, three of JFM's "allegations of criminality" would simply go away. They declined to attempt that route. If I were them, I would be asking an independent expert to confirm or deny my analysis, but I have no information as to whether they have done that.

      I think it's crucial. Admissibility may be problematic, as Professor Black pointed out on an earlier thread, but as far as the search for actual truth is concerned, what could be more central than the route of introduction of the bomb suitcase? If the bomb really was in the case Bedford saw, then the Zeist findings were entirely misconceived. Indeed, the entire investigation was misconceived from January 1989.

      It could be so easily resolved. Find one or two independent experts and ask them to give their opinions about whether I'm right or not. Why is nobody apparently keen to do this?

    2. I really should apologise. I must sound like a stuck record on this. But I think it's so important - arguably the most important point there is as regards the basic objective of demonstrating that what happened was not what the investigators thought had happened.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. > I really should apologise.
      No, you should rather apologize for even getting that idea.

      Arguments that have been buried should stay in their grave.

      But valid unanswered arguments must actively be kept alive. They don't do it themselves (which easily can be forgotten).
      It is not you who are not willing to go into a dialogue and get the matter debated and resolved. For obvious reasons.

      Until matters move anywhere what is needed is to keep putting these matters in the nose of those who hope things will go away by itself.

      So do keep playing that tune, and usually it is 'variations over a theme' anyway.

  2. I congratulate JfM and relatives of victims and Megrahi to have gotten this far.
    In so many ways it is all fantastic news!