[Justice for Megrahi’s petition (PE1370) calling for an independent inquiry into the Lockerbie investigation, prosecution and trial features on the agenda of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee for its meeting on Tuesday, 21 April 2015 at 10am in Holyrood Committee Room 2. The papers for the meeting can be read here. The committee clerk’s note on this agenda item reads as follows:]
6. At its meeting on 3 February, the Committee received the record of the most recent meeting between Justice for Megrahi (JFM) and Police Scotland. JFM provided a further update on 14 April which highlighted recent comments made by the Lord Advocate on the Megrahi investigation. JFM invites the Committee to consider the principle of appointing an ‘independent prosecutor’ to consider the forthcoming Police Scotland report. This latest update is reproduced in full Annexe B.
7. Separately, the SCCRC has asked for a High Court ruling on the legal status of the victims’ relatives to enable it to decide whether they can pursue an appeal on Megrahi’s behalf. A procedural hearing was held before Lady Dorrian on 27 March. A date for a full hearing will be fixed in due course. Further information on the application is available on the SCCRC website*.
*SCCRC news release on the application, 22 December 2014. Available at: http://www.sccrc.org.uk/ViewFile.aspx?id=632.
The SCCRC’s petition, dated 3 February 2015, is available at: http://www.sccrc.org.uk/ViewFile.aspx?id=636.]
[Justice for Megrahi’s submission to the Justice Committee (Annexe B) reads as follows:]
Justice for Megrahi (JFM) is most appreciative and grateful that the Justice Committee (JC ) has continued to maintain PE1370 on the books having identified that there are highly significant and influential factors which have a direct bearing on our call for an inquiry into the Lockerbie/Zeist affair. Namely, the referral to the SCCRC and the High Court for a third appeal supported by members of the UK bereaved and the al-Megrahi family itself, and, the lodging of serious allegations of criminality with Police Scotland against Crown, police and forensic officials by JFM.
Regarding the referral. Following an initial procedural hearing on 23rd January this year on a petition by the SCCRC for advice on whether victims' relatives have a legitimate interest to pursue such an appeal, the High Court fixed a further procedural hearing for 27th March. At this hearing it was decided to hold a further hearing, before three senior judges, to consider the substantive issues raised in the petition, and the legal competence of the petition itself . A date is still to be fixed.
JFM observes that, in part, this issue is complicated by the conflict of interest raised by The Criminal Procedure (Legal Assistance, Detention and Appeals) (Scotland) Act 2010, section 7 - Appeals.
‘In determining whether or not it is in the interests of justice that any appeal arising from the reference should proceed, the High Court must have regard to the need for finality and certainty in the determination of criminal proceedings.’
With respect to the JFM allegations levelled against Crown, police and forensic officials for their conduct, the major Police Scotland investigation, ‘Operation Sandwood’, remains ongoing. We maintain full confidence in the diligence and professionality of the investigators and are being provided with regular briefings on the general progress of the investigation.
While JFM is not aware of when the police report will be completed, that report will be handed over to the Crown Office for an assessment of whether any action should follow.
In this regard we must once again highlight our very serious concerns at the il-lconsidered and irresponsible remarks made by the current Lord Advocate in the media regarding JFM and its allegations on several occasions since the accusations were made. (see: http://lockerbiecase.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/deliberately-false-andmisleading.html;
http:// lockerbiecase.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/pro-megrahibackers-flayed-by-new-lord.html; http:// www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-30560364 and http://news.stv.tv/west-central/304342-lord-advo- cate-mulholland-meets-fbidirector-to-discuss-lockerbie-probe/)
In these remarks the Lord Advocate, and COPFS as a whole, are quite obviously and unconscionably overstepping the mark and destroying any pretence that they will be able to assess the police report in an unbiased and objective manner. By their unprecedented and unconstitutional public interventions these authorities have effectively ruled themselves out as arbiters of the police report.
In light of the above, Professor Robert Black QC has proposed that the responsibility for assessing the police report should be handed over to an ‘independent prosecutor’. (See: http://lockerbiecase.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/conflict-of-interest-return-tocharge.html and http://lockerbiecase.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/call-for-lord-advocate-tostep-back.html)
JFM would value the Justice Committee’s thoughts on these matters and ask members to consider the principle of appointing an ‘independent prosecutor’.
Again, JFM would like to reiterate its sincere gratitude to the JC for its indulgence in this matter.