From this blog on 21 April 2015:
“At this morning’s meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee it was decided (1) to keep open Justice for Megrahi’s petition (PE1370) calling for an independent inquiry into the conviction of Abdelbaset Megrahi; and (2) to write to the Lord Advocate enquiring how the Crown Office proposes to deal with the forthcoming Police Scotland report on JFM’s allegations of criminal misconduct on the part of police officers, prosecutors and Crown forensic scientists in the Lockerbie investigation, prosecution and trial. This arises out of the suggestion made on this blog that a special prosecutor or independent counsel might be required, in the light of the Lord Advocate’s publicly expressed views about the merits of JFM’s allegations and the character of JFM members.”
From this blog on 26 April 2015 (from The Sunday Times):
“Scotland’s lord advocate has signalled for the first time that he will play no role in prosecutions linked to the Lockerbie bombing if a fresh police investigation unearths evidence of criminality by Crown Office staff.
“Allegations being examined by Police Scotland include claims that some Crown Office staff concealed or tampered with evidence to ensure Libya took the blame for the 1988 atrocity.
“Last week, members of the Scottish parliament’s justice committee declared support for the appointment of an independent prosecutor to ensure public confidence in further investigations and agreed to seek assurances from the lord advocate that he would play no part in fresh prosecutions. Concerns were also raised that Frank Mulholland, the lord advocate, cannot be objective and impartial because he has expressed confidence in the guilt of Abdelbaset Ali al- Megrahi, who was convicted of the bombing, and the integrity of the case against him.
“‘Frankly, some of the lord advocate’s comments during hearings on the petition were not helpful,’ said Christine Grahame, the committee’s convener. ‘That may in some ways colour one’s feeling of being content that there is — I hesitate to say — an independence of spirit.’
“John Finnie, an independent MSP, added: ‘When the police come to submit their report, they are, as things stand, submitting it to someone who has already prejudged the situation with intemperate remarks.’ Finnie said it would be ‘interesting to hear the lord advocate’s views’ on the merits of an independent prosecutor.
“On Friday, the Crown Office said moves had already been made internally to appoint an independent prosecutor. ‘The lord advocate already anticipated this as an issue some time ago and decided it would be improper for him to personally deal with the matter. Arrangements have already been put in place for an independent crown counsel, who has not been involved in the Lockerbie case, to deal with this matter if and when the need arises.’”
The Lord Advocate’s official reply to the convener of the Justice Committee is a letter dated 8 May 2015, twelve days after the report in The Sunday Times. This now appears on the Justice Committee’s website. Its only substantive paragraph reads as follows:
“I had anticipated this as a potential issue some time ago given my involvement in the investigation and the nature of the allegations which have been made. Arrangements were therefore put in place for an independent Crown Counsel who has not been involved in the Lockerbie case to deal with this matter if and when the need arises.”
The comment that I made at the end of the blogpost of 26 April continues to apply.