Thursday, 16 July 2015

The Gauci "identifications"

[What follows is the text of a report published on the BBC News website on this date in 2008:]

The man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing has called in an American psychologist to help clear his name.

Abdelbasset al Megrahi, 56, claims an identity parade line-up was unfair and has challenged the way photos were shown to potential witnesses.

Prof Steve Clark, of the University of California, is said to be an expert on identification procedures.

At Edinburgh's Court of Criminal Appeal, Megrahi's defence team sought the right to show photos to Prof Clark.

Margaret Scott QC said it was "unprecedented" that she should have to ask judges to order the handover of the original photos.

Appeal judges are expected to hear further legal argument on the question next month.

Megrahi is currently serving life in jail for the 1988 atrocity, in which 270 people died.

He lost one appeal against conviction but the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates possible miscarriages of justice, told the courts to look at the case again.

Megrahi's second attempt to overturn his conviction has led to a number of legal wrangles - including a long-running row about whether defence lawyers should be allowed access to secret documents.

[RB: The report that Professor Clark produced can be read here. A similar report by Professor Tim Valentine can be read here. The views on the case of the doyenne of the psychologists of eyewitness memory, Professor Elizabeth Loftus, can be read here. Their unanimous conclusion is that the “identification” of Megrahi by Tony Gauci is valueless.]


  1. "Their unanimous conclusion is that the “identification” of Megrahi by Tony Gauci is valueless."

    Great that reputed experts state their findings, and behind all of them there is clearly a serious piece of research.

    It is also nice when such experts reach the same conclusion as I think most people would have if they did not in advance were hellbent on finding guilt:
    Giving initial information that conflicts with the finding wanted in the end, changing your statements along the way, making wrong pics (as is pointed out: in the presence of people who know the 'right' answer and even receiving suggestions from them) and ending up with something like 'resemble' or 'little bit exactly like', no, that does not somehow translate into usable identification evidence.

  2. There is also a third expert report prepared by Professor David Canter and others, of the University of Huddersfield, which is worthy of mention. The conclusions are the same.