Following Magnus Linklater’s most recent Lockerbie article in The Times, James Robertson (in my view Scotland’s most distinguished living novelist, and a Justice for Megrahi stalwart) was moved to pen a letter to the editor. Since The Times has not published the letter, I reproduce it here, with James Robertson’s permission:]
21 October 2015
Magnus Linklater asserts, once again, that those who believe the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing to be unsound are ‘conspiracy theorists’, and that they should ‘accept that the evidence points firmly in the direction of Libya rather than the myriad of misty theories and unsupported allegations on which their case has rested’. It is Mr Linklater who is, once again, profoundly and wilfully mistaken.
He states that last week the Crown Office announced that it had ‘identified two further suspects, and was asking the government in Tripoli to allow it access to them in prison’. This identification appears to have come, not from any ‘long and dogged investigation’ by the Scottish police or Crown Office, but from information contained in the recent American television documentary made by Ken Dornstein, whose brother David was killed at Lockerbie. Mr Dornstein’s motivation in wanting to find out who murdered his brother cannot be questioned, but whether he has uncovered any significant new evidence remains to be seen.
There remain, too, the difficulties of interviewing these men given the current chaotic situation in Libya. The Crown Office has requested the Attorney General of Libya to allow it access to them, but they are held, not by the administration based in Tobruk and recognised by the UK, but by the National Salvation administration based in Tripoli. Those of us who seek justice for Abdelbaset al-Megrahi as well as for the families of the victims of Lockerbie would welcome the case being re-opened in a court of law: the prospects of this happening as a result of these latest developments are remote indeed.
Elsewhere, Mr Dornstein has been quoted as saying of one of the suspects, Mohammed Abouajela Masud, that, ‘figuring out simply that he existed would solve many of the unanswered questions to the bombing because he was attached to Megrahi according to the best information there was, including at the airport in Malta on the day that the bomb was said to have been infiltrated into the baggage system and ultimately on to Flight 103.’ If this is representative of the quality of the ‘new’ evidence, it is deeply disappointing. It simply reinforces an already discredited line of reasoning, albeit one which the court at Camp Zeist accepted,which insists – despite compelling evidence to the contrary – that the bomb began its journey in Malta and not at Heathrow, that the timer used to detonate the bomb was ‘similar in all respects’ to timers in Libyan hands, that there was no dubiety about the identification of Megrahi as purchaser, in a Malta shop, of clothes later retrieved from the bomb suitcase, and so on.
Despite what Mr Linklater avers, the arguments which oppose this version of events have ‘followed the evidence’ and are indeed based on ‘hard facts’. To dismiss the serious concerns about the way in which the case against Megrahi was prosecuted is to accept that the Scottish justice system operated impeccably throughout, and is beyond reproach. The ‘hard facts’ suggest the very opposite.
It is time, Mr Linklater writes, to ‘extinguish the last embers of controversy that have heated the Lockerbie case for so long.’ There is a straightforward way of doing that: allow all the evidence to be heard by an appeal court or by a properly constituted inquiry.