Sunday, 11 October 2015

Struggle for Lockerbie justice continues

[This is the headline over a letter from Dr Jim Swire published in today’s edition of the Sunday Herald. It reads as follows:]

It was of course a bitter blow when the High Court in the form of Lord Carloway and two other judges refused 24 UK Lockerbie relatives' application to the SCCRC to investigate the need for a further appeal against the Megrahi verdict ('Linking Megrahi to a new Lockerbie bombing suspect won't work ... he was innocent and his conviction is a stain on Scottish justice', News comment, October 4).
We have been advised that Scotland offers no process for appeal against Lord Carloway's decision.
We have hitherto avoided any public reaction to that decision primarily because it is of paramount importance not to impinge on the need of Police Scotland's ongoing investigation, Operation Sandwood, for freedom from improper external pressures. Sandwood is investigating allegations of criminality lodged by the group Justice For Megrahi in connection with the preparations for, the conduct of, and the sequels to, the Zeist trial.
In addition we are grateful that the Justice Committee of the Holyrood Parliament has retained a petition on its books (petition PE1370), to which many of us relatives signed up. It seems that any action which the Justice Committee may decide upon now over PE1370 must also logically await the findings of operation Sandwood.
John Ashton's article appears very well informed and is known to be heavily reliant on material prepared for use in the defence of Megrahi in Scottish courts. It also relies upon much material that was excluded, for whatever reasons, from use within the Zeist court, or which has emerged since Zeist, but which would certainly have been of critical importance to the SCCRC had the latter been enabled to pursue the request of the UK relatives for a further appeal.


  1. "Sandwood is investigating allegations of criminality lodged by the group Justice For Megrahi in connection with the preparations for, the conduct of, and the sequels to, the Zeist trial."
    If JfM says so how could I doubt it?

    1. The JfM Committee members (Iain McKie, Len Murray and James Robertson) who are liaising with the Sandwood investigation team are in no doubt that the investigation is a serious, rigorous and honest one and will follow the evidence wherever it leads. The police report is expected around the end of the year. As matters stand, the Lord Advocate says it will be considered by Crown Counsel specially appointed for the task, who has had no previous involvement with the case. JfM are continuing to press for an American-style "special prosecutor" entirely independent of the Crown Office.

    2. I have also met with some of the Sandwood detectives on a number of occasions. I am fully convinced they are doing a professional and impartial investigation. The interesting part comes when and if they submit a report that doesn't suit the Crown Office agenda.

      One aspect particularly intrigues me. What if they conclude that the basic premises of the allegations are correct (that is, the bomb was introduced at Heathrow, PT/35b wasn't part of one of the timers supplied to Libya and Megrahi wasn't the man who bought those clothes), but nevertheless the whole thing was simply a ghastly muddle of incompetence and no criminal offences were committed.

      How do events unfold in that case? I suppose we wait and see.

    3. Thank you for the replies, unusually encouraging.

    4. The Sandwood guys are well-trained, competent, intelligent 21st century police officers. They can follow the evidence as well as any of us if not better, once set on the path. Obviously the Crown Office can't instruct them what to conclude, as any leak of such an instruction would be dynamite.

      Having said that, before Operation Sandwood got going, there was an earlier investigation of our allegations which was not so impartial, shall we say. My impression is that the Crown Office thought we were a bunch of kooks who could be swiftly disposed of by someone who knew what the desired conclusion was. Except, that proved impossible.

      There was a hiatus thereafter, then Sandwood emerged. Chalk and cheese, light to the darkness. While I still don't trust the Crown Office as far as I could throw the entirety of Chambers Street (museums and all), this might shape up to be quite interesting.