Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Private Eye on the SCCRC’s Lockerbie decision

[What follows is the text of an article in the current issue of Private Eye, as reproduced today on John Ashton’s Megrahi: You are my Jury website:]

The recent decision of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) by the Scottish body that it would not be reviewing the case of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, has been met with dismay and incredulity by those who want to get to the truth behind the Lockerbie bombing.

The SCCRC said its decision that it a further investigation was “not in the interests of justice” was made with “some regret”. It blamed an inability to gain access to defence appeal papers and other materials – which has outraged those who say they could have been supplied.

Eye readers will remember that back in 2007, the SCCRC identified no less than six grounds for a possible miscarriage of justice, paving the way for Megrahi’s appeal in 2009. After endless delay by the Crown, the appeal was abandoned when the ailing Libyan returned to his country to die with his family. Since then other material has come to light, including new scientific evidence which shows – contrary to assertions made at Megahi’s trial – that a bomb timer fragment found at the crash site was no match for those known to have been supplied to Libya.

It was this evidence which raised more serious questions not only about Megrahi’s guilt but also over any part played by Libya, which last year prompted a number of the relatives of the 270 who perished in the 1988 blast – supported by members of Megrahi’s family – to launch a new SCCRC application. It was, they claimed, the “worst miscarriage of justice in British legal history”.

But this month commissioners said “a great deal of public money and time” was expended on its original review of Megrahi’s case only for the apeal to be abandoned and it was not convinced of the family’s willingness to co-operate with the new review or take the matter to appeal.

John Ashton, Megrahi’s biographer, who worked with the defence team, accused the commission of incompetence: “If it had really wanted access to the appeal papers, it only needed to ask. Mr Megrahi had allowed me to keep a set of papers, which I was happy to share with the commission.”

Tony Kelly, Megrahi’s former solicitor, had also made it clear he was anxious to assist, and had requested the SCCRC set out the legal basis for the request, so he could meet his duties of confidentiality to a former client. That was not forthcoming.

The SCCRC decision was the second blow to the victims’ relatives. In summer the appeal court ruled that they did not have a “legitimate interest” in pursuing an appeal on Megrahi’s behalf.

Nevertheless Jim Swire, father of Flora who died in the terrorist atrocity, told the Eye they were still hopeful the demands for documentation would be met. They are also awaiting the findings of a police investigation into nine allegations of criminal conduct against the Scottish Crown Office and named individuals over the conduct of the Lockerbie investigation and the 2001 trial. Now aged 79, he remains as determined as ever expose the cover-ups and deceit (Eyes passim ad nauseam) which have denied everyone justice.


  1. Well, I can't complain that Private Eye isn't aware of the evidence that the bomb started at Heathrow, because it most certainly is. I wonder why that didn't rate a mention?

    1. I sympathise entirely with your position Rolfe. It is clear that everyone who has read 'Adequately Explained by Stupidity?' is utterly convinced by the analysis. It is quite stunning that facing such a comprehensive demolition job on the forensics etc contained in the book, and the fact that the judges had stated concern over the Crown's case for the Malta ingestion, which, of course, comprehensively destroys the Frankfurt transfer assumption if proved to be the nonsense that it is, that folk are simply not getting it. After all, it is spelt out in clear enough terms, all one need do is take a glance at the damage to the adjacent suitcases and the whole thing falls into place.

    2. In addition to the adove reply, given the arguments as laid out in 'Adequately Explained.......', the acceptance of them serves to emphasise the serious question marks over the PCB shard.

    3. Of course, the Eye published a glowing review of the book, written by Heather Mills, who even phoned me to check some facts. Judging by the text of the review, she completely understood the arguments and the implications.

      I appreciate the fascination with the timer fragment. It is fascinating. But it's also highly inconclusive. Nobody knows what it is, or who made it, or whether or not it fell out of the sky. It has certainly not been proved to be a plant (though it may well be). It undermines the case, but in the most technical of ways.

      In contrast, the Heathrow evidence destroys the case at its very foundations. Never mind what sort of detonator was used (though we can all figure out what sort was probably used and it wasn't an MST-13), never mind any of the rest of the tortuous machinations that surround this affair, THE BOMB WASN'T ANYWHERE NEAR MALTA.

      The Crown got the wrong modus operandi. They were looking for the bombers in a place where the bombing didn't happen. Once you know where the bombing did happen, you can immediately see that Megrahi has an unbreakable alibi. He wasn't there. He was somewhere else.

      This is simple to explain, and the implications are clear for anyone to follow. But nobody is highlighting this point. It's as if the media have become so saturated with coverage of the timer fragment that that's all anyone can think about when the subject of Lockerbie comes up.

      I don't have the ear of the media. I can't highlight it to them. Nobody else is doing it. If I read one more article sending everyone cross-eyed with detail about the timer fragment and barely mentioning Heathrow, I'll probably scream.

      You'd think the media would be anxious for a new angle after all these years. Well, here's a new angle. It has now been proved that the investigation was off the rails within the first month, and when the evidence is properly analysed it proves Megrahi couldn't possibly have done it. He has an alibi. I thought maybe the Eye had "got" it, after that book review, but apparently not.

      It seems that being right and having a dynamite new revelation isn't enough. Only those and such as those will be listened to. Ken Dornstein gets three hours of prime-time high production values documentary to air his delusional theories. This leads to a slew of articles and commentaries publicising his point of view, even if some of them are a bit sceptical. But if you're not a "name", nobody wants to know.

  2. One point which is not raised here, and the Eye may be forgiven since they were perhaps unaware of it, is the following:

    The SCCRC states: ‘The Commission is unable to consider the relevant matters properly and now has little confidence in the willingness of the Megrahi family to cooperate with the current review or to take forward any subsequent appeal.’ This claim that the al-Megrahi family has been and will continue to be unwilling to cooperate is a comprehensive corruption of the facts. The truth of the matter is that, in complete contrast to the al-Megrahi family’s lack of cooperation, the SCCRC has consistently obstructed progress in dealings with the family due to the SSCRC’s unwillingness to recognise Sharia Law. The SCCRC demands that the executor of Mr Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s will lodge the application for appeal with the SCCRC. Mr Khaled al-Megrahi is the nearest equivalent to an executor that Libya's Sharia law of succession recognises. But there is no official appointment as such, as there is in Scotland, it is simply a role that the eldest son of the deceased fulfils under Shariah law. So a document like a Scottish confirmation or an English grant of probate couldn't be supplied to the SCCRC. Affidavits attesting to the position under Libyan law were supplied. But the Commission was reluctant to accept them and kept on asking for a document appointing Khaled as executor. Such a document simply couldn't be supplied because no such thing exists under the Libyan law of succession. So when the Commission refers to the family not being cooperative they are blaming them for not producing a document that doesn't exist under Libyan law.

    1. And why are they being so obstructive, I ask. This bears all the hallmarks of a group of people who have been "got at".

    2. As Rolfe says, it looks very much as if the SCCRC have indeed been “got at”. The near-simultaneous appearance of the Dornstein documentary, the recent arrests over the murder of police officer Yvonne Fletcher and this latest shoddy behaviour from the SCCRC point to co-ordination and choreographing. This looks like a concerted push to destroy the mounting credibility of those who believe in Megrahi's innocence.
      It has been proved that the bomb bag was launched from Heathrow, and Megrahi should be exonerated on this fact alone. But this would still allow the Crown and other investigators to claim that they made an honest mistake, whereas the fake timer fragment shows malice, aforethought and a deliberate attempt to frame someone. It also begs the question what other “evidence” was faked. The stench of investigators' criminality is pretty eye-watering: the timer fragment, the mysteriously appearing labels on some of the Malta clothing, the implausible size of the shirt pocket, the colour of the shirt and the fact that Gauci was adamant that he didn't sell the mystery buyer any shirts “for sure” - until he was “got at” as well.
      The Heathrow origin proves Megrahi's innocence; the timer fragment proves investiogators' guilt and that the Lockerbie miscarriage of justice can't be adequately explained by stupidity.

    3. That's a very interesting perspective.

      Personally, now I know that the bomb originated from Heathrow, my own inclination is to hammer that point. It's solid, it's incontrovertible, and it utterly destroys the Crown scenario. I would hope that once that has penetrated the consciousness of the police and officialdom of 2016, some honest investigation of the rest of the debacle might be forthcoming, Including PT/35b. But that might be too optimistic.

      I think it's pushing it to claim that the investigators made an honest mistake in ignoring the Heathrow evidence. It's too blatant for that to be credible. Three different opportunities to spot it, all lost. Nobody followed up the evidence at Heathrow to figure out what Bedford saw, if it wasn't the bomb. RARDE and the AAIB went bald-headed after the notion that there had been another suitcase under the bomb suitcase, when there wasn't. The single-minded conviction on this erroneous notion, on the most flimsy (indeed imaginary) "evidence", is astonishing. And finally, Hayes didn't figure out the suitcase jigsaw, when he had every opportunity to do it and knew he should be doing it.

      Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.

      I can't prove the timer fragment was a fake introduced by the authorities. I may suspect it, but conclusive proof is elusive. I know there's a question mark over the label on the Yorkie trousers, but I don't have the full details of that aspect. If indeed fabricated evidence was introduced into the investigation, this is a whole order of magnitude different from merely misinterpreting genuine evidence and turning a blind eye to the bleedin' obvious when you don't like where it's pointing.

      I wonder if we'll ever know?

    4. Insofar as I am aware, it is not a corruption to pay for evidence. However, and I recommence, it is so under Scots Law if the court is not advised as such, as occured at Zeist. I bow to the administrator on this issue.

    5. Correct. I set out the legal position here:

    6. That seems to be something of a non-sequitur, though.

    7. The near-simultaneous appearance of the Dornstein documentary, the recent arrests over the murder of police officer Yvonne Fletcher and this latest shoddy behaviour from the SCCRC point to co-ordination and choreographing. This looks like a concerted push to destroy the mounting credibility of those who believe in Megrahi's innocence.

      Oh yes. That was all choreographed. The realisation that the SCCRC is prepared to play political games to the point of timing its announcement to follow on from the Dornstein documentary is something that has shocked me deeply.

  3. Do we actually know in detail about what happened between Tony Kelly and SCCRC?
    It is easy to convince ourselves that SCCRC is the bad guy - but we can't say that we have evidence.

    SCCRC: "It is extremely frustrating that the relevant papers, which the Commission believes are currently with the late Mr Megrahi’s solicitors, Messrs Taylor and Kelly, and with the Megrahi family, have not been forthcoming despite repeated requests from the Commission. Therefore, and with some regret, we have decided to end the current review."

    TK: "As solicitors we cannot deliver up papers in our possession simply upon request, even to a body such as the Commission."
    "The Commission have very wide powers indeed. They could have made application to the Court for access to materials. In any such application, they would clearly have been required to state the basis of the request, and the basis for any court to order us as solicitors to have to part with confidential papers. We prefaced that in communications with them and asked them to provide authority for any application."
    "As solicitors we are bound by professional obligations which are the subject of regulation by the Law Society of Scotland."

    Does not to me sound like TK was falling over their legs to keep matters running real smooth amd fast with SCCRC.

    I had written a letter to Megrahi's family, saying

    "The whole world will agree that this decision is yours.
    SCCRC has helped us before, and it is a fair chance.
    Do you authorize me to give SCCRC everything they ask for?
    If you all sign under where it says 'Yes' I will go ahead".

    But I suppose that would have been unprofessional.

    1. I don't honestly know. On one hand we have Tony Kelly saying the SCCRC have to go through due process before he can supply these documents. On the other hand we have John Ashton saying, the documents were given to me and I'm not bound by Law Society rules and I'd have handed them over on a request from the SCCRC. But the SCCRC didn't ask him. Perhaps they didn't know he had the material?

      Worse tham that is the persistent refusal to proceed without being given an original copy of a document that doesn't actually exist. Apparently the SCCRC have decided that only the executor of a deceased convict's estate may apply for a posthumous appeal. So much for all the stories that the next-of-kin was entitled to apply as of right. Sharia law doesn't have a concept of an executor, it's merely something the eldest son is automatically expected to do. So there is no document appointing Khaled (or anyone else) as Megrahi's executor. And they are refusing to proceed without such a document, while bad-mouthing Khaled and the rest of the family for not supplying it.

    2. Ask yourself this. Would the SCCRC have treated a member of the Communist Party of China in the way that the al-Megrahi family were by them given that the PRC is now one of the biggest share holders in UK PLC? Kelly is a lawyer, end of. According to him the SCCRC did not apply to his firm via the accepted legal channels. In other words, the totality of the SCCRC's press release is falacious. They seek to blame everyone else in every paragraph for their own failings. So, the High Court kicks the third appeal into the long grass as it does not serve the interests of justice. The SCCRC drops the petition for a third appeal on entirely inaccurate and deeply flawed grounds. Precisely who actually does serve the interests of justice in Scotland these days?

    3. It should be remembered, of course, that with the statement "not in the interest of justice", SCCRC must accept that normal people may see them as having a corrupted set of mind. That, though, is still insufficient for deciding whether their accusations against T&K have merit.

  4. Dear Robert F.,
    thank you!

    T&K is being accused of not cooperating willingly.
    This accusation is of course as easy to make as their answer is.

    Should someone state that I had sabotaged a job I was responsible for carrying out, my public reply would be "Due your public accusations I see the need to publish relevant parts of our correspondence, in any detail that may be necessary. Would you have a problem with that?"

    I would not expect any other reply from me to move anyone's opinion away from what they would have already.

    SCCRCs refusal is a monumental setback for JfM.

    T&K seems to have the faith from insightful people like yourself that they are entirely not to blame in this matter. That carries great weight, of course.

    But had it been me in T&K shoes, and I did have nothing better to say than what they have published I would expect my client to call me in for a very serious talk, with my acts and position being questioned, and whether I was the right association to take care of his interests.

  5. Dear SM,

    Thank you. It should be emphasised that JFM was not an appellant in the third appeal petition, the appellants were, of course, some twenty odd members of UK Families Flight 103 and the al-Megrahi family itself. This did not stop the SCCRC wrongly stating in the first paragraph of the press release that JFM was a petitioner. However, you are certainly right insofar as the overall campaign goes though, the stance adopted by the SCCRC is not encouraging. Although they do say that they are open to a further application, this is couched in terms of their belief that the al-Megrahi family will be as uncooperative as they, again wrongly, claim Khaled and his solicitor were during the initial stages of the third appeal petition. The whole thing is a mire. So, no change there then, but we're used to that.