[What follows is the text of an item posted last night by John Ashton on his website Megrahi: You are my Jury:]
The SCCRC say they couldn’t get access to Megrahi’s appeal papers – so why didn’t they ask me for them?
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission has today announced that it has rejected the application made by various UK Lockerbie victims’ relatives and members of the Megrahi family for a review of Abdelbaset’s conviction on the grounds that “it is not in the interests of justice”.
The accompanying statement contains the following:
The Commission also had to consider the circumstances surrounding the abandonment of Mr Megrahi’s previous appeal. To enable it to do so it was imperative that the Commission be provided with the defence appeal papers. After a period of 14 months, and despite various requests having been made of the Megrahi family and of the late Mr Megrahi’s previous solicitors, Messrs Taylor and Kelly, these have not been forthcoming…
[Quote by SCCRC Chairman Jean Couper:]
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…
…The Commission has written to the late Mr Megrahi`s solicitors and to his family requesting access to the defence papers in order to allow it to consider the circumstances surrounding the abandonment of Mr Megrahi’s second appeal. No papers were forthcoming despite repeated requests.
Abdelbaset gave me access to all of the defence appeal papers, and I still have them, yet no one from the SCCRC approached me for them. Had they done so, I would have happily handed them over. I also reported on Abdelbaset’s reason for abandoning his appeal in Megrahi: You are my Jury.
The application to the SCCRC stated, in schedule 3, the following:
The circumstances in which Abdelbaset al-Megrahi came to abandon his second appeal are set out in Chapter 14 (pages 346 to 365) and Appendix 4 (pages 420 to 425) of John Ashton’s Megrahi: You are my Jury — The Lockerbie Evidence (Birlinn, Edinburgh, 2012, ISBN-13 978 1 78027 015 9) and (much more briefly) on page 119 of John Ashton’s Scotland’s Shame: Why Lockerbie Still Matters (Birlinn, Edinburgh, 2013, ISBN-13 978 1 78027 167 5) to which the Commission is respectfully referred.
Having been diagnosed as suffering from terminal prostate cancer, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was desperate to achieve his repatriation to Libya so that he could die surrounded by his family. In these circumstances he applied for compassionate release on 24 July 2009. The Libyan Government had already submitted an application for prisoner transfer on 5 May 2009. Abandonment of Megrahi’s appeal was not a requirement for compassionate release, but it was a requirement for prisoner transfer; and the Cabinet Secretary for Justice intimated that, although prisoner transfer had been applied for more than two months before application was made for compassionate release, both applications would be dealt with by him simultaneously (see eg http://lockerbiecase.blogspot.com/2009/07/megrahi-deadline-will-be-missed.html). Accordingly, if both routes to repatriation were to remain open to him, Megrahi had to abandon his appeal.
In a press release issued through his solicitor, Tony Kelly, a short time after his return to Libya, Megrahi stated: “I have returned to Tripoli with my unjust conviction still in place. As a result of the abandonment of my appeal I have been deprived of the opportunity to clear my name through the formal appeal process. I have vowed to continue my attempts to clear my name. I will do everything in my power to persuade the public, and in particular the Scottish public, of my innocence.” (see http://lockerbiecase.blogspot.com/2009/09/press-release-regarding-publication-of.html). Until the end of his life, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi continued to protest his innocence of the crime of which he had been convicted: see eg http://lockerbiecase.blogspot.com/2011/12/these-are-my-last-words-i-am-innocent.html.
In view of this, the SCCRC cannot have been unaware of my involvement in the case, so why did they not contact me?