[What follows is the text of an item originally posted on this blog on this date in 2009:]
Lockerbie doubters branded ‘Holocaust deniers’
[This is the headline over a report in today's Scottish edition of The Sunday Times. It reads as follows:]
A representative of families of American victims of the Lockerbie disaster has likened those questioning the guilt of the convicted Libyan bomber to “Holocaust deniers”.
Frank Duggan, an official spokesman for Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, described those who believe Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi is innocent as a “shameless band of conspiracy mavens”.
Those criticised include Christine Grahame, the nationalist MSP, her researcher Mark Hirst, Robert Black, the Edinburgh-based legal expert who helped broker Megrahi’s trial in the Netherlands and Gareth Peirce, the London-based human rights lawyer.
In an email sent to Richard Marquise, a former FBI official who headed the investigation, Duggan said Grahame, Hirst, Black and Peirce were “no worse than Holocaust deniers who will not accept the facts before their faces”.
Grahame, who believes that Iran, not Libya, was behind the 1988 bombing, which claimed 270 lives, said Duggan’s comments were ludicrous. “My father and the fathers and grandfathers of many of the other people who are seeking the truth about who attacked Pan Am 103 were fighting the perpetrators of the Holocaust for three years before the US saw fit to get involved,” she said.
Hirst accused Duggan of a “highly personal” smear campaign against those who doubted the safety of Megrahi’s conviction.
The row reflects anger among the families of the American victims at the decision by Kenny MacAskill, the justice minister, to free Megrahi on compassionate grounds. Megrahi, who has terminal prostate cancer, has outlived his three-month prognosis. Last week, MacAskill defended his decision to a Holyrood inquiry into the handling of Megrahi’s release, insisting that the medical advice was “quite clear”.
US intelligence files published last week claim Megrahi was involved in buying and developing chemical weapons for Libya.
Black declined to comment and Peirce was unavailable for comment.
[I declined to comment since I was unwilling to descend into the gutter with Mr Duggan.
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission which, on six grounds, found that Mr Megrahi's conviction may have amounted to a miscarriage of justice, no better than Holocaust deniers, forsooth!
According to The Chambers Dictionary "maven" or "mavin" is US slang, from Yiddish, for pundit or expert.
The full e-mail exchange between Mr Duggan, Richard Marquise and Mr Hirst can be read here.