Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Fear that findings of a Police Scotland probe into Lockerbie atrocity will be 'buried'

[What follows is the text of a report published in today’s edition of The National:]

Findings of a major Police Scotland investigation into allegations surrounding the Lockerbie disaster may never see the light of day, according to a group set up to clear the only man ever convicted of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103

A week before the 27th anniversary of the bombing, in which 270 people died, Justice for Megrahi (JfM) said the Crown Office and Lord Advocate had “already come to a view” on the group's allegations doubting Abdelbaset al Megrahi’s conviction

The Libyan died in May 2012, after the Scottish Government had released him from a life sentence on compassionate grounds.

JfM said in a statement: “The families and friends of those who perished and the people of Scotland are faced with the very real possibility that the findings of a new major Police Scotland investigation into criminal allegations related to the disaster will remain buried in the dark recesses of the Crown Office, will never see the light of day and that the Scottish Government will do nothing to prevent this happening.”

One member of the group, Professor Bob Black, emeritus professor of law at Edinburgh University, said: “The position of the Lord Advocate and Crown Office is clearly untenable and it is against the public interest that the full truth about one of the world’s worst terrorist outrages should be hidden under a cloak of secrecy.”

He told The National of his frustration that an application to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) by Dr Jim Swire – whose daughter died in the disaster – was thrown out on the basis that victims' relatives had no legitimate interest to challenge the conviction.

He said: “That would’ve been an opportunity for the courts really to look again at the Lockerbie evidence, which they never got a chance to do because Megrahi developed terminal cancer and was sent back home, so the appeal was abandoned.

“The SCCRC’s six grounds for holding that his conviction might have amounted to a miscarriage of justice have never been tested in court – and that’s a great shame.”

Black said JfM had made nine criminal allegations in connection with the Lockerbie investigation and trial which, had they been supported, would throw serious doubt on Megrahi’s conviction and “point to possible malpractice by Crown Office personnel, police and other prosecution witnesses”.

Black said a rule of legal practice was that a lawyer must never become involved in a situation where the interests of two clients conflict, or where his own personal interest conflicts with those of one of his clients.

He added: “Before the nine allegations of criminal misconduct were ever investigated, the Lord Advocate said there was nothing in them and that JfM were conspiracy theorists, and that what they had said was defamatory.

“This is the man whose office ultimately has to assess the [police] report, which has taken three years. Now that is a clear conflict of interest. He’s already made his mind up.”

The police investigation codenamed Operation Sandwood, is expected to report early next year.

Black said the Scottish [Parliament] was treating the Lockerbie case as “open” because of an earlier petition calling for an independent inquiry, and that JfM would want to see it raised again at Holyrood.

However, a Crown Office spokesperson said: “The Lord Advocate can confirm that he has had no involvement in the appointment of counsel undertaking this work other than to identify their criteria of independence and no previous involvement with the Lockerbie investigation. The counsel undertaking this work is not under the direction of the Lord Advocate.

“The Lord Advocate considers it important that any criminal allegations against persons who were representing the Crown are dealt with independently of the Crown. As indicated above, steps have been taken to ensure this is the case.” 

[RB: The reasons why the selection by the Lord Advocate of a Crown Office prosecutor with no previous involvement in the Lockerbie case does not adequately address Justice for Megrahi’s grave concerns are set out here and here.]

1 comment:

    The forthcoming police Operation Sandwood report into Justice For Megrahi’s (JfM’s) nine (9) criminal allegations is due to be submitted to the Crown Office early in 2016...

    Mebo hopes that the Scottish police carefully investigated all the allegations. We are especially looking forward to read in the report about the results
    of a new forensic examination, of the MST-13 fragments, carried out by neutral forensic experts.
    It would be a tremendous scandal if the Sandwood report does not contain new forensic findings and new forensic photos of the fragments.

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd Telecommunication Switzerland. Webpage: www.lockerbie.ch