Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Statement by Aamer Anwar on MacAskill revelations

[What follows is the text of a statement issued today by Aamer Anwar:]

Statement issued by Aamer Anwar - lawyer instructed on behalf of the family of the late Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi and Dr Jim Swire and other British relatives.

In 2014 I submitted an application with the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) seeking to overturn the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi for murder. That application was submitted on behalf of Dr Jim Swire, Rev’d John F Mosey and 22 other British relatives of passengers who died on board Pan Am Flight 103 and also the six immediate family members of the late Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.
The Commission determined on the 28th June 2007 that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi may have suffered a miscarriage of justice in relation to his conviction and identified six grounds for referring the case to the High Court. We asked the Commission to reconfirm these six grounds and address the issue of whether it was in the interests of justice to refer the case to the High Court for a further appeal. Sadly last November the SCCRC refused the application for referral.
Today family members of the victims were angered and shocked by Kenny MacKaskill’s claims that Mr al-Megrahi’s release was part of a larger scheme to secure £13billion oil deals and £350 million worth of defence contracts for British firms. If true that is a shocking abuse of our justice system.
An Appeal was commenced but following the diagnosis of terminal cancer it was suddenly abandoned in 2009. At the time the British Government and Scottish Government denied they played any role in pressurising Mr al-Megrahi into dropping his appeal as a condition of his immediate release but also denied that squalid deals for oil or weapons were behind his release.
Of course a prisoner transfer was never open if the appeal was ongoing, but it was claimed that al-Megrahi had no way of knowing that Kenny MacAskill would ultimately opt for compassionate release rather than prisoner transfer, but it is also alleged that al-Megrahi was led to believe that he would not be released unless he dropped his appeal.
Mr Megrahi was convicted on the word of a Maltese shop owner Gauci who claimed to have sold him the clothes, then gave a false description of him in multiple statements.

Yet it is now accepted by the ex-Justice Secretary, that Megrahi might not have bought those clothes found in the wreckage of the Pan Am aircraft.

Yet Gauci was central to al-Megrahi’s conviction because the clothes recovered from the suitcase that carried the bomb onto Pan Am 103 were traced back to his shop.

The case of al-Megrahi has been described as the worst miscarriage of justice in British legal history. A reversal of the verdict would have meant that the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom stood exposed as having lived a monumental lie for 25 years and having imprisoned a man they knew to be innocent for ten years.

Sadly once again the reputation of the Scottish criminal justice system has been damaged both at home and internationally. The truth will only ever be exposed by allowing the Appeal Court to consider a fresh appeal challenging the original verdict.
Background Notes  


  1. I listened to two men on tonight's news, Mr Salmond and Mr MacAskill. I once respected them both but in recent days I've actually wondered if they really understood the positions they held when in government. Those positions had many responsibilities but nowhere among those was the authority to declare a person innocent or guilty yet both seem to believe they have the right to do that when it comes to Abdel Baset Al Megrahi. How odd that they don't realise their view on that matter is about as relevant as my own.

    Mr Salmond, since Mr Megrahi was coerced by Mr MacAskill's office into dropping his second appeal under threat of not getting home if he did not do so, has previously responded to calls for a full Inquiry into this case by saying the Megrahi case could only be looked at again in a court of law. So why did he allow Megrahi to be coerced into dropping his appeal in the first place, especially when, under compassionate release, the appeal could have continued? Why was the appeal not allowed to be heard? Why did MacAskill, in his own arrogance, wait until he'd successfully got rid of the appeal and then declare that day in August 2009 that the original conviction was sound, that Megrahi was guilty, when he knew no such thing for certain, when he had sidelined the SCCRC's own six grounds to believe a miscarriage of justice may have occurred? Why did he deny those six grounds had ever existed? Were these the actions of a competent, responsible Justice Minister? I think not.

    And now, now we have MacAskill's grossly offensive revelations revealed in a book he will make money out of which tell us that all the time this was going on the Scottish Government was playing deals over this man, this almost certainly innocent man. That they were actively obstructing the course of justice along with our Judicial establishment in Scotland in order to deny this man his right to have his appeal heard and to play at deals. The truth behind Lockerbie didn't matter to them. The dead didn't matter to them either or their relatives. Indeed, the atrocity itself seems to have been wiped from their memory banks. It doesn't matter.

    And we're also hearing sob stories about being afraid of upsetting the US and of upsetting Libya and all the rest of it from those who were responsible for making so many Scots believe that we were not too wee, too stupid or too feart to stand up to anyone! Yet, when it came down to it, they were willing to allow Scots Law and the Scottish Justice System to be manipulated, corrupted and exposed globally as a sham and a by-word for everything except justice.

    Mr MacAskill, in that cringe-worthy speech he made on the day Mr Megrahi was released spoke of the latter facing "a higher power" one day. Well, I have news for Mr MacAskill. If there is such a higher power then I believe Mr MacAskill will face it too. For anyone who takes on the post of a Justice Minister and then behaves in a corrupt manner and prevents justice from being delivered is in for a bit of a roasting.

    Professor Hans Kochler once said that in the case of Megrahi the conduct of the Scottish Judiciary was "tantamount to the obstruction of justice". What is also now clear is that the conduct of the Scottish Government can be described in precisely the same terms.

  2. I could wish that was more coherent, but good on Aamer.