[The following are excerpts from a long article by retired ambassador Sir Brian Barder that was published on his website on this date in 2010:]
Several well informed people believe there are skeletons in this cupboard which powerful people in the UK and the US want to keep securely and permanently locked away right where they are. For example, an impressive body of respectable opinion, by no means all professional conspiracy theorists, is not convinced that al-Megrahi was properly convicted. It’s impossible to know whether this doubt was a factor in Kenny MacAskill’s mind when he made his decision: fortunately for him, there were ample other grounds for compassionate release. It does look however as if some of those concerned were anxious that al-Megrahi’s appeal should not be heard, either because it would risk bringing Scottish justice into disrepute by discrediting the original trial as unfair and defective, or for more sinister reasons. Or were the likely consequences of al-Megrahi’s appeal possibly succeeding simply too awful to contemplate — for example, the reactions to be expected in the US, and the appalling questions then to be answered: if the two Libyan suspects didn’t do it, who did? And what compensation would be due to al-Megrahi or, if he had died in the meantime, his family?
So why did al-Megrahi agree to abandon his appeal before it could be heard? Was it because he feared that he would not live long enough to see it determined, or because abandoning the appeal was a condition, implied or explicit, of his release on compassionate grounds? Perhaps someone should put this question to al-Megrahi while he is still alive.
A recent article in the Independent newspaper alleged that the Libyan government had paid the doctors whose prognosis that al-Megrahi would die within three months had provided the justification for his release on compassionate grounds:
There are several facts that batter these claims with question marks. The most obvious is that, 11 months later, Megrahi isn’t dead. It’s the most amazing medical recovery since Lazarus. Or is it? It turns out the doctors who declared him sick were paid for by the Libyan government, and one of them says he was put under pressure by Libya to offer the most pessimistic estimate of life expectancy. Susan Cohen, whose only daughter died in Lockerbie, asks: “Why didn’t the Scottish Government pay for the doctors?” [Johann Hari, The Independent, 23 July 2010]
But as a crisp comment on this canard pointed out, —
This is utterly untrue. The medical report was by Scottish doctors, NHS cancer experts. The ones paid for by Libya were not part of the evidence used by the Justice Secretary. Fact checking mate, you call yourself a journalist?
Indeed, the main medical advice on which MacAskill relied was provided by the Director of Health and Care of the Scottish Prison Service, Dr Andrew Fraser, who has been described by MacAskill as a doctor of “unimpeachable integrity”. Yet the slanderous claim that the prognosis had been provided by doctors paid by the Libyan government spreads like toadstools all over the blogosphere and into the MSM. Moreover, it has repeatedly been made clear that the three-month prognosis was accompanied by a warning that he might die earlier, or he might live longer: no forecast in such circumstances could be certain. And who knows whether al-Megrahi would still be alive if he had been left in his Scottish prison cell to die, in a foreign country miles from his family? As to the repugnance commonly expressed at the ‘hero’s welcome’ he received on his arrival back in Libya, it needs to be pointed out that he was being welcomed back as a victim of a monstrous injustice, the Libyans believing almost to a man and woman that he had been wrongly convicted; this was the opposite of a welcome accorded to a mass murderer and terrorist.
I’m generally suspicious of conspiracy theories but in this case I seem to smell a number of rats — not least because of the decision of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) in June 2007 after lengthy study of the case to refer it to the High Court for a second appeal against conviction. There were also a number of reports by Hans Köchler, who had been an international observer of the original trial, appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and who described the decisions of the trial and appeal courts as a “spectacular miscarriage of justice”. Some of the relatives of the victims, who have naturally followed all the proceedings closely, are doubtful whether al-Megrahi was properly convicted. There is a strong suspicion that Iran may have been involved, including a specific Iranian said to have been in the pay of the CIA (I am not of course suggesting that the CIA could have been involved in planning or carrying out the bombing). Al-Megrahi’s fellow-Libyan co-defendant was unanimously acquitted by the judges. There’s a good deal of doubt about (...) the principal prosecution witness, on whose testimony al-Megrahi’s conviction effectively stands or falls, and about his alleged identification of al-Megrahi at the trial, which was both shaky and possibly compromised. Even the vehemence of American protests at al-Megrahi’s release tends to arouse suspicion: what beans did they fear he might spill once out of prison? Why all the effort to prevent the second appeal from coming to court? And so on. It really does look as if someone, somewhere, has been and still is hiding something.