[What follows is excerpted from a report published in today’s edition of the Sunday Mail:]
A bid to clear the name of the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing will be launched this week by his family.
Relatives of Abdelbaset al Megrahi will hand a dossier to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.
They hope it will result in an appeal against Megrahi’s conviction. The details were finalised in talks with lawyer Aamer Anwar in Zurich.
Details of a planned appeal brought by Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s widow and son, who want former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill to be quizzed in court over his release, are revealed by the Sunday Mail for the first time today. (...)
The grounds for a new appeal will formally be handed to Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission by the Megrahi family’s lawyer Aamer Anwar this week.
As justice secretary at the time, MacAskill took full responsibility for the decision to release the Libyan.
It’s understood Megrahi’s relatives want to question him on the circumstances surrounding the decision to release him and MacAskill said he would co-operate if called to give evidence.
Megrahi’s widow Aisha and son Ali Abdelbaset al-Megrahi agreed the terms of the appeal at a meeting in Zurich last November. (...)
Dr Swire and another relative, Rev John Mosey, are among 25 UK-based relatives of victims who are supporting the Megrahis’ appeal.
A source said: “There are too many unanswered questions and the best place for the truth to come out is in a courtroom.
“One of the main questions is why did Kenny MacAskill feel he had to meet Mr Megrahi in person on his own in prison?
“It is an extraordinary step for a justice secretary to meet a prisoner particularly if he is just about to release him on compassionate grounds.
“We need to know if he was ever given the impression overtly or implied that dropping his appeal would increase his chances of compassionate release.”
The new grounds for appeal include questions over the integrity of evidence produced by the Crown at the original trial, including circuit board fragments and clothes.
They also claim that crucial testimony given by Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci was false and should have been ruled inadmissible.
The SCCRC have already ruled that Megrahi’s conviction was potentially a miscarriage of justice.
Victims’ relatives, led by Dr Swire, tried to have the conviction overturned posthumously but the SCCRC ruled they could only re-examine if asked by the family. That barrier has been overcome following the summit in Zurich.
Aisha al-Megrahi said: “I wish to pursue this appeal in my husband’s name to have his conviction overturned, to clear his name and to clear the name of my family. The world will say sorry to my husband and my family one day. That’s all I wish to say.”
Ali, 22, added: “I still feel bad that my father was innocent and locked up in prison for so many years.
“I lost my father and although nobody can bring him back, I still want justice for him. I’m sure that, with the new appeal, my father’s name will be cleared from all allegations.
“The Lockerbie affair hit my family very, very hard and we’re looking forward to the day that Scottish justice prevails and that we can live in peace again.
“We hope the authorities of Scotland will make it possible to correct the controversial verdict and give all the families who lost loved ones, including ours, real justice.”
Also in attendance in Zurich was Edwin Bollier, a Swiss businessman who was a witness at the original trial at Camp Zeist in Holland.
He is a former director of Swiss firm Mebo, who prosecutors claimed made the Lockerbie bomb’s timer. He believes Megrahi’s conviction wrongly implicated him in the atrocity.
The SCCRC have the power to refer the case to the Court of Appeal if they believe there are enough grounds. The process is likely to take months.
Anwar has received thousands of pages of documents from the original trial which had been held by Megrahi’s previous legal team Taylor & Kelly.
Megrahi’s Scottish lawyer while alive was Tony Kelly, a partner in that firm.
Anwar, installed last week as rector of Glasgow University, said: “The Lockerbie case has often been described as the worst miscarriage of justice in British legal history.
“A reversal of the verdict would mean that the governments of the United States and the UK would be accused of having lived a monumental lie for over a quarter of a century and having imprisoned a man they knew to be innocent for the worst mass murder on British soil.
“The reputation of our criminal justice system has suffered at home and internationally because of the widespread doubts over the conviction of al-Megrahi.
“The only place those doubts can truly be addressed are in the Court of Appeal and nowhere else.”
MacAskill, who served as the SNP government’s justice secretary between 2007 and 2014 under Alex Salmond, promised to come forward if asked.
He said: “If I am called to give evidence, I will give evidence. Due process will take place and I will fully co-operate.”
He added: “This is a matter for the courts. It would be wrong of me to interfere. I am no longer involved in any aspect of it. I am happy to contribute but I will leave the due process of law to work its way.” (...)
Dr Swire backed plans for a new appeal. He said: “Shortly before Megrahi died, I met him in Tripoli and reassured him I would still do everything I could to clear his name.
“I am delighted that this request for an appeal is now being placed before the SCCRC.”