Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Vital evidence on Lockerbie was withheld

[This is the headline over a report by Lucy Adams that was published in The Herald on this date in 2012. The following are excerpts:]

Evidence which could have undermined the prosecution's case in the Lockerbie trial was withheld by police for a decade, a chief constable has revealed.
Statements about a break-in at Heathrow airport just hours before the December 1988 bombing were kept by Dumfries and Galloway Police until 1999.
A letter from Pat Shearer, the current chief constable of the force, has finally admitted the police delay.
Mr Shearer also reveals the Crown Office knew about the break-in before the trial, but failed to tell the defence team.
Since 1991, police and prosecutors team had maintained the bomb which exploded on board Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie – killing 270 people – was placed on a flight from Malta, rather than at the London airport. This underpinned the case against Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the bombing in 2001.
Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the atrocity, believes the revelations would have undermined the trial. If the bomb was taken on at Heathrow, and had this information been shared, Dr Swire believes the investigation would have pointed elsewhere. (...)
Dr Swire said: "The evidence of barometric devices from Syria was rejected because they would have to have been put on the flight at Heathrow. We did not know then about the break-in.
"If it had been known about before the trial there would have been no prospect of getting a conviction. It has relevance to the foundations on which Mr Mulholland bases his approach to the interim Government in Libya, since the intention of his investigation still seems to be to link the conviction of Megrahi to the survivors of the Gaddafi regime. What about looking elsewhere?"
Mr Shearer's letter states no "suppression of evidence took place" but points out Dumfries and Galloway investigated the break-in in January 1989 and did not pass statements – including those from Ray Manly, then head of security at Heathrow's operators BAA – to the Crown until 1999.
The letter also reveals the Crown did not share this information until after Mr Manly himself approached the defence team in 2001.

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