Monday, 4 September 2017

Probe into allegations of criminality in Megrahi investigation "still ongoing"

This is part of the headline over a report published in today’s edition of The Herald. It reads in part:

A three year police probe into allegations of criminality by Lockerbie investigators and prosecutors is still ongoing — 18 months after police said it had entered its “final stages”.

Police Scotland said they are still not in a position to say when Operation Sandwood, which was launched in February 2014, will be concluded and made public.

Police are investigating nine allegations of criminality levelled by campaign group Justice for Megrahi at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the police, and forensic officials involved in the investigation and legal processes relating to Megrahi’s conviction.

The allegations range from perverting the course of justice to perjury.

In March 2016, Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone told Holyrood’s Justice Committee the report had “entered its final phase”.

However, in the latest update, which will be considered by the committee on Tuesday, police said the operation remains ongoing.

“Although in its final stages, there are certain aspects that are not fully concluded,” Police Scotland told the committee.

Committee clerks said: “Once Police Scotland’s report is completed, it will be submitted for consideration by an independently appointed Queen’s Counsel appointed by Police Scotland, before going to the Crown Office.

“Clerks continue to seek updates from Police Scotland as to a likely publication date but Police Scotland is as yet not in a position to suggest when the report will be made public.

“The Justice for Megrahi submission indicates that it believes the report will be available to the Crown Office at some stage this year.”

Justice For Megrahi’s petition to Holyrood for an independent inquiry into the conviction has remained open for nearly seven years.

On 4 July 2017, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) confirmed it had received a third application to review the conviction.

Justice For Megrahi said: “JfM's sole interest remains acquiring justice for the victims of Pan Am 103, their families and friends, and those whom we regard as having been wrongly accused and convicted.

“This report is central to any further analysis of the Lockerbie tragedy, is of direct significance to the ongoing SCCRC consideration of the Megrahi family's submission for another appeal and is vital if the massive stain on the Scottish Justice system is ever to be removed.

“JfM has complete confidence in the work of Police Scotland on its behalf regarding JfM's various allegations of criminality associated with the conviction of Mr al Megrahi.

“Our present understanding is that the Police Scotland Operation Sandwood Report is in its final stages and will be available to the Lord Advocate at some stage this year.”

Mr Megrahi previously applied to the SCCRC in 2003, who referred his case to the High Court for appeal in 2007 but this appeal was abandoned in 2009.

In his authorised biography, Mr Megrahi claimed Kenny MacAskill, the SNP justice secretary at the time, urged him to drop his appeal as a way of helping his compassionate release from prison — a claim the Scottish Government denied.

After Mr Megrahi’s death in 2012, a second application was made to the SCCRC on his behalf in 2014, which was rejected in 2015 as the SCCRC had not had access to appeal materials from 2007-09.

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