Monday, 26 March 2018

Alex Salmond must answer for Lockerbie comments, say campaigners

[This is the headline over a report just published on the website of The National. It reads as follows:]

Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill should be called before the Justice Committee to answer ten key questions on the Lockerbie bombing, campaigners claim.

In a petition to the cross-party Holyrood panel, the Justice for Megrahi (JfM) pressure group says the ex-politicians, who served together as First Minister and Justice Minister, must account for public statements relating to the 1988 atrocity.

These include expressions of doubt over the conviction of Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, who died in 2012 more than two years after being released from Greenock Prison on compassionate grounds.

JfM triggered a major probe into the conduct of prosecutors, police and forensic officials involved in the investigation and legal actions relating to Megrahi's conviction after making nine allegations of wrongdoing.

Titled Operation Sandwood, it was launched in February 2014 and is yet to conclude.

The petition, due to be heard tomorrow, calls for Salmond – who said evidence used to convict Megrahi was "open to question" – and MacAskill to explain whether or not confidential information was "misused" in comments made in the media and for the basis behind claims made by MacAskill in his 2016 book on the case.

These include the assertion that Megrahi, the only person ever convicted over the terror attack, did not buy clothes found in the suitcase that contained the bomb from the Malta shop of witness Tony Gauci.

In a statement, JfM said such a move is "long overdue". The group, whose members include Dr Jim Swire – whose daughter Flora was amongst the 270 killed, stated: "Since leaving office Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill have not only cast doubts on the safety of Abelbaset al Megrahi’s conviction for the 1988 atrocity that killed 270 people but implied possible interference in the political and legal process and raised questions about the possible misuse of confidential information.

"As Police Scotland prepares to submit its report to Crown Office on a four-year enquiry into JfM’s nine allegations of criminality against police and officials involved in the investigation and trial of Abdelbaset al Megrahi, JfM believes it is vital that the committee investigates the possibility of mistakes or malpractice in the Lockerbie related political decisions that have been made.”

[RB: The report in The National has now been updated to include a response from Alex Salmond.]

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