Thursday, 22 March 2018

Justice for Megrahi petition on agenda for next Justice Committee meeting

[Justice for Megrahi’s petition (PE1370) is once again on the agenda
for the meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee to be
held on Tuesday 27 March 2018 starting at 10.00 in Holyrood
Committee Room 2. What follows is excerpted from the
meeting papers:]

Options available to Committees considering petitions
5. Once a petition has been referred to a subject Committee it is for the Committee
to decide how, or if, it wishes to take the petition forward. Among options open to
the Committee are to:  
*Keep the petition open and write to the Scottish Government or other
stakeholders seeking their views on what the petition is calling for, or views
on further information to have emerged over the course of considering the petition;
*Keep the petition open and take oral evidence from the petitioner, from relevant
stakeholders or from the Scottish Government;
*Keep the petition open and await the outcome of a specific piece of work, such as
a consultation or piece of legislation before deciding what to do next;  
*Close the petition on the grounds that the Scottish Government has made its
position clear, or that the Scottish Government has made some or all of the
changes requested by the petition, or that the Committee, after due consideration,
has decided it does not support the petition;  
*Close the petition on the grounds that a current consultation, call for evidence or
inquiry gives the petitioner the opportunity to contribute to the policy process.

PE1370: Independent inquiry into the Megrahi conviction
Terms of the petition
PE1370 (lodged 1 November 2010):
The petition on behalf of Justice for Megrahi (JFM), calls on the Scottish Parliament
to urge the Scottish Government to open an independent inquiry into the 2001
Kamp van Zeist conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi for the bombing
of Pan Am flight 103 in December 1988.

Current consideration
7. At its meeting on 19 December 2017 the Committee agreed, as it had at its
meetings on 5 September 2017, 2 May 2017 and 24 January 2017, to keep the
petition open pending completion of Operation Sandwood. This is the operational
name for Police Scotland‟s investigation into the nine allegations of criminality
levelled by 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.

8. The clerks understand from Police Scotland that the operation is in its concluding
stage. 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. Following submission of the
report, there will be discussion with the Crown Office as to what information, if any,
can be made public.

9. On 4 July 2017, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC)
confirmed it had received an application to review the conviction. The SCCRC
may refer a case to the High Court if it believes that a miscarriage of justice may
have occurred and that it is in the interests of justice that a reference should be
made. The SCCRC stated that it will give careful consideration to this new
application, but that it will not make any further comment at this time. No further
information is available.

10. The Committee is asked to consider and agree what action it wishes to take
in relation to the petition (see paragraph 5 for possible options).

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