Friday, 11 May 2018

Lockerbie: Kenny McAskill and Alex Salmond must tell all

[This is the headline over a report in today's edition of the Daily Express. It reads in part:]

Former SNP ministers Kenny MacAskill and Alex Salmond should be hauled before MSPs to explain what they knew about the Lockerbie bomber’s conviction.

The demand came as the man who freed Abdelbaset al-Megrahi from prison said the case against the Libyan would “almost certainly” collapse on appeal.

During his tenure as Justice Secretary, Mr MacAskill insisted the Scottish Government “did not doubt” Megrahi’s conviction for Britain’s worst terrorist atrocity.

However, since standing down from Holyrood in 2016, he has performed a public U-turn and described the court’s decision as “probably unsafe”.

Mr Salmond has also used his chat show on Russian TV channel RT to suggest Megrahi – who died of prostate cancer in 2012 – was wrongly convicted for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988 with the loss of 270 lives.

Mr MacAskill yesterday dismissed the evidence of Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci, who said Megrahi bought the clothes shown to be in the bomb suitcase from his store.

It has since emerged that Mr Gauci was secretly paid $2million by the US Government and Mr MacAskill said it was “hard to see” how his evidence could be allowed to stand by appeal judges.

He added: “If it falls, then the case against Megrahi almost certainly collapses.”

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) recently launched a review to decide if a fresh appeal can be allowed.

Police Scotland is also nearing the end of a four-year investigation into serious allegations of criminality by Lockerbie investigators and prosecutors made by the campaign group Justice for Megrahi (JfM).

JfM spokesman Iain McKie called for Mr Salmond and Mr MacAskill to report any “relevant information” to both the police and the SCCRC.

He also demanded the pair should be required to appear before the Holyrood Justice Committee “as a matter of urgency” to explain their public statements since leaving office.

He said: “Kenny MacAskill turned down our request for a public inquiry into the conviction and yet now he is saying that same conviction is unsafe. Politicians in parliament are engaged in oversight and members of that committee should be made aware of all the facts.

“We are not attacking anybody, we are simply saying that important ex-politicians have a duty to bring forward every scrap of information they hold and also to explain how they came by that information. 

“It’s time the mists were cleared and MacAskill and Salmond are not helping to clear those mists.”


  1. I was a member of the SNP at the time they first formed a government in Scotland. I thought a public enquiry into the Megrahi conviction would have been high on their priorities, as it would reflect so badly on their Unionist opponents. What a surprise I got.

  2. Me too. I'm still a member, but I share your disappointment with their response to Lockerbie. The only party coming at it with clean hands, but they fell in line with the unionist parties on this. I wonder who was got at and how?

  3. I've always thought that it all stemmed from the ghastly error in 2007 of retaining the Law Officers from the previous administration (Angiolini as Lord Advocate and Mulholland as Solicitor General). They were both Crown Office creatures, having spent the whole of their careers there. The Megrahi conviction was the Office's finest hour, and under their leadership there was no prospect whatsoever of any move being countenanced that might call it into question.

  4. That's a good point. I thought at the time it was a brave thing to do, to show some respect to the previous administration who had only been very narrowly beaten in the 2007 election and demonstrate a willingness not to be partisan (not that that did them any good). But it seems to have had this unintended consequence.

    Alex and Kenny - and possibly Nicola - do act as if they genuinely believe all this rubbish about Libya and Malta and Megrahi really being involved even if he didn't do what he was convicted of doing. It makes some sort of sense that they're simply going with the briefings they've been given by their Crown Office advisors, whom they're inclined to trust more than a bunch of random protestors.

    I think the point Iain is quoted with in the above article is absolutely crucial. When in office Kenny was saying that he had no doubt the conviction was sound, and turned down appeals for an inquiry. Now he's saying the case will almost certainly collapse on appeal. What has changed? The fact that Tony Gauci received millions of dollars was known about in 2007, it was in the original SCCRC report. Why has Kenny now revised his opinion? I think the Justice Committee could have him squirming and I'd pay good money to see that.