[What follows is the text of a press release issued by Aamer Anwar & Co:]
A sitting will be held on Friday 21st August 2020 at 10.00am for the procedural hearing in an appeal against conviction following our successful application to refer the conviction of the late Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi to the High Court for determination.
On Friday the case will presided over by Scotland’s most senior judge the Lord Justice General, Lord Carloway along with the Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian and Lord Menzies.
My firm of solicitors has instructed Claire Mitchell QC, Gordon Jackson QC, Clare Connelly and our Edinburgh Agent Rosemary Cameron as part of our legal team.
Our team will appear at the hearing together at the Glasgow Training Rooms, The Pentagon Centre, 36 Washington Street, Glasgow, G3 8AZ on Friday. We will arrive at approximately 9.05am and a statement will be issued following the hearing.
What is likely to happen at the hearing?
a. The hearing will take place by means of WEBEX, a video conferencing online application. The Judges will appear on Screen and our legal team will appear from the one facility in Glasgow. To be given access to the live proceedings please contact the head of Judicial Communications. [RB: To obtain permission for audio access to the hearing, email email@example.com. Only bona fide journalists are accorded video access.]
b. We will need to move the Court to allow the case to proceed in the name of the son of the deceased i.e. Ali Al-Megrahi
c. We need to have the grounds of appeal received and allow the court to consider them.
d. We need to move the Court to consider granting us authority to see certain documents over which public interest immunity is asserted. Our argument is that Public Interest Immunity Certificate is not everlasting, it has been 31 years since the bombing and the UK Government represented by the Advocate General should justify why it is still asserting PII and denying full disclosure of this information to our team.
On the 21st December 1988, 270 people from 21 countries were murdered in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, the worst terrorist atrocity ever committed in the United Kingdom.
Since then the case of Abdelbasset Al-Megrahi the only man ever convicted of the crime has been described as the worst miscarriage of justice in British legal history. The Appeal was commenced in 2007 but following the diagnosis of terminal cancer it was suddenly abandoned in 2009.
It is widely claimed that the Lockerbie bombing was ordered by Iran and carried out by a Syrian based terrorist group in retaliation for a US Navy strike on an Iranian Airbus six months earlier, in which 290 people died.
The reputation of the Scottish criminal justice system has suffered badly both at home and internationally because of widespread doubts about the conviction of Mr Al-Megrahi; he was convicted in a Scottish court of law and that is the only appropriate place for his guilt or innocence to be determined.
A reversal of the verdict would have meant that the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom stand accused of having lived a monumental lie for 31 years, imprisoning a man they knew to be innocent and punishing the Libyan people for a crime which they did not commit.
In June 2014 I lodged an application with the Commission (SCCRC) seeking to overturn the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi for murder. The application was submitted on behalf of the Immediate family members of the late Mr. Al-Megrahi along with Dr Jim Swire, Reverend John F Mosey and 22 other British relatives of passengers who died on board Pan Am Flight 103.
The Appeal Court in a judgment in July 2015, ruled that the relatives of Lockerbie bombing victims would not be allowed to pursue an appeal on behalf of the only man convicted of the crime. The families did not give up and in July 2017 a further application was lodged with the Commission on behalf of the Al-Megrahi family.
There can be never be a time limit on justice, the families who support this appeal have never given up their search for the truth. On March 11th 2020, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission decided that Mr. Megrahi’s case should be referred to the High Court for the determination.
The Commission believes that there may have been a miscarriage of justice in relation to the conviction, and that it is in the interests of justice to refer the case to the High Court.
The Commission believes that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred by reason of an ‘Unreasonable Verdict’ and the ground of ‘Non-Disclosure’. These grounds incorporate many of the issues we had identified in our application.
S106(3)(b) of the 1995 Act allows an appeal on the basis that a conviction was based upon a verdict that no reasonable jury, properly directed, could have returned. Despite the fact there was no jury here, that ground of appeal remains open to Mr Al Megrahi.
This ground relates to the Court’s finding that Mr Al Megrahi was the purchaser of items that were located within the suitcase which housed the bomb which destroyed Flight 103. Said items having been bought in a shop in Malta owned by Mr Tony Gauci.
The Commission have agreed with our submission that the Court could not reasonably find that Mr Megrahi was the purchaser of the items on the basis of the evidence which was before them. This finding was central to the Crown case against Mr Al Megrahi, in essence if he could not be linked to the items within the bomb suitcase, there would have been insufficient evidence to allow the Court to convict.
Mr Gauci’s statements and his evidence on identification were inconsistent and made in circumstances hugely prejudicial to Mr Al Megrahi. His evidence regarding the date of the purchase of the items from his store “could – and should – not have been accepted as credible or reliable.”
The Commission have concluded that no reasonable Court could have accepted the evidence that Mr Megrahi was identified as the purchaser of the items from Gauci’s shop. That being the case, no reasonable Court could have convicted him.
We submitted serious allegations of the failure of the Crown to disclose evidence which could have been key to the defence and interfered with the right to a fair trial.
The Crown failed in its duty of disclosure of relevant material to Mr Al Megrahi’s defence team prior to trial. This prejudiced the defence in their preparation and conduct of the trial to such an extent that the Commission have concluded that this may have given rise to a miscarriage of justice.
The Commission conclude that there should have been disclosure to the defence regarding:
* Information contained in the precognition statement provided by Mr Gauci to the Crown.
*A statement given by Sergeant Bussutil and a confidential police report regarding Mr Gauci’s exposure to photographs in a magazine prior to attending an identification parade.
*Reward monies paid to Mr Gauci and his brother. Documents have claimed that Scottish police officers and FBI agents had discussed as early as September 1989 ‘an offer of unlimited money to the Maltese shop keeper Tony Gauci.
Various reports have claimed that Tony Gauci received more than $2m in reward-money.
The Commission concluded that, when applying the Article 6 test regarding a fair trial under the ECHR, the failure by the Crown to disclose information regarding the photographs which had been viewed by Mr Gauci and the information on reward monies paid to the Gaucis, that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred.
Consent to disclose Information:
We are disappointed that the Scottish Government, the UK Government, the United States and other foreign governments have refused consent to disclose matters which at this time remain redacted in papers disclosed to us.
We have requested that the Lord Advocate abide by his duty to make full disclosure, but also insist that the UK Government do not retain a Public Interest Immunity Certificate thus concealing important information from the appellant’s legal team some 31 years after the actual bombing.
For the Megrahi family and many of the British families of the victims supporting the appeal, there is finally hope on what has been a long journey for truth and justice.
For further background please refer to:-
https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-51816857 (Lockerbie Appeal Bid Allowed)
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-43987079 (Lockerbie bomber's conviction to be reviewed)
https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/lockerbie-bombing-appeal-against-abdelbaset-22133295 (Lockerbie bombing: Appeal against Abdelbaset al-Megrahi's conviction lodged at High Court)