[This is the headline over a report in today's edition of The Times. It reads in part:]
Scottish detectives distanced themselves from a key Lockerbie witness, it has emerged, casting further doubt on the conviction of the only person ever found guilty over the attack.
Abdul Majid Giaka, a Libyan agent turned CIA informant, gave evidence that Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi collected a brown Samsonite suitcase from a Maltese airport the day before the 1988 bombing.
However, newly declassified files show that Scottish officers investigating the case admitted that his involvement had put them in a “delicate position”.
“The ‘birth’ of that witness was totally the making of the Americans,” they said in a document from 1991 that was marked secret.
It emerged this week that American prosecutors were seeking the extradition of the Libyan operative Abu Agila Mohammad Masud, accusing him of making the bomb that blew up Pan Am Flight 103, killing 270 people. He worked under Colonel Gaddafi and is serving a ten-year sentence for other crimes in a Tripoli prison.
The FBI is also believed to be interested in Abdullah Senussi, Gaddafi’s brother-in-law and security chief, who is suspected of overseeing the bombing and is in prison with Masud.
Lawyers carrying out a posthumous appeal on behalf of al-Megrahi, who died in 2012, say that the case against him was first made by Mr Giaka, whom they describe as “discredited”. They say that any charges levelled against Masud would fall apart if al-Megrahi’s conviction was overturned.
A report by the joint intelligence group of Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary has been declassified and placed in the National Archives at Kew. The dossier, seen by The Times, dates to October 1991, when reports of Mr Giaka’s emergence as an American asset began to circulate.
The document, written by Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Henderson, the senior investigating officer, says: “The development of the ‘new witness’ has placed us in a delicate position. The ‘birth’ of that witness was totally the making of the Americans. The Americans must be ‘as one’ with us in anything we propose to expose to the Maltese.”
The document also mentions Tony Gauci, a Maltese shopkeeper whose evidence played a decisive role in al-Megrahi’s conviction at a Scottish court convened in the Netherlands in 2000. It states: “The Americans are keen to approach the witness Tony Gauci and ‘ascertain’ if he feels insecure or otherwise. Their intention is to take Gauci to America.” (...)
However, in 2005 Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, the former lord advocate who drew up the indictment against al-Megrahi, expressed doubts over Gauci’s testimony, describing him as “not quite the full shilling”. Last month appeal judges were told that Mr Gauci had asked for money in return for giving evidence.
The court was also told that Mr Gauci had been shown a photograph of al-Megrahi before he picked him out in an identity parade.
Aamer Anwar, the lawyer representing the al-Megrahi family, said: “These documents shine a light on dark and desperate actions taken by the US intelligence services over Lockerbie.
“We can only surmise that the ‘new witness’ who had been ‘birthed’ by the Americans was Abdul Majid Giaka.
“Megrahi’s family understands he was first accused of being involved in a conspiracy by Giaka. There has always been a suggestion that Giaka may have fabricated matters to make himself more valuable to the Americans. If the conviction of the late Megrahi was overturned then the case against Abu Agila Masud is likely to fall apart.”
John Holt, a former CIA agent who worked closely with Mr Giaka, claimed that the informant was a fantasist and an opportunist.
“I handled Giaka in 1989 for a whole year during which he never mentioned Libyan involvement in the bombing,” he said. “He was a car mechanic who was placed by Libyan intelligence as Malta airport office manager with Libyan Arab Airlines and had very little information about anything to do with bombs or Lockerbie.
“He felt humiliated by Megrahi, who was an official with the Libyan intelligence service, so the CIA knew he had a grudge.”
Mr Holt claimed that Mr Giaka changed his story in 1991 after fearing that his cover had been blown.
This month Mr Holt said: “When he was told he was useless to our intelligence services he began making up stories. It was only when he needed desperately to flee Libya in 1991 that he started telling the CIA things relevant to the Pan Am bombing, like hearing Megrahi and another man talking about a plan to bomb an American airliner.” (...)