[What follows is the text of a press release issued by Scottish National Party MSP, Christine Grahame.]
Claims that fresh DNA techniques could open up new leads in the Lockerbie case have been dismissed as a smokescreen by SNP MSP Christine Grahame. Ms Grahame has called on Detective Chief [Inspector] Michael Dalgleish who is heading the current review of evidence related to the Lockerbie bombing to explain why materials which it was claimed were packed along with the bomb were only checked for DNA in 2006.
Ms Grahame has also called on the police to confirm that a report dated 18th October 2006 by the Forensic Science Service commissioned on behalf of the Crown Office did find a DNA profile in the remains of an umbrella which the prosecution claimed was one of the items Megrahi had bought in Malta, but that it did not match his DNA. Ms Grahame said:
“It is difficult to believe that all of the actions and reactions of the Crown Office are purely coincidental so I remain hugely sceptical about the timing of this review of evidence. I am particularly concerned at the spin being placed on it by the Crown Office and the police that new forensic techniques will potentially yield a range of new suspects.
“A report written by John Robert Lowe of the Forensic Science Service in October 2006 and which I understand [DCI] Dalgleish has read, was able to establish that a crucial piece of evidence, the remains of an umbrella packed into the case carrying the bomb had a DNA profile still on it.
“I further understand that this was the first time any DNA testing had been undertaken on the bomb case contents despite the technique being available to investigators at the time. That report determined the DNA extracted from the inside of the umbrella did not belong to Mr Megrahi.
“The Crown Office claim Mr Megrahi bought this umbrella, as new, along with other items of clothing before packing these into a case containing the bomb.
“To dispel any suggestion that this review of evidence is little more than a smokescreen and a stalling tactic the Police and the Crown Office should clarify why key evidence was not DNA tested until 2006 and specifically what “fresh” forensic areas they are considering.”
Ms Grahame also said she had seen documents which show that Tony Gauci the Maltese shopkeeper who claimed Megrahi had bought the items said to have been packed with the bomb, was actively seeking payment for his evidence ahead of the trial. It recently emerged that Gauci had reportedly received over $2million from the US Government. Ms Grahame added:
“I have seen additional documents that were to be part of Mr Megrahi’s second appeal that show Tony Gauci, the Crown’s key witness, was actively looking for financial payment in return for his evidence. Both Scottish investigators and the FBI were made aware of this at the time of the investigation.
“An initial figure of $10,000 is mentioned in the documents but make it plain that potentially an “unlimited amount” could be made available in future. During the Maltese phase of the investigation a US satellite was monitoring telephone conversations made by Tony Gauci and documents I have seen show concerns being raised by the FBI to Scottish police investigators about Gauci’s welfare giving his emerging role as a key prosecution witness. The documents state that Gauci was wanting $10,000 “immediately”. At the trial Scottish police investigators and the Crown were aware of this financial interest by Gauci but did not inform Mr Megrahi’s Defence team.”
The offer of financial inducement breaches the specific instructions given by the then Lord Advocate Lord Fraser, at the time of the investigation that no financial inducement “of any kind” was to be made to any potential witness ahead of the trial.
”It casts a further dark shadow over the safety of the conviction and leaves the police and the Crown Office with many questions still to answer,” Ms Grahame added.
Note to editors
John Robert Lowe is a forensic scientist with the Forensic Science Service and has been regular used by the Crown Office as an expert witness.
[The Sun has a report on this issue by Myra Philp. It can be read here.]