Wednesday 27 October 2010

Cardinal backs call for independent inquiry into conviction of Megrahi

[This is the headline over The Herald's report on yesterday's event at the Scottish Parliament. It reads in part:]

The leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland has said the “web of mystery” surrounding the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing must be cleared up.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien was speaking as campaigners handed in a 1500-strong petition to the Scottish Parliament yesterday calling for an independent inquiry into the verdict on Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi.

Cardinal O’Brien said: “We’re living in the 21st century now and really it shouldn’t be beyond us, it shouldn’t be beyond the Scottish Government, to take this on. Or are we all eventually going to die in a web of mystery about what happened at the time of the horrible Lockerbie bombing?

“What I am concerned with is basic justice, to find out what exactly went on. I want to find out the truth and I think when I say that I am speaking for many, many people, not just religious people, people of no faiths at all are desperate to find out what went on that time.” (...)

Cardinal O’Brien said he wanted to see not only justice for Megrahi but also “justice for all the innocent people who died at that time, and their families and friends who are grieving and wanting to be able to draw a line under that horrible episode in the history of Scotland”.

The Cardinal’s support was welcomed by Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the atrocity.

Dr Swire, speaking for the Justice For Megrahi campaign, said if the Scottish Government could not find the “get up and go to find a way to resolve this issue, then it’s a poor day for Scotland”.

He said there was a “need to sort out the uncertainty about this verdict sooner or later”. (...)

A Scottish Government spokesman said there was no doubt about the safety of Megrahi’s conviction. He added: “The questions to be asked and answered in any such inquiry would be beyond the jurisdiction of Scots law and the remit of the Scottish Government.”

[The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission -- an independent, expert, official body -- concluded, after a three-year investigation, that there were six grounds on which Abdelbaset Megrahi's conviction might have amounted to a miscarriage of justice. How can the Scottish Government have the effrontery to parrot the mantra that there is "no doubt about the safety of Megrahi's conviction"?

The Scotsman's report on the Holyrood event can be read here; that in The Sun here; and that in the Morning Star here. A good report is also to be found on the website of The Courier and Advertiser, a daily newspaper with a large circulation in Dundee and Fife; and a slightly less detailed report on the website of The Press and Journal, a daily newspaper with a large circulation in Aberdeen and the North of Scotland.

The petition is open for signature until 28 October. It can be signed here.]


  1. The Herald reports Dr Swire as saying: "Please don’t think the Justice For Megrahi committee are saying Megrahi wasn’t guilty. What they are saying is we need to have that verdict reviewed because, in the words of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, it may have been a miscarriage of justice, and that simply isn’t good enough."

    On 1 November 2007, following his two-hour meeting in Greenock prison with Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, Professor Black said: "As a result of today's meeting I am satisfied that not only was there a wrongful conviction, but the victim of it was an innocent man. Lawyers, and I hope others, will appreciate this distinction."

    Is it me or can anyone see a distinction between "wrongly convicted", "not guilty" and "innocent" in the case of Mr al-Megrahi?

  2. It's really very simple, Patrick. I personally believe Abdelbaset Megrahi to be innocent. The stance of Justice for Megrahi as an organisation or campaign is that it need go no further than to try to convince people that he was wrongly convicted and to persuade them to act upon that fact.

  3. Further to Professor Black's comments, I would like to add that his remarks with regard to Mr al-Megrahi considerably predate the foundation of the JFM campaign to have the entire case, from 1988 to the present, reviewed. Moreover, both JFM signatories and committee members are completely free to express their personal opinions insofar as neither the name JFM or any JFM platform is associated with any views which may conflict with the JFM constitution. If such a conflict exists, the individual concerned must make it clear that they are speaking in a personal capacity.

    It is, therefore, obvious that in their statements neither Dr Swire nor Professor Black could possibly have been at odds with anything which JFM stands for.

    JFM hopes that this clarifies any misapprehensions that some commentators might be labouring under.

    Yours sincerely,
    Robert Forrester.

  4. One must absolutely act on the fact that Megrahi was clearly wrongly convicted lest it happen to others. If we don't act we put ourselves at risk.

    I too am convinced of Megrahi's innocence but I agree that it is not necessary to prove it - the burden of proof is not on him.

    Given these simple concepts I can't understand why there is not an absolute outcry.

    I think the fact that he is Libyan has a lot to do with it. The world also needs to know that Libyans are decent folk like one finds anywhere else, perhaps moreso than in many other places. So as one who has spent a lot of time in Libya, I try to get that meesage out too.