Sunday 28 September 2014

The winding path towards a Lockerbie trial

[On this date sixteen years ago a letter from me was published in The Scotsman. It read as follows:]

Your report ("Lockerbie suspects' lawyers sacked", 24 September [1998]) claims the new Libyan defence team had been appointed by the Libyan Government (or by Colonel Gaddafi).  What evidence is there for this?

I met five members of the team in Tripoli last Monday.  The chairman, Kamel Hassan Maghur, said he and his colleagues (who include the present President of the Tripoli Bar Association and the most senior past-President) had been appointed by the two suspects themselves; that their sole concern was with representing the interests of their clients;  that those interests did not necessarily coincide with the wishes or interests of the Libyan Government; and that if the Government sought to interfere in their work or to influence in any way the advice which the lawyers might render to their clients, they would not hesitate to publicise this fact in the international media.

Mr Maghur (who as well as being a former Foreign Minister, is also a retired Libyan Supreme Court judge) said nothing to indicate that his team wished to dispense with the services of Alistair Duff, the Edinburgh solicitor who for many years has represented the two suspects in Scotland: indeed, quite the reverse.

If, as you state, Dr Ibrahim Legwell is claiming (a) still to represent the suspects and (b) that the new team has been foisted on them without their consent, then this conflict should be speedily resolved by direct consultation with the accused themselves.  I was deeply impressed by the professionalism, commitment and independence of the Libyan lawyers. If they do indeed now represent the suspects, I am convinced that their interests are in capable hands.

[This letter appears no longer to feature in The Scotsman’s online archives. It, and other material relating to the change in Megrahi and Fhimah’s Libyan legal team, can be found here.]

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