[A report in today's edition of The Times carries the headline Lockerbie professor says secret service agents snooped on him. It reads in part:]
A senior legal figure who masterminded the Lockerbie trial believes that he was put under surveillance by the security services.
Robert Black, professor emeritus of Scots law at the University of Edinburgh, is convinced that his emails and telephone calls were intercepted at home and his campus office.
Professor Black spoke out after The Times published extracts from Foreign Office documents, circulated to Margaret Thatcher in 1989 when she was prime minister, which warned that relatives of the bomb victims were becoming increasingly vocal and required “careful watching”. (...)
Professor Black was the key architect of the arrangement that allowed Abdul Baset al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence agent, to stand trial under Scots law at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands in 2000.
After the trial, which ended with Megrahi being found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment, the academic became convinced that a miscarriage of justice had taken place.
Professor Black believes that he and Jim Swire, a former GP who became the public face of the campaign to secure an independent inquiry into the atrocity, attracted the attention of the intelligence services. Mr Swire’s daughter Flora was killed in the bombing.
“I had suspicions about interception of email communications and monitoring of telephone conversations both at my home and at my university office,” Professor Black said.
“In telephone conversations Dr Swire and I would sometimes deliberately include misleading information. On other occasions, if clicks and hissing made the apparent monitoring more than usually obvious, Dr Swire would say: ‘Hi guys’.”
Professor Black, who was born and brought up in Lockerbie, added: “This was at a time when I had put forward my proposal for a non-jury Lockerbie trial in the Netherlands after getting Libyan agreement to it. Opposition to it was virulent and those pressing the scheme, including Dr Swire and myself, were very unpopular in government circles.”
Dr Swire and the Rev John Mosey, who lost his daughter Helga in the tragedy, also claimed that their phone calls were often disrupted and their computer equipment interfered with after they spoke publicly about the case.
Peter Biddulph, a researcher and author who has spent years investigating the bombing, is also convinced that he was put under surveillance,
He said: “Around two weeks after I had interviewed Jim [Swire] I sat down and found every one of the files in my computer folder had been accessed that morning.
“It was a bit of a shock and I was in a flat panic. I ended up in my solicitor’s office swearing an affidavit, which is still in his safe. After that I got a second computer and made sure it wasn’t connected to the internet.”
The claims were corroborated by Hans Köchler, an Austrian academic, who was appointed by the UN to be an independent observer at the Camp Zeist trial.
He told The Times: “I had similar experiences in the time after the publication of my first report on the Lockerbie trial in 2001 and the following years, in terms of intrusion into the computer systems in my office in two different locations, leading to data loss and destruction of the operating system.”
A spokesman for the Crown Office said that Lockerbie remained a live criminal investigation.
The Foreign Office declined to comment.