Friday, 21 August 2020

Lockerbie bombing: Megrahi family plea to access government documents

[This is the headline over a report published this afternoon on the BBC News website. It reads in part:]

Lawyers for the family of the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing have asked to see protected UK government documents on the case.

They said it was "in the interest of justice" that they saw the items, which are covered by a public interest immunity certificate.

The call came as an appeal against Abdelbaset al-Megrahi's conviction returned to court. (...)

Megrahi's family have requested a posthumous appeal against the conviction following his death in 2012.

A virtual hearing took place before the Lord President, Lord Carloway [RB: In criminal proceedings Lord Carloway is properly described as the Lord Justice General], the Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorian and Lord Menzies.

Claire Mitchell QC, representing the Megrahi family, said the defence should have access to the protected documents.

She told the court: "Given the passage of time, these documents should fall now to be disclosed."

Ms Mitchell also said there had been a "systemic failure of disclosure" over a range of other documents connected with the case.

However, advocate depute Ronald Clancy QC said the Crown had gone out of its way to be "transparent" and provide material.

He said part of the problem with the "systemic failure argument" was that no attempt was made to define what the proper system should have been at the time.

Ian Duguid QC, representing the Advocate General, said the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs continued to assert public interest immunity over the two protected documents.

Lord Carloway said the judges would issue a written decision on the proceedings in due course, while the full appeal court hearing is provisionally scheduled to start on 23 November before five judges.

[RB: A longer and slightly more informative report is now available here on the STV News website.]

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