Justice for Megrahi's petition PE1370 is on the agenda for the virtual meeting of the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee to be held tomorrow, Tuesday 02 March, at 10.30. The meeting will be broadcast on www.scottishparliament.tv. What follows is Justice for Megrahi's submission to the committee.
On 28th June 2011 the Public Petitions Committee referred the Justice for Megrahi (JfM) petition PE1370 to the Justice Committee for consideration. Its terms were as follows.
‘Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to open an independent inquiry into the 2001 Kamp van Zeist conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in December 1988.’
On 6th June, 2013, as part of its consideration, the Justice Committee wrote to Kenny MacAskill MSP, then Cabinet Secretary for Justice, asking for the Government’s comments on our request for a public enquiry. In his reply of 24th June 2013, while acknowledging, that under the Inquiries Act 2005, the Scottish Ministers had the power to establish an inquiry, he concluded:
‘Any conclusions reached by an inquiry would not have any effect on either upholding or overturning the conviction as it is appropriately a court of law that has this power. In addition to the matters noted above, we would also note that Lockerbie remains a live ongoing criminal investigation. In light of the above, the Scottish Government has no plans to institute an independent inquiry into the conviction of Mr Al-Megrahi.’
As you are aware the above petition was first heard by the Justice Committee on 8th November 2011 and has been kept open by the committee to allow various developments related to the Lockerbie case to be monitored.
On 6 March 2020 the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC),following a submission by the Megrahi family, referred the case back to the Court of Appeal.
On 15 January 2021 that court dismissed the appeal and upheld the original conviction. Aamer Anwar, the Megrahi family lawyer, has stated that the family willnow appeal to the UK Supreme Court and will continue pressing for the UK government to release a secret document thought to implicate Iran and a Palestinian terror group.
The Crown Office, Police Scotland and the American law enforcement authorities have all confirmed that the investigation into the bombing remains open and that leads are being actively pursued.
As the Cabinet Secretary for Justice stated on 24th June 2013, the decision whether an independent inquiry should be held in Scotland depends on the criminal investigation being completed and matters having been fully determined judicially. Until this happens we believe it is vital that our petition remains under consideration in the Scottish Parliament.
Deep controversy still surrounds the whole circumstances behind the investigation of the Lockerbie bombing and the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi and until fully resolved this tragedy will continue to cast a shadow over the Scottish justice system nationally and internationally.
We greatly value the Justice Committee’s continuing scrutiny and political oversight, which we believe is very much in the public interest, and we would respectfully urge the Committee to allow Petition PE1370 to remain on the table.
UPDATE 02 March 2021
The Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee at this morning's meeting decided unanimously to keep Justice for Megrahi's petition open. It will remain on the new committee's agenda following the Holyrood election in May. There were strong supporting speeches from a number of committee members. A video of the proceedings can be viewed here.