General

By G.A.Ponsonby

First Minister Alex Salmond has called for the publication of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) report questioning the conviction of Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, the man known as the Lockerbie Bomber.

In a statement issued earlier today the First Minister said that it was in everyone’s interests that the report be made available in its entirety as soon as possible.

Mr Salmond said:

"It makes it easier to ensure that the whole statement of reasons is available publicly as soon as possible, which is something I have wanted to see for some time and which the Scottish government has been doing everything we can to enable.

"It is important that everyone is able to read the SCCRC report in its entirety, rather than the selective and partial accounts of its contents which have made their way into the public domain through various media reports, and this statement from Scotland's senior law officer is an important step forward in securing full and proper publication."

The calls from the First Minister follow assurances by Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland that members of the SCCRC would not be prosecuted for publishing the report.

In a move welcomed by Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill, Mr Mulholland said that while it was an offence for the commission to disclose information obtained in its investigations, he considered "it would not be in the public interest to prosecute, given the selective publication" already in the public domain.

The conviction of Mr Megrahi in a specially convened court in the Netherlands has been called into question ever since it was reached in January 2001, with many observers believing it a miscarriage of justice.

The SCCRC investigation unearthed six areas it claimed were sufficient to refer the case to appeal.  However in a move that is steeped in controversy Mr Megrahi dropped his appeal just prior to his release on compassionate grounds in 2009.

The recent publication of a book ‘Megrahi - You are My Jury - The Lockerbie Evidence’, by John Ashton re-ignited the controversy over the trial verdict and further evidence was revealed that cast doubt on the conviction.

Mr Ashton claims in the book that that the timer used in the explosive device that destroyed Pan Am flight 103 could not have come from Libya and that a Frankfurt based Syrian terrorist cell with links to PFLP-GC leader Ahmed Jibril may have been responsible.

In 2007, the Herald newspaper reported that an electronics engineer who was employed by the timer manufacturer, MEBO, admitted to planting the evidence.

According to the 2007 report:

Ulrich Lumpert, formerly an electronics engineer with Mebo AG, Zurich, has signed an affidavit admitting he committed perjury before the Scottish Court in the Netherlands.

In his affidavit he states that he stole a handmade sample of an "MST-13 Timer PC-board" from Mebo in Zurich and handed it over, on June 22 1989, to an "official person investigating the Lockerbie case."

He further states that the fragment of the timer, cut into two pieces for "supposedly forensic reasons," which was presented in court stemmed from the same piece.

He further states that when he became aware that this piece was used for an "intentional politically motivated criminal undertaking" he decided, out of fear for his life, to keep silent on the matter.

The calls from Mr Salmond follow the refusal of the UK Government to resolve problems caused by the data protection laws that were prohibiting publication of the SCCRC report.

The intervention of the Lord Advocate and Mr Salmond will be seen by many as an open invitation to short cut this blockage and an attempt by the Scottish Government to publish as much information as possible relating to the Lockerbie atrocity.

Click here to read full report

Comments  

 
# proudscot 2012-03-24 23:12
On the subject of this latest example of succeeding Westminster governments' culture of secrecy and cover-up, in order to prevent the publication of the truth in any matter, when such disclosure would embarrass them, or expose wrongdoing:

A quote from a poem by Burns;
"Here's freedom to them that wad read,
"Here's freedom to them that wad write,
"There's nane ever fear'd that the truth should be heard,
"But they whom the truth wad indict!"

If the UK government, and the Scottish legal establishment, have nothing to hide in their conduct of the Megrahi trial and the way evidence was obtained and later presented (or not!), then what do either of these establishments have to fear from full and frank publication of such proceedings?
 
 
# Legerwood 2012-03-24 23:20
Not only has much of the material in the report been covered in the book but the Herald, who had seen the report, recently covered it extensively in a series of articles about the review board's findings.

Under those circumstances not publishing it seems perverse.
 
 
# call me dave 2012-03-24 23:24
Saw this yesterday where K. Macskill had also called for it to be published.

So I agree 'publish and be dammed' as per the iron duke.
 
 
# balbeggie 2012-03-24 23:42
Sunday Herald are publishing it online tomorrow it seems.
 
 
# Hirta 2012-03-24 23:25
Publish every single word. The Scottish Govt has nothing to hide, and everything to gain, unlike most others in this case.
 
 
# sneckedagain 2012-03-24 23:35
The publication of this will demolish the case against al Megrahi.
What is rather more problematic is that it will also point very firmly at a delberate framing of an innocent man by UK and US collusion, the collusion of respected Scottish elements in this and the central conundrum. Was the bombing of this plane offered to Iran as revenge for the shooting down of the Iranian airbus, as suggested by Tam Dalyell and believed by many informed people?
That is the real horror story.
 
 
# balbeggie 2012-03-24 23:41
sunday herald‏@newsund ayherald


@newsundayheral d to put full 'secret' Megrahi report online tomorrow .. all 800+ pages. Front page already posted

twitpic.com/90u47e
 
 
# Barontorc 2012-03-25 00:02
The can of worms is now opened. I could imagine certain UK Gov politicians will be sleeping less than easily tonight.

If there are Scottish conspirators who actively assisted in this shameful business, they should be open to the full glare of public opinion.

The six areas of concern listed by the SCCRC are staggering in their importance, yet, were left untouched, to the discredit of our Scottish justice system, thus prevented and unable to close the loop with key players.

A horrific crime, that was only minutes from being swallowed in the North Sea, was stuck into Scotland's lap. We must see it finished.
 
 
# Holebender 2012-03-25 05:05
[pedant]Far more likely to have been the Irish Sea or the Atlantic Ocean than the North Sea![/pedant]
 
 
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-25 13:03
Not true, anyway. The plane would have been over land for a lot longer than "a few minutes" on the course it was assigned. It was heading over Glasgow, and up over Skye and Benbecula. If it had been on the more usual route, it would have been over Ireland.

Contrary to myth, it wasn't late. It had a seven-hour flight ahead of it, with a thousand miles of Atlantic ocean where incriminating clothes and printed circuit boards could have vanished forever. Why would anyone in possession of the sort of countdown timer alleged to have been used set it for only 40 minutes into a 7-hour flight?

Was it just a coincidence that a completely different set of thugs (i.e. not the Libyans) were planning on using an altimeter-triggered device to blow up a plane, a trigger that would have cause the bomb to detonate about 40 minutes from when its wheels left the tarmac irrespective of what time that was?
 
 
# dundie 2012-03-25 00:02
Get it right out in the open, and let the Scottish people make up their own minds. The current Scottish Government has nothing to hide. Others may...
 
 
# Hirta 2012-03-25 00:09
login.heraldscotland.com/.../

Quote:
The Sunday Herald has chosen to publish the full report online today to allow the public to see for themselves the analysis of the evidence which could have resulted in the acquittal of Megrahi. Under Section 32 of the Data Protection Act, journalists can publish in the public interest.
 
 
# Macart 2012-03-25 00:14
You can practically hear the squeaking on those plush leather seats in Westminster now. One way or another this lot's going to come out and then hit the fan. Well done to the SG in calling for full publication.
 
 
# Hirta 2012-03-25 00:20
Quote:
The Scottish Government has said it wants to release the document in the interests of transparency but cannot do so because it is covered by data-protection law, reserved to Westminster.


Another damn good reason for independence, don't you think?

Transparent - something I hope the SNP / Scottish Govt continue to be. :)
 
 
# Jiggsbro 2012-03-25 00:42
From the report:

"21.101 Based on these conclusions the Commission is of the view that the verdict in the case is at least arguably one which no reasonable court, properly directed, could have returned. In these circumstances the Commission considers that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred in the applicant’s case."

"22.90 Adopting the test applied by the Privy Council in Holland and Sinclair, the
Commission is unable to conclude that evidence of the undisclosed items “might not possibly” have affected the verdict in the applicant’s case. Accordingly the Commission considers that the failure to disclose the items may have resulted in a miscarriage of justice"
 
 
# Jiggsbro 2012-03-25 00:46
"23.62 Applying the principles in McLeod and those set out by the Privy Council in
Holland and Sinclair, the Commission is of the view that Mr Bell’s memoranda and
the passages from Strathclyde Police report quoted above ought to have been
disclosed to the defence. Taken together, all three items were likely to have been of material assistance to the proper preparation or presentation of the applicant’s defence and were likely to have been of real importance in undermining the Crown case."
 
 
# Jiggsbro 2012-03-25 00:48
"24.108 In conclusion, the passage in Mr Gauci’s Crown precognition might have
played a useful part in the preparation and presentation of the defence case in that it would have assisted in challenging Mr Gauci’s evidence that the purchase took place about a fortnight before Christmas and in undermining the date of purchase advanced by the Crown. In the Commission’s view by withholding this information the Crown deprived the defence of the opportunity to take such steps as it might have deemed necessary. Given the importance which the trial court attached to the date of purchase in drawing the inference that the applicant was the purchaser the commission is unable to say that such measures might not have affected the verdict"
 
 
# Jiggsbro 2012-03-25 00:49
"Overall conclusion

24.109 In the Commission’s view the grounds addressed in this chapter, taken
together or in isolation, indicate that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred."
 
 
# Jiggsbro 2012-03-25 00:52
"27.216 In accordance with the principles set out at the beginning of this chapter the Commission has also considered whether, notwithstanding its conclusion that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred, the entirety of the evidence considered by it points irrefutably to the applicant’s guilt. The Commission’s conclusion is that it does not.

27.217 In these circumstances the Commission believes not only that there may have been a miscarriage of justice in the applicant’s case, but also that it is in the interests of justice to refer the case to the High Court. The Commission accordingly does so."
 
 
# Kinghob 2012-03-25 02:06
21.101 "Based on these conclusions the Commission is of the view that the verdict in the case is at least arguably one which no reasonable court, properly directed, could have returned."

Which removes the burden of the wrong verdict as being a fault of Scots Law (not that Megrahi was convicted under Scots Law as opposed to "CIA Law") where a Jury rather than three judges delivered the verdict.

Scots Law requires a Jury.

There are many areas of this trial that fail to reflect the principle of Scots Law or any other frigging Law for that matter......just ask the U.N. Observers: Paul Foot published their findings on the trial of Megrahi (or Basset) as a post note to his own Private Eye Special Report still available from Private Eye. for a mere fiver!!!...........

Well worth it.
 
 
# Angry_Weegie 2012-03-25 02:52
So the SCCRC identified 6 grounds of appeal,certainl y casting doubt on the original trial verdict. However, without an appeal, no one can do more than speculate on whether the appeal would have been upheld. Maybe the best way to settle this would be to have the second appeal go ahead, always assuming that it would be possible to get an unbiased verdict, given the publicity the case has generated.
 
 
# UpSpake 2012-03-25 06:43
Scots were victims of the Lockerbie tragedy as much as the US. England had little or no victims. It would seem totally logical to have everything out in the open to validate the action they took post the event.
If justice was less than done then the issue rests with the Judiciary and no-one else, surely.
Why would the Scots government or the UK government with-hold anything ?. Secrecy suggests that they do have something to hide. Could it then be that they were involved in some way with this tragedy ?. That's the only conclusion a bystander could reasonably arrive at !.
 
 
# Barontorc 2012-03-25 08:50
UpSpake - of course there are failings in the Scottish elements of this post-disaster investigation; deliberate or otherwise is for some other body to ascertain, but there are issues with doctored evidence identification slips which could implicate the police, investigative failings relating to the dates and actual weather conditions on the date in question from Gucci's testimony, there is the involvement of the police in the CIA bounty payments to Gucci, all of which, these and other problem areas - lie at the door of the Scottish authorities.
 
 
# Exile 2012-03-28 06:50
Of course they were involved. Thatcher was up to her neck in it with Bush snr. Sacked her own transport minister when he was about to point the finger at the Syrian/Palestinian connection. The foulness at the heart of the US regime .... I can't go on. Vote YES YES YES in 2014 to get shot of the lot of them.
 
 
# Blanco 2012-03-25 08:04
Are we to have an appeal by public opinion only? Most unsatisfactory if so.
 
 
# sneckedagain 2012-03-25 11:50
The blowing up of Pan Am Flight 103 and the handing over of two innocent Libyans to be fitted up achieved politically a number of significant results.
1) The Iranians got their revenge for the blowing up of the Iranian Airbus by the US
2) Sanctions against Gaddafi and Libya were lifted allowing the west access to Libyan oil.
3)Relations with Iran were normalised allowing the west access to Iranian oil.

The publication of this report will sink the conviction against al Megrahi without trace.
What it will not do is tell us why this fit up was organised and why the US took diplomats, intelligence officers, military personnel and a High S African government party off the Pan Am flights that day and allowed the seats to go to students.
That plane was "given" to Iran by the US.
That is why the truth has been concealed
 
 
# john__ 2012-03-25 22:19
Now here is a worrying scenario: Someone may decide that suspicion falling on Iran with regards the lockerbie bombing may make it easier to go to war with Iran in the very near future...

Lots of people are saying that it was Iran, but I have heard of no evidence. I suspect that we will never know.

John
 
 
# Exile 2012-03-28 06:54
On that basis the US should go to war with itself. The American government gave up its own people to die in this. Is David Icke perhaps correct? Are the US governing class all really shapeshifting reptilian aliens? They certainly have the moral sense of a reptile. Cold doesn't begin to describe it.
 
 
# 1314 2012-03-25 13:08
The Megrahi conviction was a blight on the Scottish justice system and we should stand up and say so.

But we shouldn't fool ourselves - in spite of the UK government's condemnation of the release of Megrahi (Cameron, Brown etc) they will see no doublethink in condemning the Scottish Government (which didn't exist at the time) for imprisoning an innocent man.

Twist and turn, U turn, it's all the same to them. Power retained. Business as usual.
 
 
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-25 14:30
The incongruity of the SCCRC report is revealed on page 13, paragraph 1.3.
Quote:
So far as the procedures at Heathrow, Frankfurt and Luqa airports are concerned, the application contained very limited submissions. Because of this and the substantial attention given to these matters at both trial and appeal, the Commission did not undertake specific enquiries into this aspect of the case. During the course of its review, the Commission came across nothing which might cast doubt on the evidence led by the Crown in this connection.



The thing is, this is the very heart of the case. It's understandable that the defence didn't go after it in the appeal, because there was really no new evidence. The problem is that the evidence led by the Crown in 2000 shows a far far greater probability that the bomb was introduced at Heathrow than at Luqa.

There was no evidence AT ALL that the bomb was ever within a thousand miles of the island of Malta, in the context of a diligent inquiry on Malta that should certainly have turned up such evidence if that had in fact happened. In particular there was very strong evidence that there was no unaccompanied luggage on the flight from Luqa to Frankfurt that morning.

The evidence relied on from Frankfurt to show that a rogue item was unloaded from this flight on to which no rogue item was loaded in the first place, was beyond tenuous. It was never possible to trace the origin of every item that went through the computer-controlled system to PA103A, or reconcile everything to legitimate passenger luggage. Amid a confused muddle of scribbled worksheets and inconsistent paperwork, the item that seemed to have come from Malta was seized on from a number of items that were never identified, purely because the clothes thought to have been packed round the bomb were made in Malta.

But the clothes were sold weeks before the bombing, and what terrorist who had a completely untraceable method of getting a bomb past the very tight Malta security would then blow it by loading the case with brand-new traceable clothes bought only three miles from that airport, and then setting a countdown timer so early in the flight that the plane was highly likely to go down on land, and indeed there was a good chance the explosion might actually have happened at ground level?

Meanwhile there was a stack of consistent and coherent evidence pointing to the bomb having been introduced at Heathrow. This included an actual sighting of a mysterious unidentified case matching the description of the bomb suitcase, pretty much in the position of the eventual explosion in the baggage container, an hour before the flight from Frankfurt landed.

The judges put their telescopes to their blind eyes and said, "we see no ships". Pay no attention to that brown Samsonite suitcase behind the curtain, look at Malta and this entirely imaginary evidence-free introduction.

It was all about protecting Heathrow right from day one, and it's still all about protecting Heathrow. The SCCRC don't intend to challenge the routing of the bomb proposed by the Crown, and the defence think they can get their client acquitted by trashing the identification evidence.

The defence are probably right. But until someone in authority accepts that the bomb didn't travel from the Mediterranean that morning, nobody is going to be any further forward in figuring out what did happen.
 
 
# sneckedagain 2012-03-25 15:36
That was the bomb that travelled from Malta to Frankfurt at hedge height if the initial statement (quickly withdrawn)that it was set off by altitude was to be believed.

The notion that a bomb could be put on a plane at Malta and be confidently expected to make it onto the correct flight at the correct time after two carrier changes is perhaps the most absurd part of this whole disgrace.
 
 
# Barontorc 2012-03-25 18:10
Snecked - I find it hard to believe that our cops - capable, hard nosed detectives, not rookies by any measure, did not come up against these open ends. My problem is in believing they didn't ask relevant questions.

They must have got answers. If these answers didn't stack-up and these cops accepted what they were told then someone known to the Scottish police has laid a smokescreen to obscure, or indeed confound the truth.

I feel this may be closer to what happened and some gagging rule has been enforced. Such action could not be undertaken by any foreign power, thereby sits uneasy, the UK cap which is now under the microscope.

The can of worms is lying open.
 
 
# red kite 2012-03-25 21:31
Quoting Barontorc:
Snecked - I find it hard to believe that our cops - capable, hard nosed detectives, not rookies by any measure, did not come up against these open ends.


But the Scottish police were not the ones in charge. The Americans were in charge of the investigation from day one, from the Orange room in the police station in Glasgow.
Ordinary polis were not allowed on that floor of the building.
 
 
# Barontorc 2012-03-26 12:14
RK - it was detectives from D&G who travelled to Malta. They must have come across the confused evidence lines and queried them. What were they told and by whom to make them back-off with any further questions? Who on the UK side was dealing as link with the Americans?

If Det "Joe Bloggs" from D&G had legit questions and then shut up about them - he was either persuaded to accept the official line or told to shut up and bog-off. By whom?
 
 
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-25 21:41
They were steered firmly away from Heathrow right from the start. It was the nightmare of the Met - a major terrorist infiltration of London's main airport. They sure as hell didn't want to deal with that. And Maggie Thatcher didn't want the recently privatised BAA to carry the can. And the D&G didn't want to lose the case of the century to the Met (who didn't want it anyway).

The evidence pointing to Heathrow emerged gradually over the first few months. It seems that once the party line had been established that it wasn't Heathrow (and that was first said on 30th December 1988), each piece of evidence was waved away as it turned up with nobody really looking at the cumulative effect.

Personally I think they did try to follow up the Heathrow leads at first, but found security so lax with so many unaccounted-for passes and everyone agreeing that anyone wearing the right uniform could simply walk in and put any suitcase anywhere they liked and nobody would even notice, that they got nowhere. Realising they were on a hiding to nothing - that if the bomb had been put on board that way there was no hope of finding out how and by whom, and pursuing it would only expose a shocking absence of security - they backed off and started blaming Frankfurt.

Frankfurt didn't want to carry the can either, so they insisted it was Heathrow, and the two sides more or less sat and glared at each other for eight months, until they decided to bury the hatchet and go after Malta instead.

Its all there in the various books written by people involved in the case in the first few years. David Leppard, even when he thinks he's publishing the police line, inadvertently makes it clear what actually happened.
 
 
# Marga B 2012-03-25 15:59
Surprisingly little discussion on this.
 
 
# Hirta 2012-03-25 18:13
Reading 822 pages takes it time :-O)
 
 
# Marga B 2012-03-25 19:49
Seems many opinion formers (not the public though) have already seen this report. Expect their opinions tomorrow, then!
 
 
# the wallace 2012-03-25 19:34
The power of the truth about lockerbie, has the power to destroy the union,so the sooner the snp get all info about it into the public domain the better.If it brings down the liars and villans on both sides of the atlantic, then the rest of the world will thank the snp,but the guilty must be [Edited - NNS Mod Team] themselves and rightly so.
 
 
# UpSpake 2012-03-26 07:31
The Lockerbie story never goes away. Each time the head of the Hydra is cut off another one grows. Perhaps it is up to the Scots government to provide the Golden Sword which will cut off and expose the immortal head.
The Hydra had namy heads, some say up to 70 ?
 
 
# davidferguson1 2012-03-27 02:00
What happened to the other, more recent Lockerbie story? Did it have to be pulled for legal reasons? Super-injunction? Not even allowed to refer to it?
 
 
# Am Fògarrach 2012-03-27 18:54
Quoting davidferguson1:
What happened to the other, more recent Lockerbie story? Did it have to be pulled for legal reasons? Super-injunction? Not even allowed to refer to it?


You can download all 802 pages (10.5MB from the Herald at heraldscotland.com/.../....
 
 
# davidferguson1 2012-03-28 01:27
Thanks, but that's not what I meant. Newsnet had another rather hard-hitting and more recent story about the conduct of some of those involved in the prosecution, with several dozen comments. The whole thing has disappeared off the face of the earth. I would have thought that if they had to pull it for legal reasons at least they ought to be able to say so.
 
 
# UpSpake 2012-03-28 07:26
Sort of disappeared as quickly as the story on petrol prices. Were these two articles too far ??
 
 
# Caadfael 2012-03-29 10:04
Timer fragments,
I find it odd that no mention is ever made to forensic examination for explosive residues .. or did I miss that?
 

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