Scottish authorities ‘attempted to pervert course of justice’ following terrorist bombing

By John Davison | 24 April 2013

“It really does open up a whole new perspective on Lockerbie”
Robert Black, professor emeritus of Scots law

Scottish police have launched an investigation into the conduct of the original case over the bombing of a Pan Am jumbo jet over Lockerbie.

Exaro can reveal the development amid allegations that Scotland’s police and prosecuting authorities attempted to pervert the course of justice in the case in which a Libyan man was convicted of the bombing.

Jim Swire, whose 23-year-old daughter, Flora, died in the Lockerbie bombing, said: “It is profoundly to be hoped that this will lead to an acknowledgment of error and a statement from the Scottish government regretting the fact that it has supported an unsupportable verdict, with the result that for years the real Lockerbie perpetrators have been protected.”

Pan Am’s Flight 103, en route from London Heathrow to New York, crashed in 1988 onto the small town of Lockerbie in the Dumfries and Galloway region of Scotland after a bomb hidden in the luggage hold blew open a hole in its fuselage. All 259 passengers and crew on the Boeing 747 were killed, together with 11 people on the ground.

It remains Britain’s biggest-ever terrorist attack, but controversy has dogged the investigation into the case.

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was jailed in 2001 for carrying out the bombing on behalf of Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan regime. Al-Megrahi died of cancer in Libya last year after being released on compassionate grounds in a move that sparked a storm of protest.

But campaigners, including relatives of some of those killed, say that he was wrongly convicted. They are demanding an independent inquiry into what they claim was a miscarriage of justice and a concerted cover-up by the Scottish authorities.

Last November, they lodged with Dumfries and Galloway Police a 39-page dossier of allegations of criminal conduct in the original investigation and in al-Megrahi’s trial. The force has since become part of the newly-formed Police Scotland.

Patrick Shearer, a deputy chief constable of Police Scotland and former chief constable of Dumfries and Galloway Police, met with campaigners’ representatives last week.

A chief inspector from Police Scotland’s complaints section accompanied Shearer to the meeting to discuss potential witnesses with two members of the committee of the Justice for Megrahi campaign, Robert Forrester and Iain McKie, a retired police superintendent.

A spokesman for Police Scotland confirmed the meeting, but would make no further comment.

Frank Mulholland, who as Lord Advocate is the head of the Crown Office, which is Scotland’s prosecuting authority, is on record as dismissing the campaigners as “conspiracy theorists” and has described their allegations as “without foundation”.

Campaigners have doubts that the new investigation can be independent following Mulholland’s comments.

They also say that Shearer is in the impossible position of having to investigate his own former force.

The campaigners in September submitted a shorter list of their allegations to Kenny MacAskill, Scotland’s justice minister, and asked him to use his powers to set up an independent investigation, headed by someone from outside Scotland.

But his office insisted at the time that such allegations could only be investigated by Dumfries and Galloway Police.

Robert Forrester, secretary of the Justice for Megrahi campaign, said: “We are delighted that our allegations are finally being investigated, but we are co-operating with the police under protest.”

Robert Black, professor emeritus of Scots law at the university of Edinburgh and a member of the campaign’s committee, said: “We have what I hope is a genuine police investigation into what precisely went wrong in the original investigation, prosecution and trial. Not just mistakes that were made – actual criminal conduct.

“If that is investigated seriously, then it really does open up a whole new perspective on Lockerbie.”

A spokesman for the Crown Office said: “The allegations made by Justice for Megrahi are being considered by DCC Shearer in accordance with due process, and it would be inappropriate to offer comment at this stage.”

Al-Megrahi lost an appeal against conviction in 2002.

But the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission in 2007 referred the case back for a second appeal, citing six grounds for believing that there may have been a miscarriage of justice.

Al-Megrahi dropped this appeal as part of the deal that saw him return to Libya after he was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.

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