Important New Book on Lockerbie Bombing: 8 Key Pieces Of Evidence Re-Examined

An important new book on the 1988 Lockerbie bombing has been published today which explores a number of key areas crucial to the case, including eight which relate to previously unseen evidence. Author John Ashton, a former member of the Megrahi defence team, has had access to Megrahi himself, who tells his own story for the first time.

This morning The Herald published exclusive extracts of the book, ‘MEGRAHI: YOU ARE MY JURY’ on their website and we reprint them here. The Herald’s chief reporter LUCY ADAMS present extracts from the book and explain why they matter.

1.Why Megrahi dropped the appeal

CONTEXT: Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi had two possible routes out of Greenock jail in August 2009: a prisoner transfer application for which he first had to drop his appeal, or compassionate release because of his prostate cancer. The latter route did not demand that he drop his appeal, in contrast to the former. In the event, he ended his appeal, yet the PTA was turned down, and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill instead granted compassionate release. The chain of actions has always been a mystery, leaving those who believe in Megrahi’s guilt to see his decision as confirmation of their views. Why would an innocent man not pursue an appeal against conviction that he had waited years to begin? Now, for the first time, Megrahi claims that he was pressured to drop the appeal by Mr MacAskill personally through diplomatic channels.

EXTRACT: “On 10 August MacAskill and his senior civil servants met a delegation of Libyan officials, including Minister [Abdel Ali] Al-Obeidi. By this time I was desperate. The 90-day time limit for considering the prisoner transfer application had passed and, although I had some vocal public supporters, MacAskill was coming under considerable pressure to reject both applications. After the meeting the Libyan delegation came to the prison to visit me. Obeidi said that, towards the end of the meeting, MacAskill had asked to speak to him in private. Once the others had withdrawn, MacAskill told him it would be easier for him to grant compassionate release if I dropped my appeal. He [MacAskill] said he was not demanding that I do so, but the message seemed to me to be clear. I was legally entitled to continue the appeal, but I could not risk doing so. It meant abandoning my quest for justice.”

LUCY ADAMS VERDICT:  Mr MacAskill, who was not contacted in advance of today’s book publication, has always said he could not interfere in the judicial process. If Megrahi’s version of events is true, it will prove very damaging to the minister, who has repeatedly distanced himself from any appeal which, if it had gone ahead, could have been a massive embarrassment to the Scottish legal system. The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission had already found six grounds on which Megrahi’s conviction was potentially unsafe.

2. The timer fragment

CONTEXT: At Megrahi’s trial at Camp Zeist, it was agreed that the fragment of electrical circuit board found at the Lockerbie crash site [and referred to as PT/35b] came from an MST-13 board manufactured by the Swiss company Mebo and Thuring, its supplier. Mebo revealed that it had sold 20 such timers to the Libyans, and this became a hugely significant part of the case against Megrahi. However, the book claims that new evidence shows the fragment of circuit board found at Lockerbie, which was 100% covered in tin, did not match those in the timers sent to Libya and alleges that the Crown’s forensic expert at trial, Allen Feraday, was aware of the disparity but failed to disclose it.

EXTRACT: “On 23 October 2008, at just after 7pm, a member of [Tony] Kelly’s [defence] team finally put the crucial question to Bonfadelli [Urs Bonfadelli was responsible for the manufacture of Mebo’s MST-13 boards]: was the circuitry of the MST-13 boards coated with pure tin or a tin/lead alloy? His answer was clear and devastating: all were coated with an alloy of 70% tin and 30% lead. There could be no mistaking this, he said. It was imminently apparent what this meant: if PT/35b’s coating had not been changed by the explosion, then it could not have been made by Thuring and therefore could not have been one of the 20 timers supplied to Libya.”

Mr Kelly subsequently instructed two independent experts to see if the heat of the explosion could have turned the fragment’s tin/lead alloy to tin – Dr Chris McArdle, who had 25 years experience in the electronics industry, and Dr Jess Cawley, a metallurgist with over 35 years experience. The book adds: “..McArdle pointed out there was no way that it would have been hot enough for the lead to have evaporated away… Cawley agreed, pointing out that, although plastic explosives of the type used in the Lockerbie bomb produce a flash of intense heat, lead, like most metals, requires a far longer exposure to high temperatures before it would melt, let alone evaporate.”

Documents from the Ministry of Defence Royal Armaments Research and Development Establishment, disclosed by the Crown just before Megrahi’s appeal was dropped, revealed contradictory notes from Mr Feraday saying the coating was pure tin and then “70/30 SN/Pb” (70% tin and 30% lead). The book states: “Had these documents been disclosed to the defence team, they would have provided the basis for a vigorous cross-examination of Feraday.”

LUCY ADAMS VERDICT: This was one of the most important components of the prosecution case against Megrahi. As the book admits, this was the “golden thread”. However, shortly before Megrahi dropped his appeal, his defence team found proof that the timer was not one of those supplied by Mebo to the Libyans. If anything author John Ashton suggests – based on expert opinion – that the circuit board was likely to have been “DIY” rather than commercially manufactured. With this information, the golden thread falls.

3. The Iranian connection

CONTEXT: In the book’s preface, Megrahi says he does not want to “point the finger of blame at anyone else”, but much of the material drawn together will lead readers to believe that Iran funded the PFLP-GC [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command] to carry out the bombing, in retaliation for the American warship the USS Vincennes shooting down an Iranian passenger jet and killing all 300 people on board in 1988. The US apparently mistook it for an F-14 fighter. EXTRACT: “The most difficult witness [for the defence team] to get to was the PFLP-GC bomb-maker and double agent Marwen Khreesat. Asked about the aim of his October 1988 mission to West Germany, Khreesat was unambiguous: ‘It was made very clear to us by Ahmed Jibril [leader of the PFLPC-GC] that he wanted to blow up an aeroplane. This was the whole purpose of being there. Dalkamoni and I travelled to Frankfurt in order to go to the offices of Pan Am to get information about their flight schedules. We did this. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Jibril wanted a Pan Am flight out of Frankfurt blown up.’ Although Khreesat remained adamant that his bombs were not of the twin-speaker type used for the Lockerbie bomb, he revealed that Dalkamoni had at least one other radio cassette bomb. If Khreesat was right, here at last was confirmation that the PFLP-GC had at least one twin speaker device in West Germany.”

LUCY ADAMS VERDICT: The initial investigation into Lockerbie in 1989 all pointed towards the culpability of a German cell of the PFLP-GC. There is much within the book, including the above statement by bomb-maker Marwen Khreesat which appears to confirm this view. There are also notes showing that Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher blocked a public inquiry in the bombing and an explanation that politically it was not expedient to fall out with Iran – whose oil was relied upon – in the run-up to the Gulf War against Iraq. A great deal of the evidence incriminating the PFLPC-GC was not disclosed at the original trial or appeal. The heavily referenced allegations in the book make it seem more likely that they were behind the Lockerbie bombing than Libya. To have dismissed the evidence against them at the time raises questions about the role and potential bias of some of the security agencies involved, and the murkiness of the international politics which has always shrouded the Lockerbie case.

4. Reward money and the reliability of witnesses

CONTEXT: In the UK witnesses cannot be paid for their information. However, the book describes in detail how both Tony and Paul Gauci were offered reward money by the American Justice Department. And, we learn for the first time, that this was discussed even before Tony Gauci’s first statement. The book also reveals that Edwin Bollier, who ran Mebo and testified against Megrahi, was very interested in “the reward money”.

EXTRACT: “The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) concluded ‘In referring the case on this ground the Commission is conscious of the potential impact of its decision on Mr Gauci who may well have given entirely credible evidence notwithstanding an alleged interest in financial payment. On the other hand there are sound reasons to believe that the information in question would have been used by the defence as a means of challenging its credibility. Such a challenge may well have been justified, and in the Commission’s view was capable of affecting the course of the evidence and the eventual outcome of the trial.'” The book also reveals that several other witnesses had the possibility of reward money dangled before them: “Lamin [Fhimah’s – Megrahi’s co-accused, cleared at Camp Zeist] former business partner Vincent Vassalo whom Abdelbaset and Lamin had visited the evening before the bombing. He confirmed that it was his first meeting with Abdelbaset, who had introduced himself by his real name, rather than the one on his coded passport. He described Lamin’s shock on learning of the police investigation and his willingness to allow them to search the Medtours office and take his diary. Once the search was finished he said DCI [Harry] Bell [who was in charge of the police investigation in Malta] reminded him that a ‘big reward’ was on offer for any helpful information he could provide.”

LUCY ADAMS VERDICT: The fact that Tony Gauci, the Crown’s key witness who testified that he saw Megrahi buy specific clothes in his shop which were later identified as having been near the bomb, was even offered a reward raised the concerns of the SCCRC. It undermines his witness statements, which we now know were far more inconsistent and numerous than previously disclosed. The revelation that Bollier and others were offered the possibility of reward money also goes some way towards discrediting the integrity of the investigation itself.

5.Undisclosed evidence

CONTEXT: The SCCRC unearthed numerous statements, police reports and other documents which had never been shared with the defence team. Part of the reason the case was referred back for a fresh appeal was the non-disclosure of evidence. A fascinating part of the book talks about the James Bond-like tales of attempted coups, spying and double agents going on across the world. In particular, it makes reference to an attempted coup in Togo in which timers matching those thought to have been used in the Lockerbie bombing were discovered, and hints at subterfuge and espionage by the American security services and others and details the confusion caused. The prosecution had claimed that there were only 20 Mebo MST-13 timers and that they were sold only to the Libyans.

EXTRACT: “The Commission unearthed potentially significant information about the MST-13 timers found in West Africa. Two timers were recovered from Togo in 1986. Among the documents disclosed to the Commission was a previously confidential memo, produced by [Senior Investigating Officer] Stuart Henderson the month after the interview of Jean Baptiste Collin [the official in charge in Togo], which provided a lengthy overview of the investigation. As the following passage made clear, the West Africa investigations were causing considerable concern. [SIO Henderson wrote]: ‘After the recent interview of Collin, it is now more clear than ever that the circumstances surrounding the recovery of the ‘boxed MST-13 timer’ in Senegal must be clarified beyond doubt. The whole essence of the ‘MST-13 timers’ is the sole manufacture by the Mebo company in world terms and the explicit distribution to the Libyan ESO. Unless we can consolidate the precise number of MST-13 timers circuit boards manufactured to fit the ‘boxed timers’ and confirm the fact they were distributed, solely to the Libyans, then we have serious problems with our direct evidence. [Collin] inferred that the Americans knew the whole story… Crucially the notes [by DI William Williamson] went on to record that Collin said the timer had been given to an ‘intelligence agency’.” To date, at least two documents not disclosed to the defence still remain a secret because the UK Government claims publicising them would be a threat to national security. The book states: “The last of the Commission’s Statement of Reasons… was certainly the strangest of the six. It concerned two secret documents, supplied by another country, which members of the Commission’s team had been allowed to view at Dumfries police station in September 2006. They were forbidden from copying them. On 27 April 2007, the Crown Office confirmed to the Commission that they had carefully considered whether or not the documents required to be disclosed to the defence and had concluded they did not. The Statement of Reasons gave only two clues to the documents’ contents. The first was an extract from the Crown’s 27 April 2007 letter which read ‘it has never been the Crown’s position in this case that the MST-13 timers were not supplied by the Libyan intelligence services to any other party or that only Libyan intelligence services were in possession of the timers’. The second came in paragraph 25.6 of the Statement which read ‘In the Commission’s view the Crown’s decision not to disclose one of the documents to the defence indicates that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred.'”

LUCY ADAMS VERDICT: Since the trial at Zeist, Scots law has been challenged at the Supreme Court and the policy of non-disclosure has had to be changed. A number of appeals have been won on the grounds that important evidence was not shared with defence lawyers. We now know that numerous documents were not disclosed to the Lockerbie defence team. Some were sent to them after the second appeal was dropped. Others may never be shared. Advocates in the past have described the unfairness of partial disclosure as “playing with a stacked deck”. This alone could have seen Megrahi acquitted if his appeal had proceeded.

6. Forensics anomalies

CONTEXT The forensics case against Megrahi was critical. The book reveals anomalies, contradictions, and arguments between police, the forensics team, the CIA, and the FBI. It also claims that information was withheld by the CIA and says anomalies later found in the forensic evidence from the Ministry of Defence Royal Armaments Research and Development Establishment “cast doubt on the overall reliability” of some of the forensic reports.

EXTRACT: “Six years after [Dr Thomas] Hayes [of RARDE] testified, a previously secret police memo came to light that contradicted his evidence and stated that a residue test had, in fact, been conducted…Most of the contradictory accounts about how PT/35b was linked to the MST-13 timer were only revealed seven years later, when the Crown’s precognition statements of Feraday, Williamson, Thurman and Orkin were released by the SCCRC. Had the defence known about them at trial, they would have provided the basis for vigorous cross-examinations of the relevant witnesses…

“Viewed in isolation, the individual anomalies surrounding the fragment may have appeared trivial, but together they formed a shroud of suspicion that could not be dislodged. Had they concerned a less important item, they could, perhaps, have been overlooked, but the fragment was easily the most crucial physical evidence in the entire case – the golden thread that linked Abdelbaset to the bomb.”

Other items were not contained within the forensic reports – including a small piece of circuit board from the radio cassette bomb found in Dalkamoni’s [of the Palestinian PFLPC-GC] car in Germany – something the defence team only learned about years later. The book states: “Whatever lay behind the multiple anomalies, inconsistencies, and omissions, their cumulative effect was to erode the façade of forensic certainty that surrounded the Crown case.”

There were other pieces of forensic information not disclosed by the Crown which pointed – again – at the potential involvement of the PFLPC-GC. “Further important forensic information was contained in a Crown precognition statement by Hayes’s RARDE colleague Allen Feraday. He revealed that he had been unable to rule out one of the debris items, PI/1588, as being part of a barometric trigger. Given that the PFLP-GC bombs found in Neuss [in the German raid on the PFLPC-GC] were barometric, this was potentially significant.”

LUCY ADAMS VERDICT This is one of the densest and most complex sections of the book. The details of different dates, reports, and contradictions is confusing but the overall impression is that the scientists and forensics experts involved were working under enormous pressure in very difficult circumstances. There is a sense that the American security services often failed to disclose or delayed disclosure of information to the Scottish police investigating. The overall picture is that non-disclosure of certain forensic information at the trial and the inconsistencies in the forensic reports subsequently seen by the defence team, raise serious questions about aspects of the prosecution’s forensic case.

7. The Bedford suitcase

CONTEXT: Ascertaining which suitcase contained the bomb was critical in the initial stages of the police investigation and subsequent forensic work. Much of the investigation focused on where the suitcase was “ingested” – whether it was through the airport at Malta, Frankfurt or Heathrow. Who put it on to the plane and how? According to the Crown, forensic analysis of the fuselage indicated the suitcase containing the bomb was in the second layer of suitcases – indicating it had come from a feeder flight, rather than Heathrow. However, the book reveals that Tony Kelly’s review of the evidence focused on a brown hard-sided suitcase seen by baggage loader John Bedford before the Frankfurt feeder flight arrived. At trial, the judges described Bedford as a “clear and impressive witness” but said there were many items of luggage not dealt with in detail in the evidence of the case.

EXTRACT: “Kelly’s team uncovered evidence that, had it been heard at trial, might have denied the judges these get-outs. If the Bedford bag were not the primary suitcase then, since he [Bedford] saw it before the arrival of PA103A [from Frankfurt], it must have been legitimate. By checking the surviving bags and descriptions provided by the victims’ relatives, [Detective Constable Derek] Henderson established the colour and type of all the legitimate Heathrow interline bags. None were brown, hard-sided suitcases…which meant it was almost certainly the primary case.” That information from DC Henderson was not in the list of productions for the original trial. The book states: “Abdelbaset’s draft grounds of appeal claimed that the absence of the Henderson schedules from the trial constituted a ‘material irregularity’…’that material evidence supporting the defence was not properly presented and the appellant was denied a fair trial’.”

LUCY ADAMS VERDICT Subsequent to the trial and appeal, evidence emerged of a break-in at Heathrow the night before the bombing. Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the tragedy, has consistently drawn attention to this break-in and campaigned for a full inquiry into what happened. The Crown case was, in part, based on the assertion that Megrahi and Lamin Fhimah, his co-accused, ensured the primary suitcase containing the bomb was on the feeder flight from Malta. The fact the break-in at Heathrow the night before the tragedy only came to light after the trial seems shocking. The fact that UK Governments have refused since 1988 to hold a full public inquiry into the case, even more so.

8.  Why Megrahi used a coded passport when in Malta

CONTEXT: At the trial, the original appeal and indeed in a press release last week, the Crown has always made much of Megrahi’s use in Malta of a false passport under the name Abdusamad.

EXTRACT: “My numerous absences created difficulties at home. Like most Libyan marriages at the time ours was very traditional… she was understandably unhappy about my frequent foreign trips, and would often become upset on learning that one was imminent. I therefore fell into the habit, on shorter trips, of telling her I was visiting people elsewhere in Libya…The Libyan Government had by then introduced a policy of issuing those involved in the importation of embargoed goods with so-called coded passports which concealed their real names and their connections to state bodies. These passports were in no sense forgeries, but were rather official documents issued by the Secretary of Transport and tightly regulated. A further advantage was that it enabled me to leave my normal passport at home, which made it easier to travel abroad without Aisha knowing.”

LUCY ADAMS VERDICT: Chapter 2 of the book, entitled Before the Nightmare, explains Megrahi’s work importing embargoed cars, soap and cigarettes lighters, and aviation parts. Much of the chapter is in the first person, explaining in detail his course in marine engineering at Cardiff, his first job as a flight dispatcher for Libyan Arab Airlines and his subsequent promotion to controller of operations at Tripoli Airport. It provides a fascinating insight into his life before the indictment but I found it difficult to understand some of his justifications for lying to his wife as he suggest above. It might seem easier to believe if he said he had been having an affair. However, it may be difficult to understand because it is hard to relate to what it must have been like to live in a country under such strict trade sanctions as Libya had at the time.

These extracts are all taken from Megrahi: You Are My Jury by John Ashton, published by Birlinn.

Comments (32)

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  1. John Souter says:

    Sad, and personally disappointed, that the SNP should blot their record in this issue by playing politics rather than plying truth.

    Independence must be based on open and accountable governance supported by an honest and competent legal framework that places justice above law or statute and refuses convenience.

    I can only speculate as to the MacAskill’s purpose and reasoning and, was hoping an independent Scotland would see a significant step towards a society free of inner temples, hegemonies and self serving protectionist carpet baggers.

    It would seem not and, ‘independence’ like ‘democracy’ is just another sham euphemism
    styled to suit politics.

    People will decide for themselves but, for me, when considered with the other shenanigans in Scottish justice of late, there’s a need for the broom to sweep clean, not under the table.

    1. Indy says:

      It is interesting that you automatically believe the Libyan Government version of matters rather than the Scottish Government version. Because they flatly contradict each other. The Scottish Government has published the minutes of the meeting referred to. The Libyan Government hasn’t.

      Why is it I wonder that you are so quick to believe that Scottish ministers and Scottish officials are lying – because let’s be clear that is what you are accusing them of. You are accusing the Scottish Justice Secretary of lying and his officials of concocting a false record of the meeting.

      All on the basis of what a dying man told a journalist he was told happened by someone else who has not been interviewed by said journalist.

      Bit of a leap don’t you think?

      1. vronsky says:

        “they flatly contradict each other”
        .
        Indeed, but what matters is that the Scottish government version flatly contradicts the evidence, and that’s the worrying thing.

      2. John Souter says:

        Indy – I certainly do not believe the Libyan Government. And in regard to that -what government?

        My position is not that MacAskill coerced Magrahi with the offer of compassionate release. After all it may have been the most pragmatic course available to ensure the release.
        But having done so, the Scottish government has systematically frustrated the release of the SCCRs findings, continued to support the verdict of the Scottish law establishment and refused a further appeal or re-trial in the light of new evidence when the previous appeal(s) were restricted in scope.

        Having read the findings of both the trial and appeals I found them seriously flawed, heavily circumstantial and seriously lacking in a logical and critical path.

        To the extent, had similar evidence been presented before a jury, I doubt if it would have sufficient weight to warrant a verdict based on an ASBO.

        I stand by my comment of the Scottish Government backing politics and establishment over open governance.

        Where now stands the peoples sovereignty in independence?

    2. FrankyB says:

      I think you jump as speedily to your own conclusions as did the show trial. You speak open and accountable governance but failt to show the restraint that is required in such a place.

      Pity.

  2. vronsky says:

    On the face of the it the SNP had a great deal to gain politically by revealing the murky details of Megrahi’s frame-up. It is therefore all the more perplexing that they have sat on their hands, Salmond even declaring that he considered the verdict ‘safe’ when all the pointers were in the other direction. Some external coercion or inducement is clearly being applied here. I agree with John Souter – it appears that we cannot assume that independence is sufficient to remove us from the clutches of the Atlanticists and their vicious agenda. At the very least, MacAskill’s head should roll for this, and even then I wouldn’t be commfortable.

    1. Ian Hamilton says:

      I have always regarded the Megrahi case as the great shame and blot on Scottish justice and on the SNP government. I am a member of the Justice for Megrahi group.

      I look forward to reading this long awaited book and wish this innocent man well in the hope this message may reach him.

      Ian Hamilton QC

  3. vronsky says:

    Golly – only three replies, on a site which wants to do a spot of worrying about a new constitution. And here was me thinking I could not possibly be more depressed.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      i can understand why many in the SNP would rather say nothing at this stage as these revelations suggest that if Megrahi is telling the truth Kenny McAskill has some explaining to do. So who do we believe?

      1. vronsky says:

        Who to believe? There’s no need to take anybody’s word for anything – there is all this awkward stuff called evidence, which is what Ashton’s book is about. MacAskill and Megrahi cannot both be telling the truth (although they could both be lying) and so far as I can see the balance of probabilities is that it’s MacAskill who’s fibbing. If he wants us to convince us otherwise all he need do is release the SCCRC report – weren’t we promised that? But a lie from a cabinet minister is a collective thing – this is the government lying, and on a very serious matter. To say the least, I’m concerned.

      2. vronsky

        MacAskill and Megrahi cannot both be telling the truth

        You are forgetting the author who has a book to sell. Don’t forget the USA and UK were interested in his release as was shown by wikileaks and who have an awful lot to lose if the whole truth over Lockerbie eventually comes out.

      3. Indy says:

        Megrahi is reporting what he was told by Libyan officials. Have the Libyan officials been interviewed? Is there a single person interviewed in the book who has said I was present when Kenny MacAskill said X, Y or Z? Or is it all second hand?

        The irony of people being willing to condemn Kenny MacAskill on such flimsy evidence is huge of course.

  4. Albalha says:

    Ashton’s first book detailing much of this was published over 10 years ago and we’ve had deafening silence since. Don’t see how the SNP can come out of this very well why not just allow the Scottish review panel report to be made public, what’s the hold up? Maybe they’re waiting until Al Megrahi dies, all very tawdry and shady.

  5. Aangirfan says:

    The SNP voted for the ‘no fly zone’ over Libya, which has allowed the CIA’s al Qaeda to wreck Libya. The SNP appears to be part of the ‘cover up’ over Lockerbie. The SNP appears to be part of the ‘cover-up’ over Hollie Greig. Looks like Scotland could be the new Kosovo. Which SNP politician is Hashim Thaci?

  6. Indy says:

    Vronsky says .”Indeed, but what matters is that the Scottish government version flatly contradicts the evidence, and that’s the worrying thing.”
    What evidence? The passage in the book in question suggests that Libyan officials met with Kenny MacAskill to discuss the application for a prison transfer under the Prisoner Transfer Agreement negotiated by the UK Government. That is not in dispute and there is a record of the meeting which the SG made public a number of years ago. The book says that Megrahi was later told by Libyan officials that at this meeting Kenny MacAskill took the senior Libyan official to one side and said it would be easier for him to grant compassionate release if Megrahi dropped his appeal. Kenny MacAskill flatly denies this.
    You say however that the evidence is against this? What evidence are you referring to? Because the only evidence in the book comes from an interview with Megrahi in which he says that Libyan officials told him this. No Libyan officials were interviewed. There is no first hand evidence at all. The fact that the media are reporting it as though Megrahi was claiming that MacAskill personally advised him to drop his appeal simply reflects the standard of reporting that exists. In fact Megrahi said no such thing – he simply repeated what he himself was told by someone else.
    On the other hand you have Kenny MacAskill stating that he did not suggest to anyone at any point that Megrahi dropping his appeal would assist his application for compassionate release. Quite the reverse, he always made it very clear that the two applications – one for compassionate release, one for a transfer under the PTA – were separate. And as we know the application for a prisoner transfer was rejected.

  7. redcliffe62 says:

    Media stating MacAskill said it to Megrahi are wrong and need to be pulled up on that. I am sure things were said but I know not what they were. Coem out firing and state the only reason full story cannot be told is London is scared to release the true facts.

  8. bellacaledonia says:

    The substantive part of the book is the documented proof that Megrahi’s defence team were denied access to information and evidence that would probably have cleared him. We dont know for certain either way what was said over the appeal being dropped, but surely its not Kenny MacAskill who should be on trial here but the people who fabricated evidence, bribed witnesses, and withheld evidence in the Netherlands.

    KW

  9. bellacaledonia says:

    More revelations revealed at Scottish Review today.

    http://www.scottishreview.net/JohnAshton236.shtml

  10. Indy says:

    Surely the Scottish Government is legislating to allow the SCCRs report to be published? This is what SG press release said:

    “The Bill puts in place a framework that will enable, as far as possible within devolved competence, the disclosure of information by the SCCRC in cases where an appeal has been abandoned or has fallen.

    “This government continues to do all we can to achieve publication of the Statement of Reasons in the Al-Megrahi case, while of course we cannot legislate on reserved matters. That is why I have today written to the UK Government asking that they set aside data protection legislation freeing the Commission from this obstacle in deciding whether they will publish information.

    “We believe there is a compelling and genuine public interest justification for making an exception to data protection legislation in this case and that such an exception would not set a wider precedent.

    “The Scottish Government does not doubt the safety of the conviction of Mr Al-Megrahi. Nevertheless we recognise that others have concerns regarding the wider issues relating to the atrocity and given the massive public interest in the case I believe it is right that the Commission’s Statement of Reasons is released. The Bill will now be properly scrutinised through the full primary legislation parliamentary process.”

    I appreciate that people may well want the SG to say we don’t agree with the verdict in the Megrahi case but they simply cannot do that. They would be challenging the authority of the courts and that would bring down all kinds of merry hell – look at the reaction to Alex Salmond’s comments on the Supreme Court. Can you imagine for one second what the reaction would be if a Justice Secretary took it on himself to start challenging decisions of courts?

  11. Observer says:

    The Scottish government can’t just come along & say that the Lockerbie verdict was wrong. Alex Salmond & Kenny MacAskill are not individuals in this regard they are Ministers. That is why I personally do not believe that MacAskill is lying – it would have suited him for the appeal to go ahead as that could have continued posthumously & would have eneabled the Lockerbie verdict to be overturned in the correct way – by the courts.

    That would have been an embarrassment for the Scottish justuce system but it is less embarrassing than this because anyone who has followed this case knows that Megrahi is a patsy & the Lockerbie trial was a sham.

  12. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    The only parties that would have been embarrassed by an appeal(or a public inquiry into the Lockerbie trial) were the US Government., the UK Government and the Libyan Government.
    They all have very strong reasons for no appeal to go forward so whatever the reason was for the cancellation of the appeat one or all of these parties are likely to be the major factor in that decision.

  13. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Aangirfan
    PS There is no cover up over Holly Greig. I thought this completely demented campaign had been consigned to the dustbin where it belongs

  14. Tomato says:

    The recent BBC half-hour program said nothing new, nothing that wasn’t known from Paul Foot’s aged Private Eye report, neither did the hour long A-Jazeera program which followed the BBC one and was just the same film padded out with some pictures of Border roads. Foot’s report stated the timer fragment was found in the Kielder Forest, Northumberland, so far from Lockerbie as to be less than credible, though perversly the ludicrous location it was allegedly found in strengthens its authenticity, it could just as easily have been dropped and found much nearer Lockerbie. It’s more likely wherever the fragment of cloth was found, the fragment of circuit board was ‘found’ in the lab examining it, later, whether that was in the UK or US, is unclear, the chain of evidence is shattered. In any case the actual plastic backing of the PCB fragment is a different colour allegedly, a prototype rather than a production version, more likely to have originated from the East German Stasi than those supplied later to Libya. So the fragment could be a plant and a deliberate incriminating red-herring, pointing the finger anywhere the authorities chose to investigate.

    While arguing about the colour of the non-shirt from Malta – Beige or Grey – we forget to ask was there ever a shirt at all? Likewise the constituents of the solder are questioned, when the question should be was the fragment of circuit board, smaller than a childs fingernail and only seen greatly magnified, ever there, was there any bomb ever on the plane at all.

    The plane was delayed hugely, the timer, without an altitudinal component would have triggered while it was still on the ground, using a timer alone.

    Or was the plane shot down from a sub or surface ship, as it crossed the Solway Firth, hugging the coast, or a missile from our own Area-51 ‘defence establishment’ surrounding Chapelcross.

    There is no conceiveable reason for the SCCRC to hold the appeal documents from public view, when it is clear the pn
    oly other party, than the victims families, Mr. Megrahi wishes them released.

    The truth, however unpalatable must be told and if the US brought down their own plane, there were reasons aplenty to do so, it should be proclaimed, the most likely prime culprits and conspirators being being Oliver North and George H.W. Bush.

    1. Indy says:

      See people ,make sweeping statements like the families are happy for all the evidence that the SCCRC holds to be released to the public.

      You know that for a fact do you? You know that every single family of every single victim has signed a data protection disclaimer?

  15. tomato says:

    Some people don’t read what they’ve read and jump off on the attack. Where does the above say anything whatever about the families view of the matter. Happy or elated. Quoting the above with the silly typo corrected, which doesn’t affect the meaning in any way: “when it is clear the only other party, than the victims families, Mr. Megrahi wishes them released.” I specifically excluded the victims families, though more than anyone they would in all probability like to know the truth.
    Explain yourself Indy, you’re frothing at the mouth over mole-hill of your own making. Stop making things up.

    The law is blind, the families in that case should rightly have no input other than evidential, not emotion and misdirected vengeance. Innoncence is presumed.

    1. Indy says:

      Sorry I misread that – thought you were saying that the families had given consent.
      Admit I didn’t know much about it. However although I was wrong so are you because the SG passed an order in 2009 to allow the Commission to release the details and the Commission refused because they could not get consent.

      Five minutes research has given me this:

      In general, any information obtained by the Commission may not be disclosed, and it is an offence under section 194J of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 (“the 1995 Act”) to do so. Exceptions from obligations of non-disclosure of information held by the Commission are included at section 194K of the 1995 Act. They provide that information may be disclosed for, amongst other things, the purposes of any criminal or civil proceedings. The Scottish Ministers also have, by virtue of section 194K(1)(f) of the 1995 Act, an order-making power to set out circumstances in which the normal non-disclosure rules that the Commission are subject to may be disapplied. This power has been used, with the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (Permitted Disclosure of Information) Order 2009 (“the 2009 Order”) specifying additional circumstances in which the Commission may disclose information, or authorise the disclosure of information, without committing an offence in terms of section 194J(3) of the 1995 Act.
      Given the wider public interest issues raised in the case of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi who was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing in 2001, the Scottish Government used the order-making power in the 1995 Act to make the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (Permitted Disclosure of Information) Order 2009. This provided a mechanism for the Commission to work towards considering releasing information in the al-Megrahi case. However, on 9 December 2010, the Commission issued a news release explaining that it had been unable to obtain the relevant consent from all those who provided information contained in the statement of reasons and as such, was unable to publish it.

      The Bill provides that, in circumstances where an appeal against conviction has been abandoned or has otherwise fallen following a Commission referral, the Commission may disclose information relating to the case where they determine that it is appropriate to do so. Essentially, the difference between the 2009 Order and the statutory framework set out in the Bill is that whereas consent of those who provided information is required in terms of the 2009 Order, the Bill, in general, does not require consent to be obtained and instead it is for the Commission to decide whether it is appropriate to disclose information.

      The Commission has intimated to the Scottish Government that reserved data protection legislation will be a significant obstacle to the disclosure of information as provided for in the Bill. To that end, the Scottish Government has been in correspondence with the UK Government with a view to having the relevant data protection provisions disapplied.
      So to sum up the SG passed an order in 2009 to allow the information to be made public. The Commission said they could not make it public because did not have consent of all parties. SG now passing further legislation and also asking Westminster to lift reservation on data protection.

      So it is clear that in fact there is a conceiveable reason for the SCCRC to withhold the information. The SG actually passed an order to allow them to release it but they did not do so as they could not obtain consent of all parties.

      What is interesting to me is that the difference between the 2009 Order and the statutory framework set out in the Bill is that whereas consent of those who provided information is required in terms of the 2009 Order, the Bill does not require consent to be obtained and instead it is for the Commission to decide whether it is appropriate to disclose information.

      I can see that ending up in the Supreme Court.

  16. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    One of the still unanswered questions is why were the US officials taken off that flight.
    The answer to that question would be devastating I am absolutely certain.

  17. Indy says:

    Interesting answer from Kenny MacAskill there, Tomato – Megrahi has not in fact consented to release of information about him held by SCCRC.

  18. Rob Royston says:

    Every day of my adult life I have wished for independence for our nation. Now in the year I will receive my pension I am beginning to have doubts about the wisdom of following leaders who are obviously not openly fearless in the pursuit of truth. Like others above I have to ask myself why a free Scotland will be under the Atlanticist yoke.

  19. “Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill has revealed that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi had given a written undertaking to drop his appeal against conviction for the Lockerbie bombing months before both men met in Greenock Prison.

    The provisional undertaking was signed by the Libyan prior to his application for compassionate release but at a time when he was aware that any outstanding appeal would have prevented his return to Libya via the Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA).”

    These records are made by impartial civil servants to ensure that there is a proper historic record of important discussions.” he said.

    “In addition to the minute kept, presiding officer, let me be quite clear. Scottish Government officials were present throughout my meeting with Mr Al-Obeidi.

    “At no time did I or any other member of the Scottish Government suggest to Mr Al-Obeidi, to anyone connected to the Libyan Government or indeed to Mr al-Megrahi himself that abandoning his appeal against conviction would in any way aid or affect the application for compassionate release.”

    The Justice Secretary told the chamber that compassionate release did not require the dropping of an appeal unlike the PTA. It is already known that Megrahi’s legal team advised their client that an appeal was not a barrier to compassionate release.

    However he reminded the chamber that data protection legislation, which was reserved to Westminster, was a key barrier to disclosure and revealed that he had already written on three occasions to UK Justice Minister Ken Clark urging a review of the situation and had written a fourth letter that same day urging for an exception to be made to allow publication in what he described as “this unique case”.

    “Let no-one be in any doubt” said a determined looking Mr MacAskill “We want the statement of reasons to be published …”

    Mr MacAskill then made an unexpected announcement when he confirmed that a route allowing the appeal to be revived existed.

    “It would involve an application being made for a further reference by the SCCRC, the commission deciding to make a reference and for the High Court to accept such a reference.”

    He added: “That is a matter I would be entirely comfortable with”.

    So a bit of balance making clear what McAskill actually said and did rather than ‘cover up’ allegations above. It is up to the SCCRC to decide what information they release or to consider applying for a review by the High Court of the case, both of which McAskill is happy to support.

    It doesn’t matter what McAskill actually thinks about the Megrahi judgement, until a finding of a mistrial is declared, he has to uphold what remains an independent legal judgment in this case.

  20. David Howard says:

    The selective use of polygraphs by corrupt FBI officials must stop! No one is above the law, including FBI Director Robert Mueller, who conspired to cover up the Pan Am Flight 103 incident. Google “Quadri-Track ZCT”

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