“The Lockerbie trial is “the most disgraceful miscarriage of justice in Scotland for 100 years. Every lawyer who has read the judgment says ‘this is nonsense’. It is nonsense.”
Robert Black QC FRSE –Professor Emeritus of Scots Law in the University of Edinburgh and best known as the “Architect of the Lockerbie Trial”
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission confirmed today (Tuesday July 4 2017) that it has received a new application to review the conviction in the case of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
INTEL TODAY — I regard the Lockerbie verdict against Megrahi as a “Grand Monument to Human Stupidity”. Indeed, the written opinion of the Lockerbie judges is a remarkable document that claims an “honoured place in the history of British miscarriages of justice.” If the Commission accepts the application for a full review, the infamous Zeist verdict doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving.
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What follows is the text of a press release issued today by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission:
Mr Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of the murder of the 259 passengers and crew on board Pan American World Airways flight PA 103 from London to New York, and 11 residents of Lockerbie on 21 December 1988. He subsequently appealed his conviction and his first appeal was refused by the High Court in 2002.
Mr Megrahi then applied to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission for a review of his conviction in 2003, and, after a full review, his case was referred by the Commission to the High Court for a new appeal in 2007. Mr Megrahi subsequently abandoned that appeal in 2009. He was released from prison on compassionate grounds shortly thereafter. Mr Megrahi died from cancer in 2012.
The Commission received a further application in June 2014, which was made on Mr Megrahi’s behalf. The Commission rejected this application in 2015, concluding that it was not in the interests of justice at that time to proceed with the review. The reasons for this were detailed in our press releases issued on 5 and 6 November 2015 (currently available on our website).
The main reason however was that despite various requests having been made of the Megrahi family, and of the late Mr Megrahi’s previous solicitors, Taylor & Kelly, for access to materials relating to the 2007-2009 appeal, these had not been forthcoming.
In rejecting the application in 2015 the Commission made it clear that it remained open in the future for the matter to be considered again by the SCCRC, but that it was unlikely that any future application would be accepted for a review unless it was accompanied by the original appeal materials to be sourced directly from Mr Megrahi`s solicitors.
Gerard Sinclair, the Chief Executive of the SCCRC, said today:
As it does in every case the Commission will now give careful consideration to this new application. In particular, we will immediately be looking to see that this fresh application fully addresses the matters which we identified as missing from the application in 2015, and in particular provides access to the original appeal papers from Mr Megrahi`s solicitors.
If the Commission accepts the application for a full review there are several important considerations which will affect the timescale within which we will be able to deal with this matter, including any new lines of enquiry and the fact that the membership of the Board has completely changed since the original referral in 2007.
The Commission does not intend to make any further comment at this time.
Notes for Editors
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission was established as an independent body on 1 April 1999 to review alleged miscarriages of justice in Scottish convictions and/or sentences. Under section 194A-L of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, as inserted by section 25 of the Crime and Punishment (Scotland) Act 1997, the Commission may refer a case to the High Court if it believes that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred and that it is in the interests of justice that a reference should be made. Once the Commission refers a case to the High Court, the case will proceed as a normal appeal.
Where a convicted person has died, court rules allow the High Court to consider an appeal where it considers the person taking the appeal has “legitimate interests” in the case. The determination of whether a person has a “legitimate interest” is a decision for the High Court to make.
For any further general information about the Commission, please contact Chris Reddick, Director of Corporate Services, SCCRC, 5th Floor, Portland House, 17 Renfield Street, Glasgow; telephone: 0141 270 7030; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Commission’s website at www.sccrc.org.uk
About the appeal and the SCCRC
On April 24 2017, Professor Robert Black (QC FRSE) sent me his personal view on this matter which I reproduce here with his kind permission.
[Professor Robert Black has taken a close personal and professional interest in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing of 21 December 1988, particularly because he was born and brought up in Lockerbie, Scotland. He has published a substantial number of articles on the topic in the United Kingdom and overseas. Black is often referred to as the architect of holding the non-jury Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial at the neutral venue of Camp Zeist, Netherlands, and applying Scots Law to the Lockerbie case. Wikipedia]
I am optimistic about the outcome of the Megrahi family’s forthcoming application to the SCCRC. In June 2007 the SCCRC decided, on six grounds, that there might have been a miscarriage of justice. Since then even more evidence has come to light casting doubt on the verdict (not least Dr Morag Kerr’s masterly analysis of the bomb-damaged luggage, which demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that the bomb suitcase was ingested at Heathrow, not Luqa in Malta).
My only slight worry is how the SCCRC will apply the “interests of justice” requirement (ie not only must the Commission be satisfied that there might have been a miscarriage of justice, it must also be satisfied that it is in the interests of justice for there to be a fresh appeal).
It is possible to envisage the SCCRC saying that there have already been two appeals (the first of which Megrahi lost and the second of which he abandoned) and that it is not in the interests of justice for there to be a third bite at the cherry. I am reasonably optimistic that the Commission will not adopt this approach — the Megrahi conviction still casts a dark shadow over the Scottish criminal justice system and is far from being generally accepted as just by the public in Scotland and elsewhere.
I would expect the SCCRC to take the view that it is in the interests of justice in Scotland that an appeal take place that can remove this dark shadow, one way or the other.
Best wishes. Robert
Reaction from Christine Grahame MSP
SNP MSP Christine Grahame has welcomed the news that the family of Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi have lodged a fresh application to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) in pursuit of a further appeal against his conviction for the Lockerbie Bombing in 1988.
The disaster, which saw Pan Am Flight 103 destined for New York explode above the Scottish town on 21 December 1988, killed 270 people and is considered the most destructive act of terror in Scottish history.
Grahame, who met with the late Mr Megrahi three times whilst he was in prison in Greenock, and has long campaigned against the conviction, said:
“I am pleased that Mr Megrahi’s family has decided pursue an appeal against his conviction. I believe Mr Megrahi was wrongly convicted and that he abandoned his own appeal in desperation to return home before he died”
“I provided a statement for this application to the family’s solicitor Aamer Anwar and I sincerely hope the SCCRC remit the case to the High Court for a further appeal when all the evidence can be heard at last.
“I know how important it was for Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi to have his family’s name cleared. He told me on my final visit to him that he did not want the family name to go down in history as the Lockerbie bomber.
“It is also important for the victims’ families to learn the truth at last.”
Lockerbie bomber’s family lodge new appeal against conviction
Footage of Dr Jim Swire and Rev John Mosey, who both lost family members in the Lockerbie bombing, arriving at the SCCRC office in Glasgow.
Dr Jim Swire on the death of Megrahi
Jim Swire, is an English doctor best known for his involvement in the aftermath of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, in which his daughter Flora was killed. Swire lobbied toward a solution for the difficulties in bringing suspects in the original bombing to trial, and later advocated for the retrial and release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. Swire also carried a fake bomb onto an aircraft as a demonstration of lax security. [Wikipedia]
THE LOCKERBIE TRIAL by RT. HON COLIN BOYD QC, LORD ADVOCATE, SCOTLAND
SCOTBOM: Evidence and the Lockerbie Investigation by Richard A. Marquise
Megrahi: You Are My Jury: The Lockerbie Evidence by John Ashton
For those interested in the Lockerbie Trial tragedy, I recommend the excellent blog of Professor Black: TheLockerbieCase. Those who want to study the forensic history of PT/35(b) will find many resources and original documents on the PT35B blog. Also, you may want to check the blog of Dr Jim Swire and Peter Biddulph: The LockerbieTruth.
LOCKERBIE — SCCRC press release on Megrahi application