Cabinet Secretary for Justice given 30 days to respond to allegations
Members of the Justice Committee at Holyrood will today decide whether a petition calling for an inquiry into the conviction of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi will remain open.
The petition, submitted by campaigning group Justice for Megrahi, was first considered by the group of MSPs in November last year when members agreed, by six to three, to look at it once again at a later date.
Megrahi, who was released from Greenock Prison in 2009 on compassionate grounds following a prolonged battle with prostate cancer, died in May this year, fuelling fresh calls for an inquiry into his conviction 23 years on from the attack.
The Justice for Megrahi group has revealed it sent a letter, lodging serious formal allegations relating to the conduct of the Lockerbie investigation and the subsequent Kamp van Zeist trial, to Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill, earlier this month, albeit refused to disclose details.
“Out of respect to Mr MacAskill, JFM does not propose to go public with the text of the letter or to divulge detail concerning the precise nature of the allegations for a period of thirty days from 13 September, in order to allow Secretary MacAskill sufficient latitude to respond. The manner in which the allegations are dealt with could have a direct bearing on PE1370 [petition],” said a written submission provided by the petitioners ahead of an appearance before the Scottish Parliament committee this morning.
A Scottish Government spokesman confirmed to Holyrood MacAskill’s office had received the letter in question and aimed to respond within the 30-day deadline.
According to the campaigning group, recent events south of the Border meant an independent judicial inquiry into the investigation of Lockerbie, the subsequent legal proceedings and the conviction of Megrahi were now all the more pressing.
The submission reads: “The outcome of the Hillsborough enquiry has undoubtedly shone a light on the inner workings of a justice system that purported to keep its citizens safe and secure. Now we can see that protection of the system and the wrongdoers within it took precedence over protection of the individual citizen. Indeed efforts were made to transfer blame to innocent third parties.
“If Hillsborough was England’s shame then Lockerbie is Scotland’s, and much of the indifference and arrogance identified within the former can be identified in the latter. We applaud the open minded approach of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, and hope to see a similar scrutiny of the Lockerbie investigation, without fear or favour.”