Christine Grahame

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Person.png Christine Grahame   WebsiteRdf-icon.png
(politician)
Christine Grahame.jpg
BornChristine Grahame
9 September 1944
Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh
Member ofJustice for Megrahi
PartyScottish National Party

Christine Grahame is a Scottish National Party (SNP) politician. She is the Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale constituency having previously been MSP for the South of Scotland region, first elected in the 1999 election and re-elected in 2003, 2007 and 2011.

In October 2009, Christine Grahame MSP claimed in a television debate with Paul McBride QC that the chain of evidence in relation to the PT-35 timer fragment in the Lockerbie case was broken:[1]

"The associated evidence log that was meant to accompany PT-35 mysteriously does not record that the fragment went to the US or Germany, even though the Crown Office has confirmed in writing that it definitely went to Germany," she said.[2]

Christine Grahame was appointed Convener of the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee following the SNP's victory in the 2011 election. Justice for Megrahi's e-petition PE1370, which calls on the Scottish Parliament "to urge the Scottish Government to open an independent inquiry into the 2001 Kamp van Zeist conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988", is currently under consideration by the Justice Committee.[3]

Early life

Christine Grahame was born on 9 September 1944 in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England and brought up in Edinburgh. She attended the University of Edinburgh and, after graduating, worked as a teacher. She later returned to Edinburgh University as a mature student where she earned a law degree, and afterwards she practised as a solicitor.

Political career

Christine Grahame joined the Scottish National Party (SNP) in 1970.

Using her married name, Christine Creech, she was the SNP candidate at the 1992 General Election for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale. In 1994 she stood for election to the European Parliament, again unsuccessfully.

At the 1999 Scottish Parliament election she fought Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale again. Although she finished second, her position on the SNP regional list took her to the Scottish Parliament (Holyrood), after which she divorced and reverted to her maiden name. She contested Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale at both the 2003 and 2007 elections, coming within 1,000 votes of victory on both occasions.

In 2004, Christine Grahame ran as a candidate for Deputy Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) after the resignation of Leader John Swinney propelled Deputy Leader Roseanna Cunningham into the contest to replace him.

After the election she was reshuffled from chair of the Scottish Parliament's Health committee to Shadow Minister for Social Justice, generally seen by media commentators as an upwards shift. In June 2005, she was elected Honorary President of the Federation of Student Nationalists.

In 2009, she took up the cause of a National Library of Scotland employee, who had been admonished for placing what NLS management called an "excessive display" of several large saltire and Lion Rampant flags around his workstation[4] calling it "a deliberate assault on our national flag."[5]

In the 2011 Scottish Parliamentary election, Grahame won the redrawn seat of Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, beating former Liberal Democrat finance spokesman Jeremy Purvis.

Prison visitor

In May 2009, Christine Grahame visited the man convicted over the Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, in Greenock jail. After her visit, she told the press:

"I found it quite upsetting. The man is obviously very ill and he is desperate to see his family - absolutely desperate to see his family - so, whatever it takes, that's the priority. He did tell me things I can't discuss with you. But I am absolutely more convinced than ever that there has been a miscarriage of justice."[6]

A month later, Grahame arranged a second meeting with the prisoner, Megrahi.[7]

A few days after the dropping of Megrahi's appeal against conviction and his release on compassionate grounds on 20 August 2009, Grahame wrote an op-ed article for The Independent saying she is convinced of his innocence:

"He is not a saint, of course – he had a history with Libyan intelligence – but his hands are clean over Lockerbie. For you should recall that five months before the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on that dark, wild December night just before Christmas in 1988, an American military cruiser, the "Vincennes", shot down an Iranian passenger plane carrying 290 pilgrims. No one has been charged, let alone prosecuted, over that, even though it was all captured on film."[8]

Lockerbie evidence "unsafe"

According to a 20 October 2009 press release from Christine Grahame MSP, the key piece of Lockerbie evidence (timer fragment PT-35) was "unsafe":

Scottish police investigators did not make the key piece of evidential material used to convict Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, secure an SNP MSP has claimed. Christine Grahame MSP has said the Crown Office has now confirmed to her that the fragment was taken to Germany and then to the US by Scottish investigating officers without the knowledge of the Defence team and more crucially the then Lord Advocate, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, the senior prosecutor at the time of the investigation.
In an interview for Dutch TV's "Lockerbie Revisited", yet to be shown on UK television, Lord Fraser was asked if the fragment, known as PT-35 (alleged to be part of the bomb’s timer) had always remained in the UK. Lord Fraser responded:
"As far as I’m aware it’s always been in the UK."
Asked if it had ever been to the United States, Lord Fraser responds:
"Not that I’m aware of," adding that he would have known if it had left the UK, telling Dutch reporters: "What would have gone through my mind is, I’m not accusing the FBI or anything… [but] could this evidence get lost, or damaged or tampered with? No, no I would want to keep everything so that there can be no accusations at a trial that in some way [the fragment] has been fiddled with."
Now SNP MSP Christine Grahame has confirmed that the same fragment also went to Germany two months before being sent across the Atlantic to Washington without, it seems, the knowledge of the Lord Advocate and the Crown Office. Ms Grahame herself a former lawyer, also claims Scottish police investigators did not record the fragment’s transportation across the world and in doing so broke the vital chain of evidence undermining the integrity of the fragment. She said:
"The Crown Office have confirmed to me that the fragment, PT-35, the piece of evidence that it was claimed by prosecutors linked Libya to the attack was also sent to Germany in April 1990 as well as the US.
"On the 22nd of June 1990 it was then taken to the FBI lab in Washington for examination by FBI officials there. Lord Fraser makes it clear he did not know and would not have allowed this evidence to be taken out of Scottish jurisdiction and control, but that is precisely what did happen. That leaves a very serious question mark over the central piece of evidence used to convict Mr Megrahi."
The senior Scottish police investigator involved in the case, retired Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Henderson told Dutch journalists last December (2008):
"We couldn’t afford to let something like that go. It has never been in their [US] control at all. It couldn’t be, because it was such an important point of evidence it wasn’t possible to release it. It had to be contained to be produced at the court therefore you couldn’t afford to have it waved around for everyone to see it because it could have got interfered with."
"But that is precisely what appears to have happened," Ms Grahame said and separately confirmed she has seen additional documents yet to be made public that showed DCS Henderson had told Crown prosecution officials in a formal legal statement that the fragment had indeed been to the US. Ms Grahame added:
"I am not sure why DCS Henderson’s statements made separately to Dutch TV and to the Crown Office contradict each other so starkly. That is a matter for Mr Henderson to explain. Either this fragment was in the US or it was not.
"I am deeply concerned that during the investigation and indeed leading all the way up to the Trial that neither the Crown nor Megrahi’s Defence were ever made aware that this crucial piece of evidence was being ‘waved around for everyone to see’ as DCS Henderson put it.
"Questions also need to be answered about the associated evidence log that was meant to accompany PT-35. It mysteriously does not record that the fragment went to the US or Germany, even though the Crown Office has confirmed in writing that it definitely went to Germany."[9]

International Inquiry

On 24 November 2009, Christine Grahame MSP lodged the following motion at the Scottish Parliament:

"That the Parliament supports the establishment of an International Inquiry into the circumstances that led to the blowing up of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie in December 1988 that murdered 270 passengers and urges all relevant Scottish authorities to co-operate with it; further supports that such an inquiry should also consider the relationship of that atrocity to the shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 over the Straits of Hormuz five months before by a US warship, which claimed the lives of 290 passengers, and urges the international community to pursue, investigate and bring to justice all those ultimately responsible for these two terrorist attacks, which it considers constitute crimes against humanity."[10]

Patrick Haseldine commented:

Christine Grahame's parliamentary motion seeks to classify both IR 655 and PA 103 as "crimes against humanity" which are defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum as "particularly odious offences in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings.
They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority."
Neither incident appears to qualify under this definition.
However, a crime against humanity will almost certainly have been committed if the South African apartheid regime were to be deemed responsible for the murder of UN Commissioner for Namibia, Bernt Carlsson, in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.[11]



References

External links

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