Justice for Megrahi

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Group.png Justice for MegrahiRdf-icon.png
Formation November 2008
Type lobby
Membership • Kate Adie
• John Ashton
• David Benson
• Jean Berkley
• Peter Biddulph
• Robert Black
• Noam Chomsky
• Tam Dalyell
• Ian Ferguson
• Robert Forrester
• Christine Grahame
• Patrick Haseldine
• Ian Hislop
• Pat Keegans
• A L Kennedy
• Morag Kerr
• Andrew Killgore
• Adam Larson
• Iain McKie
• Heather Mills
• John Mosey
• Charles Norrie
• Denis Phipps
• John Pilger
• Steven Raeburn
• James Robertson
• Jim Swire
• Teddy Taylor
• Desmond Tutu
A single issue justice campaign group trying to overturn the 2001 conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi.
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi in 2009 shortly after his "compassionate release"

Justice for Megrahi (JFM) is a single issue justice campaign group, comprising the committee and the signatories. JFM maintains that on the basis of the evidence laid by the Crown before the three judges of the High Court of Justiciary at Kamp van Zeist (Netherlands), the 2001 conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie (Scotland) was a miscarriage of justice. Although the central plank of JFM’s position is concerned with the contention that no reasonable court could have convicted on the basis of the evidence as presented to the court, it also acknowledges other factors beyond this relating to, amongst other things, the fact that whilst the Crown was aware of evidence of value to the defence case before the trial, this evidence did not become public knowledge until after the verdict had been passed. JFM exists to address issues surrounding the investigation of the destruction of the aircraft and the subsequent trial of Mr al-Megrahi and Mr Lamin Khalifah Fhimah. Its main objective is to campaign to have Mr al-Megrahi’s conviction quashed.[1]

History

Justice for Megrahi was founded in November 2008 following the judicial hearing which set out the arrangements for Mr al-Megrahi’s second appeal. The appeal had been referred back to the Court of Appeal on a total of six grounds (largely concerned with the quality of evidence provided by the Crown’s star witness at Kamp van Zeist, Maltese shopkeeper Mr Tony Gauci) by Scotland’s expert and independent legal authority, which has responsibility for referring cases to the Court of Appeal: the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC). The initial aim of JFM was to campaign, by means of a public petition to be submitted to Scottish Government ministers, for the compassionate release of Mr al-Megrahi in light of his terminal medical condition. In September 2009, following the prisoner’s release, JFM began its campaign to have the 2001 verdict overturned via a comprehensive independent inquiry, or other judicial means, into the Lockerbie case. JFM contends that the reputation of Scotland’s justice system has suffered a severe blow because of the Zeist verdict and that only through testing the validity of the verdict can this reputation be redeemed.

Original signatories

Justice for Megrahi comprises the committee, made up of its founding members, and the signatories who endorse the JFM campaign. The current (August 2010) committee members:

Professor Robert Black QC
Mr Robert Forrester
Father Pat Keegans, Lockerbie parish priest on 21st December 1988
Mr Iain McKie
Doctor Jim Swire

The original signatories:

Ms Kate Adie (Former Chief News Correspondent for BBC News)
Mr John Ashton (Co-author of: "Cover-up of Convenience")
Mr David Benson (Actor/author of the play "Lockerbie: Unfinished Business")
Mrs Jean Berkley (Mother of Alistair Berkley: victim of Pan Am 103)
Mr Peter Biddulph (Lockerbie tragedy researcher)
Prof Robert Black QC ("Architect" of the Kamp van Zeist Trial)
Prof Noam Chomsky (Human rights, social and political commentator)
Mr Tam Dalyell (UK MP: 1962-2005. Father of the House: 2001-2005)
Mr Ian Ferguson (Co-author of: "Cover Up of Convenience")
Mr Robert Forrester (Justice for Megrahi Committee)
Ms Christine Grahame MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament)
Mr Patrick Haseldine (HM Diplomatic Service - retired)
Mr Ian Hislop (Editor of Private Eye)
Fr Pat Keegans (Lockerbie parish priest on 21st December 1988)
Ms A L Kennedy (Author)
Mr Andrew Killgore (Former US Ambassador to Qatar)
Mr Adam Larson (Editor and proprietor of The Lockerbie Divide)
Mr Iain McKie (Retired Police Superintendent)
Ms Heather Mills (Reporter for Private Eye)
Rev John Mosey (Father of Helga Mosey: victim of Pan Am 103)
Mr Charles Norrie (Brother of Tony Norrie: victim of UT 772)
Mr Denis Phipps (Aviation security expert)
Mr John Pilger (Campaigning human rights journalist)
Mr Steven Raeburn (Editor of The Firm)
Mr James Robertson (Author)
Dr Jim Swire (Father of Flora Swire: victim of Pan Am 103)
Sir Teddy Taylor (UK MP: 1964-2005. Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland)
Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Nobel Peace Prize Winner).

Text of Petition PE1370

Calling 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. At its meeting on 3 June 2014, the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee decided to keep open JFM's petition PE1370.[2]

Name of Petitioner

Dr Jim Swire, Professor Robert Black QC, Mr Robert Forrester, Father Patrick Keegans and Mr Iain McKie on behalf of Justice for Megrahi.

Prior Action

In support of Justice for Megrahi’s (JFM’s) call for a full and open public inquiry, the group has lobbied the following bodies and individuals:

  • the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organisation
  • all missions with a seat at the General Assembly of the UN
  • the African Union
  • the League of Arab States
  • the Non-Aligned Movement
  • the President of Egypt
  • the governments of Libya, Malta, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, United States of America and Scotland

With the exception of the Maltese and Scottish governments, none of the above has responded to our advances.

In September 2010, JFM made representations to the First Minister, Mr Alex Salmond MSP, in the hope that the Scottish Government would establish an inquiry into the affair under its auspices citing the following reasons:

  • the event occurred over and on Scottish territory.
  • the case was investigated by a Scottish police force.
  • the trial was conducted under Scots Law.
  • Mr al-Megrahi was convicted under Scots Law.
  • Mr al-Megrahi was imprisoned in a Scottish gaol.
  • the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission referred the second appeal to the Scottish Court of Appeal.
  • Mr al-Megrahi was given compassionate release by the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice.

In declining JFM's submission, a Scottish Government spokesman stated the following as justification for the decision not to endorse the campaign's request that Edinburgh set up an inquiry into the Lockerbie case:

"The Scottish Government do not doubt the safety of the conviction of al-Megrahi. Nevertheless, there remain concerns to some on the wider issues of the Lockerbie atrocity. The questions to be asked and answered in any such inquiry would be beyond the jurisdiction of Scots Law and the remit of the Scottish Government, and such an inquiry would, therefore, need to be initiated by those with the required power and authority to deal with an issue, international in its nature."

JFM continues to maintain that more than adequate evidence required to establish whether there was a miscarriage of justice at Kamp van Zeist falls well within the jurisdiction of Scotland. Amongst other things, JFM points to all documents and testimony pertaining to the investigation, the trial and the referral of Mr al-Megrahi's conviction back to the Court of Appeal, on no fewer than six grounds, bt the SCCRC. Moreover, JFM asserts that in accordance with "current UK legislation as expressed by the Inquiries Act 2005 (c12), which indicates, in sections 1, 27 and 32, that the Scottish Government possesses more than agequate powers to open an inquiry into the Lockerbie case under its own auspices." (see: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2005/12/contents)

For the above reasons, JFM now wishes to petition the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to support its call for an inquiry through an e-petition to allow the general public at home and abroad to become signatories to that petition.

Background Information

al-Megrahi arriving at Tripoli airport in 2009

We invite the Scottish Parliament to request the Scottish Government to open an independent inquiry into all those matters pertaining to the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 at Lockerbie on 21 December 1988 as lie within the jurisdiction of Scotland, and those pertaining to the Scottish criminal conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi at Kamp van Zeist in January 2001 for the following reasons:

  • the event occurred over and on Scottish territory.
  • the case was investigated by a Scottish police force.
  • the trial was conducted under Scots Law.
  • the Zeist trial site itself was designated 'Scottish territory' throughout the trial and first appeal, patrolled and protected by armed Scottish police.
  • Mr al-Megrahi was convicted under Scots Law.
  • Mr al-Megrahi was imprisoned in a Scottish gaol.
  • the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission referred the case to the Scottish Criminal Appeal Court on the basis that, on six grounds, the conviction may have been a miscarriage of justice and there is widespread public concern about the safety of the conviction.
  • Mr al-Megrahi was given compassionate release by the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice.

Such an inquiry should be open, transparent, comprehensive, conducted under the auspices of the Scottish Government and take cognisance of the powers invested in the government under current UK legislation as expressed by the Inquiries Act 2005 and, furthermore, ought to cover:

  • the Fatal Accident Inquiry into the downing of Pan Am 103
  • the police investigation of the tragedy
  • the subsequent Kamp van Zeist trial
  • the acquittal of Mr Fhimah and conviction of Mr al-Megrahi
  • the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission's (SCCRC) referral of Mr al-Megrahi's case to the Court of Appeal
  • the dropping of this second appeal and the compassionate release of Mr al-Megrahi

We contend that the Scottish criminal justice system has suffered a severe blow to its reputation because of a number of factors resultant from what has come to be known generally as the 'Lockerbie case'. Given that Mr al-Megrahi's second appeal has been dropped, it appears unlikely that the concerns voiced by the SCCRC when referring Mr al-Megrahi's conviction back to the Court of Appeal will now be heard in a court of law. It is, therefore, imperative that an inquiry be established in order to restore public confidence in the Scottish criminal justice system both at home and abroad. Whilst we accept the Scottish Government's position that some of the international facets to the case are problematic, in that they may not fall under Scottish jurisdiction, we entirely reject this as being the reason to refuse to open an inquiry. If sufficient evidence was available under Scottish jurisdiction for the SCCRC to conclude that there may have been a miscarriage of justice, it follows that the same sources would be available to an inquiry to arrive at the same conclusion. It is the duty of the Scottish Government to try its utmost to establish the truth of this highly contentious issue.

The petitioner and the JFM committee believe that the Scottish Government did not take all the facts into account when refusing their request to open an independent inquiry into all matters surrounding the Lockerbie tragedy. It is petitioning the Scottish Parliament to support the contention that even although that inquiry might not receive the co-operation of the UK and other governments, and therefore might be limited in scope, the government of Scotland has a duty to the people of Scotland and its justice system to do everything in its power to uncover the truth behind this unspeakable crime which has so damaged the reputation of the Scottish criminal justice system at home and abroad. JFM feels that it is vitally important that the people of Scotland and beyond are given the opportunity, by becoming signatories to this petition, to demonstrate to the Scottish Government that establishing the truth about Lockerbie is essential to re-establishing confidence in Scotland's institutions of justice.

Online

Petition PE1370 went online at the Scottish Government's website on 8 October 2010 and should have been available to sign for twenty days until 28 October 2010. However, the website crashed on 21 October 2010.[3] Nonetheless, the JfM e-petition was signed by 1,646 people by its closure date.[4]

Infiltrating JfM

In October 2010, Lockerbie campaigner Charles Norrie wrote the following on his blog complaining that Justice for Megrahi had been infiltrated by "a rather silly histrionic woman" (understood to be Morag Kerr):

Why does Professor Black post this message on his website?

"Justice for Megrahi is a campaign that proceeds strictly on evidence. It has no evidence that the e-petitions website crash is attributable to malicious or criminal conduct. Anyone who thinks that he/she has such evidence should communicate it to the appropriate authorities".

Now, if you listen to the likes of Mr Richard Marquise whom actually Professor Black has never criticised, he would say:

"Read my lips - the evidence produced at the trial is full complete and incontrovertible".

So why is Black saying that JfM cannot deal in speculation when to prosecutors and investigators everything on the JfM site is groundless speculation? I believe Black has allowed his site to be contaminated by those who believe it is their duty to uphold the conviction against Mr Megrahi by infiltrating those who are fighting for justice. It is a technique of the intelligence services to penetrate oppositional groups and subtly pervert their ends. It can be done so carefully that the corruption is almost invisible, until you step back and take a look.

Unfortunately, the corruption extends to to the JfM site itself.

In each case a rather silly histrionic woman of the Slim Virgin sort (good at blogging, with no moral scruples) has corrupted the aims of the the sites' avowed intentions. This is quite provable and I have collected the evidence, which is quite incontrovertible.

Charles Norrie concludes:

May I ask you to sign the current petition to secure an inquiry into Mr Megrahi's unsound conviction? It's to the Scottish Parliament and it's here:[5]
Thank you for taking the time and trouble to sign. Getting Mr Megrahi's conviction quashed is only one small step in uncovering the atrocious attack on truth and justice that is Lockerbie.[6]

Scottish Government "Despicable"

Dr Jim Swire: Scottish Government "Despicable"

Dr Jim Swire described the Scottish Government's response to the JfM petition as "despicable":

My first and personal reaction to the Scottish Government's (SG's) reply to the Holyrood Petitions Committee's presentation of JFM's petition to the SG is to feel shame.

Shame that we in Scotland should have been reduced to listening to reasoning which seems not to have any merit other than a blatant desire by deep and powerful groups within our body politic to try to protect themselves against exposure of the monstrous mistakes which seem to have been made in the past, chiefly surrounding the Zeist conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

The SG claims to have total faith in the verdict reached at Zeist despite our own SCCRC having no such confidence.

They seek to lay responsibility for the present impasse upon the shoulders of the man who they proclaim unquestioningly to believe to be the most brutal mass murderer ever to inflict his deeds upon our nation.

They even seek to blame the absence of successful appeals thus far, not upon the quality of the evidence and proceedings, but upon the decisions which the alleged mass murderer himself made, namely the decision not to speak for himself in court at Zeist, and later, in the face of a lingering and painful death (as well as subsequent representations by his own dictatorial government and a visit by the SG's own Justice Minister), to withdraw his second appeal.

How could a defendant from an alien culture be expected to ignore the advice of his own expert defence team of the day at Zeist, steeped as they supposedly were in the antecedents of Scottish law, and working as they must be presumed to have been for his advantage? The performance of his then defence team, and thus the advice not to speak in court, must itself be part of any inquiry into how this man came to be convicted, and the verdict reached, on such evidence.

As for the decision to withdraw his second appeal, this was reached following disgraceful and deliberate delaying tactics in the High Court by the Crown Office team, which knew that the appellant's time was running out in the face of an inexorable, painful and terminal medical condition. The Crown Office conduct of the second appeal, far from being a secure tool in justification of the validity of the original verdict is another aspect of the despicable way in which our nation has treated this man's case: it too should be added to any full inquiry into the verdict and its consequences.

Despicable!

The SG's Justice Secretary had responsibility for the decision to free Megrahi on compassionate grounds. The SG cannot for one moment argue against the desperate situation he and they knew him to be in.

And what have they done to bolster this whole dishonest process? They have sought to isolate the material used by the SCCRC when evaluating the safety of the verdict, by introducing secondary legislation in February 2010, clearly designed to keep that material out of the reach of all who would challenge the propriety of their own position.

Through the SCCRC, the legal arm of government has told the political arm of Government and the rest of us as clearly as its constitution allows, that this verdict is considered unsafe. The SG knows that, yet in its desperation to conceal what looks like the failure of many of the servants of this State, the best it can do is to claim that the actions taken by a frightened and dying human being from a different culture justify it's own actions.

The SG has also now admitted that its original claim that it lacked the powers to mount an inquiry (such as that requested through petition by JFM), was untrue. Multiple 'reasons' seeking to justify avoiding taking an action inevitably become just excuses. When some of those 'reasons' turn out to have been untrue, any claim to integrity is also lost.

Whence then stems the SG's belief that the verdict is safe? Does it stem from Westminster? Or from Washington? It simply cannot stem from our own legal system. So much for Scotland's integrity and independence.

Oh! Shame.

If ever there could be further reason to seek review of this case, it lies within this SG document. Any attempt to ascribe motivation for such behaviour points down the very same road as the McKie case and a number of others: the objective of Scotland's Government and some of those who work for it seems to have become to conceal the depths of failure into which we the electorate have, thus far, allowed them to sink.[7]

JfM lives to fight another day

Richard Keen QC, Lockerbie lawyer and chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party

The Justice Committee met to discuss petition PE1370 on Tuesday 18 February 2014.[8] This is Robert Forrester's account of the meeting:

The Justice Committee's consideration of JFM's petition 1370, calling on the Scottish Government to endorse for an independent inquiry into the investigation and legal processes involved in the Lockerbie/Zeist affair, held on Tuesday 18th February, was by far the most animated session of the Justice Committee that I have attended on the subject: reaching almost operatic proportions. It generated valiant, bravura performances from both Christine Grahame MSP (SNP Convener of the Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament) and John Finnie MSP (Independent) in the teeth of determined pressure to close the petition: this opposition emanated largely from Margaret Mitchell MSP (Conservative).
The principal argument used against maintaining 1370 open was the feeling that the Justice Committee was wandering away from its strict remit with regard to the petition proper by conflating it with JFM's allegations of criminality against police officers, forensic investigators and legal officials. Margaret Mitchell's position is an interesting development in that the principal Conservative Party member on the Justice committee when JFM received its first unanimous vote by the committee to keep 1370 open (11th December 2012) was the late David McLetchie MSP. JFM had up until that moment rather regarded Mr McLetchie an arch foe. However, he was most vocal in his support of the petition: backing up earlier statements made by John Finnie. The catalyst behind his change of heart was in fact that he was attracted by the new dynamic brought to the petition not only by the lodging with the then Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary of the JFM allegations themselves but also by the manner in which the JFM allegations were being treated by the authorities.
It is now, therefore, most curious that the Conservative Party appears to doing a complete volte-face on essentially the same principle that encouraged Mr McLetchie to support 1370. As Mr McLetchie recognised at the time, the petition and the allegations had become inextricably entwined as a result of the attitudes of the authorities to the allegations. This situation has not altered one jot. In fact, the attitude of Police Scotland and the Crown Office towards JFM is now even more parlous than it ever has been, so why has the position of the Conservative Party changed? Something of a mystery, methinks.[9]

Petition PE1370 signatory Patrick Haseldine suggests that the appointment as Scottish Tory Party chairman in January 2014 of Lockerbie lawyer Richard Keen QC could well explain the mystery change in the position of the Conservative Party!

If not Megrahi, then who?

Justice for Megrahi Secretary Robert Forrester

On 7 March 2014, JfM Secretary Robert Forrester announced to members and supporters:

You are invited to the world premiere of the third in the Al Jazeera series of the late lamented Chris Jeans's works on the Lockerbie/Zeist saga. This particular film, provisionally entitled "If not Megrahi, then who?", ought to have been aired around the end of last year to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Lockerbie tragedy, however, due to unexpected circumstances it was not broadcast at the time.
It will be shown in Committee Room 1 of the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 11th March 2014 at 1pm precisely. A Q&A session will follow with the Executive Producer, Dairmuid Jeffreys.
Dr Morag Kerr, who appears prominently in the documentary - Secretary-Depute of Justice for Megrahi and author of "Adequately Explained by Stupidity? Lockerbie, Luggage and Lies" - may also be available following the showing.
If you wish to attend this premiere, please RSVP to: Mary.Shanley@scottish.parliament.uk.
It is important that you do so ASAP since seating may become constrained.[10]

Barry Walker commented:

Having stayed up to watch the first part of BBC2's brilliant "39 days", I caught the start of "CIA Declassified" on the History Channel 12. This was about the CIA's efforts in the mid-1980's to effect regime change in Libya. (I take the view that the primary objective of the 1991 Indictment from the American perspective was regime change.) The programme of course featured Robert Baer. I look forward to watching the show in full at 8pm on Saturday 8 March.
With the odd exception Al Jazeera documentaries tend to be pretty dire, so I hope the third Al Jazeera film is an improvement on the first two.[11]

On 13 March 2014, Barry Walker added: the Al Jazeera documentary was dire beyond belief. It was like a rehash of the Maltese Double X dropping Khalid Jafaar and "SPAG" and bringing in even dodgier evidence.

"Conspiracy theorists"

On 3 February 2015, the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee, chaired by the Convener Christine Grahame MSP, decided unanimously to keep open Justice for Megrahi’s petition PE1370, enabling the Committee to continue its watching brief in relation to Lockerbie developments, in particular Police Scotland’s ongoing investigation of JfM’s allegations of criminality in the Lockerbie investigation, prosecution and trial; and the joint application to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission by Megrahi family members and relatives of Lockerbie victims.

Rev. John Mosey a "conspiracy theorist"?

Speaking at the Justice Committee meeting, which was attended by two of the relatives Rev. John Mosey and Dr Jim Swire, John Finnie MSP was highly critical of the Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland's recent remarks suggesting that JfM members who doubted the soundness of Megrahi's conviction were "conspiracy theorists":

Convener: "Another issue—however we get to the nub of it—is who investigates the Crown Office. The Crown Office cannot investigate itself. I think that that is where you are going with your comments, John, is it not?"
John Finnie: "I should say that Mr Finnie always seeks to temper his comments and, believe you me, these are extremely tempered comments given what I would like to say. There is an obligation on the committee to consider the issue when respected citizens are called 'conspiracy theorists' and accusations that they make in good faith are described as deliberately false and misleading. That does not suggest that an open posture is being adopted by the COPFS."
Convener: "Do you think that we are conspiracy theorists, John, as members of JFM?"
John Finnie: "I do not consider myself to be a conspiracy theorist."
Convener: "Neither do I."[12]



References

  1. "Public Petition PE1370"
  2. "Keeping Open Justice for Megrahi's PE1370 Petition" Official Report (Hansard) of the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee 3 June 2014 (Cols 4633 to 4636)
  3. "Lockerbie petition hit by technical glitch"
  4. "1,646 signatories of the JFM e-petition"
  5. "Justice for Megrahi Petition PE1370"
  6. "A Different View On Lockerbie" Charles Norrie's blog
  7. "Denial of Justice for Megrahi is Despicable, says Dr Jim Swire"
  8. "Official Report of the Justice Committee, Column 4234"
  9. "Justice for Megrahi: we live to fight another day"
  10. "Aljazeera premiere at Holyrood"
  11. "With the odd exception Al Jazeera documentaries tend to be pretty dire"
  12. "Justice Committee - PE1370" 3rd February 2015