Scotland’s Crown Office played a role in perverting the course of justice at Lockerbie trial, say many in Scots legal world. Scotland’s institutionally corrupt Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) which is headed by the Lord Advocate, has been accused of criminality over their part in the trial of Abdelbasset al Megrahi for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988.
The Justice for Megrahi group have made the accusations in a letter to Scotland’s Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who has been in the justice portfolio now for over five years, with little to show for any improvements in Scotland’s now notoriously “Victorian” justice system.
The letter from the Justice for Megrahi group is reprinted below, followed by coverage from BBC News. More on the story can also be read on Professor Robert Black’s Lockerbie Case blog Previous coverage on the Lockerbie case by Scottish Law Reporter can be viewed here Lockerbie Trial
Letter from Justice for Megrahi group to Kenny MacAskill :
Dear Mr MacAskill,
The Committee of Justice for Megrahi hereby formally lodge with you complaints alleging criminal wrongdoing in the investigation and prosecution of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and Lamin Fhimah for the murder of 270 people in the downing of Pan Am 103 on 21 December 1988.
These complaints are directed against the persons and bodies named below whom, for the reasons given, we believe may be guilty of the criminal offences specified.
1. On 22 August 2000 the Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd QC, communicated to the judges of the Scottish Court in the Netherlands information about the contents of CIA cables relating to the Crown witness Abdul Majid Giaka that was known to members of the prosecution team [A. B. and C. D.] who had scrutinised the cables, to be false. The Lord Advocate did so after consulting these members of the prosecution team. It is submitted that this constituted an attempt to pervert the course of justice.
2. Members of the Lockerbie prosecution team, including but not limited to [C. D.], devised and presented or allowed to be presented to the trial court a scenario regarding the placement of items in luggage container AVE4041 which was known to be false, in order to obfuscate and conceal compelling evidence that the bomb suitcase was introduced by a terrorist infiltration at Heathrow airport. It is submitted that this constituted an attempt to pervert the course of justice.
3. Dumfries and Galloway Police, and those individuals employed by that force responsible for the recording, prioritising and submission to the Crown Office of evidence gathered in the investigation into the downing of Pan Am Flight 103, and the Crown Office, and those individuals in that organisation responsible for the analysis of said evidence and identifying what material required to be passed on to those acting for Megrahi and Fhimah, concealed the witness statement relating to the break-in to Heathrow airside giving access to the luggage loading shed used by Pan Am 103 in the early hours of 21 December 1988 which was provided by Heathrow Security Officer Raymond Manly to the Metropolitan Police shortly after Mr Manly’s discovery of the break-in. It is submitted that the concealment of this witness statement, which was or ought to have been known to Dumfries and Galloway Police and the Crown Office to be of the highest possible significance to the defence, constituted an attempt to pervert the course of justice.
4. [In the course of his testimony at Camp Zeist, witness E. F.] told the Court that the materials and tracking analysis of fragment PT/35b, the sliver of printed circuit board said to have originated from a circuit board contained in one of the 20 MST-13 digital timer instruments supplied by MEBO AG to Libya (the boards for all these timers having been custom-made for MEBO by Thuring AG), were “similar in all respects” to the control samples of MST-13 circuit boards. [E. F.] consistently used this form of words to describe analyses of items which were identical or of common origin. This statement was false. While the tracking pattern was indeed identical, [E. F.] was aware that the coating on the circuitry of the control boards was the standard alloy of 70% tin and 30% lead, while the coating on the circuitry of fragment PT/35b (most unusually) lacked the 30% lead content. It is submitted that his statement to the Court was a deliberate falsehood designed to conceal a significant and material difference between the evidential fragment and the control items, and thus constituted both perjury and an attempt to pervert the course of justice.
5. The Lockerbie investigation, and in particular [police officer G. H.], knew by 1990 that the coating on the circuitry of fragment PT/35b was composed of pure tin, and that this composition was highly unusual, being described as “by far the most interesting feature” of the fragment by all the experts who were consulted, “without exception”. By early 1992 [G. H.] and those in the Crown Office to whom he reported also knew that the metallurgy testing on the control MST-13 circuit boards showed the circuitry on these boards to be coated with the standard 70% tin / 30% lead alloy. [G. H.] and those in the Crown Office to whom he reported either failed to inquire with the manufacturer Thuring AG whether they had supplied any MST-13 timer boards with the unusual lead-free coating, or did make such inquiries and failed to disclose the results of these inquiries to the defence. It was discovered by the defence team in 2008 that Thuring AG did not manufacture printed circuit boards with a lead-free coating, and indeed lacked the manufacturing capacity to do so. If [G. H.] and/or those in the Crown Office to whom he reported failed to make the relevant inquiries with Thuring AG, it is submitted that this omission was grossly negligent. If [G. H.] and/or those in the Crown Office to whom he reported made such inquiries and failed to disclose the results to the defence, it is submitted that this failure constitutes an attempt to pervert the course of justice.
6. From our assessment of the ‘SCCRC Statement of Reasons’, relating to its referral of Mr. Megrahi’s case to the Court of Criminal Appeal in 2007, and the ‘Grounds of Appeal 1 and 2' documents prepared by his legal team in furtherance of that appeal, it is clear that a number of questions have been raised in relation to the process which led to the identification of Mr. Megrahi by witness Mr. Anthony Gauci. These include doubts about the legitimacy of the process by which Mr. Gauci’s identification evidence was obtained, assessed and delivered, and what prompted significant failures by the Crown to disclose related material information. From these documents it appears that [police officer I. J.] and other police officers who were involved in this identification process might well have been aware that a number of the aspects of the process they were following were flawed and did not accord with guidelines extant at the time or with any general principles of fairness to the accused. It is submitted that the omissions and failings referred to in the relevant reports indicate that [I. J.] and others have important questions to answer in connection with the identification process, and we believe, taken as a whole, that their conduct constitutes an attempt to pervert the course of justice and a breach of section 44 (2) of the Police (Scotland) Act 1967 (violation of duty by a constable).
The above numbered complaints simply constitute the basic allegations. Documents containing detailed supporting material have been prepared and will be made available to the investigating authorities as and when requested by them.
You above all will realise the seriousness of these allegations which strike at the very heart of the Lockerbie investigation past and present. Effectively, we are complaining about the actions of Crown Office officials, the prosecution and investigating authorities including the police, and certain other agencies and individuals. Given the controversy surrounding this whole affair we request that you give serious thought to the independence of any investigating authority you appoint. As a group we believe that you should appoint someone outwith Scotland who has no previous direct or indirect association with Lockerbie or its ramifications.
You will be aware of the disquiet we feel about the delay and obfuscation which have surrounded this whole affair since 1988. Nevertheless we understand you will require reasonable time to inquire into these allegations and decide how you wish to proceed.
We therefore propose to keep these matters private and confidential for a period of thirty days from the date of this letter to allow you to carry out the necessary enquiries, decide how you wish the matter to be investigated, and respond to us. We thereafter reserve the right to make the above matters public as and when we feel appropriate and reasonable. Furthermore, on the grounds that JFM’s petition PE1370 is due for consideration on 25 September, we also reserve the right to inform the Justice Committee of the fact that we have lodged this document with yourself, making reference (in general terms only) to the fact that it contains serious allegations relating to the Lockerbie/Zeist case.
In passing we would also note the recent publicity given to the perceived lack of independence in Scotland between the Lord Advocate and the Scottish Government by Mr. Andrew Tickell.
We also share this concern and would hope, for reasons that must be obvious from the foregoing, that your response to this letter will be free from Crown Office influence of any kind.
We thank you for your time and attention in this matter and look forward to an acknowledgment of receipt by return.
On behalf of the Committee of Justice for Megrahi
BBC News reports :
By Reevel Alderson Home affairs correspondent, BBC Scotland
Scotland's former chief prosecutor Lord Boyd has been accused by campaigners for the Lockerbie bomber of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Justice for Megrahi (JFM) also claim police, forensic scientists and Crown Office personnel broke the law.
The Scottish government said JFM should send any evidence to Dumfries and Galloway police which carried out the original investigation into Lockerbie.
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi is the only man convicted of the 1988 atrocity.
Three judges heard the evidence without a jury at a special court in the Netherlands in 2001, when Lord Boyd was lord advocate.
They sentenced Megrahi to life imprisonment for the murder of the 270 people who died when Pan Am 103 was blown up over the Scottish town.
Megrahi died in May this year of inoperable prostate cancer.
Justice for Megrahi
The convicted bomber had abandoned a second appeal against his conviction in 2009 shortly being sent from a Scottish prison to Libya on compassionate grounds.
But campaigners, who want Megrahi's conviction overturned, have kept up their demands for a public inquiry into the investigation and prosecution of the Lockerbie case.
On Tuesday, JFM published a letter it had sent to Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill detailing its complaints about the legal process.
It claimed the lord advocate at the time, Lord Boyd, who led the Lockerbie prosecution, gave information to the trial judges which members of his team knew to be false.
It concerned the contents of American CIA cables relating to the prosecution witness, Abdul Majid Giaka.
In its letter, JFM said: "It is submitted this constituted an attempt to pervert the course of justice."
It makes similar claims about members of the prosecution team at the trial at Kamp Zeist in the Netherlands, and about police and forensic officers.
convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi died in May
JFM said its allegations "strike at the very heart of the Lockerbie investigation past and present".
It said it had documents of supporting material - but gave no details.
The campaign group repeated its call for an independent inquiry to be held by someone outwith Scotland.
Mr MacAskill has not replied to the letter, but asked Neil Rennick, deputy director of the Scottish government's justice directorate to do so.
Mr Rennick repeated the government's view that only a court had the power to uphold or overturn Megrahi's conviction.
He said: "Scottish ministers take exceptionally seriously any suggestion of inappropriate or criminal activity by individuals with key responsibilities with Scotland's justice system.
"Such allegations should be reported and investigated through the appropriate procedures."
He said it was not for the government to investigate allegations of criminality; it was for the lord advocate who is independent of government.
Mr Rennick told JFM it should provide evidence of its allegations to Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary which carried out the Lockerbie investigation.
Lord Boyd, who is now a judge, has made no comment.
But the Crown Office said it considered the allegations to be defamatory.
It added: "These allegations have been addressed and rejected in a combination of court hearings, an inquiry by Lothian and Borders police and the investigation by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC).
"The SCCRC was satisfied after full and proper investigation that there was no basis for concluding that evidence in the case was fabricated by the police, the Crown, forensic scientists or any other representatives of official bodies or government agencies."