In response to the detailed revelations in the Al-Jazeera documentary attributing responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing to Iran and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), the Crown Office said: “There is nothing new in these claims and some of the accounts of the evidence are inaccurate” (your report, 12 March).
The claims included US intelligence cables which read: “The execution of the operation was contracted out to Ahmad Jabril, the PFLP-GC leader. Money was given up front in Damascus for initial expense. The mission was to blow up a Pan Am flight.”
They also included the views of Robert Baer, a CIA agent who said an “executive decision was taken, coming from the White House, to focus on Libya”. These claims, in the context of the shooting down of an Iranian airliner by the USS Vincennes, support the view that Iranian retaliation was the motive for the bombing. Despite the source of these claims, the Crown Office said they were worthy of being ignored.
That response was amplified by a further statement: “The only appropriate forum for the determination of guilt or innocence is the criminal court, and Mr Megrahi was convicted unanimously by three senior judges. His conviction was upheld unanimously by five judges, presided over by the Lord Justice General, Scotland’s most senior judge.”
Here we have the definitive deployment of the philosophy of arithmetic and judicial status in defence of a crumbling conviction: if eight of Scotland’s senior judges hum in harmony, their deliberations and decisions are effectively infallible and therefore too robust to be undermined by evidence to the contrary – “old” or “new”.
The consequences of that mindset and its infatuation with the merits of Megrahi’s conviction are alive, well and thriving in the rubble of Libya, where delegations of the Scottish legal establishment continue, periodically, the search for Megrahi’s “accomplices”.
As an example of the art of desperate distraction, the Libyan expeditions are impeccable.
As an exercise in the pursuit of truth and justice, they are arguably deplorable, distasteful and disgraceful.