Scottish publisher Birlinn launches into the Lockerbie controversy today with the publication of a book that promises the fullest account yet of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi’s story in his own words.
Megrahi: You Are My Jury – The Lockerbie Evidence, is by John Ashton, who worked with Megrahi’s legal team from 2006 to 2009.
A long-time researcher on the case, he is said to have been working on the 500-page book with Megrahi since the latter’s release from a Scottish prison on compassionate grounds following a cancer diagnosis in August 2009.
In its summary, the book promises to present “conclusive new evidence” to prove Megrahi was “an innocent victim of dirty politics, a flawed investigation and judicial folly”.
Megrahi is quoted as saying: “You know me as the Lockerbie bomber. I know that I’m innocent. Here, for the first time, is my true story: How I came to be blamed for Britain’s worst mass murder, my nightmare decade in prison and the truth about my controversial release.
“Please read it and decide for yourself. You are now my jury.”
Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of the bombing, which killed 270 people in December 1988. He served eight years of his 27-year sentence before being released by the Scottish Government in August 2009 after a diagnosis of terminal cancer. He remains alive.
Details of the book’s contents have been a closely guarded secret. But it has hit the headlines well before its publication, with some parents of those who died denouncing it as “blood money”.
The Rev John Mosey, will be in Edinburgh today for the book’s launch. His daughter died in the atrocity.
He said he respected Mr Ashton’s research, adding: “If the rumours of its contents are well-founded, it could open up the Lockerbie thing in a very serious manner that the legal profession will have to take notice of.”
Mr Ashton’s other books, written with co-authors, have included What Everyone in Britain Should Know about Crime and Punishment and What Everyone in Britain Should Know about the Police.
Nearly half of the latest book is in Megrahi’s own words, a Birlinn spokesperson said yesterday. About a third explores the forensic evidence, and one person who has read it described it as so complicated that “my brain has been stewed”.
The Birlinn spokesperson said: “The book came to us, and the board talked about it long and hard, but decided that this was a book we wanted to publish.
“We published it without serialisation or profiting from the book, just to get Megrahi’s story on the record.
“There is new evidence within the book, and that’s what will be revealed today. It’s also the first time that we have had a wealth of material in Megrahi’s own words.
“He will not receive any form of payment for the book.”