THE Crown Office failed to disclose key evidence that would have “broken the chain between Megrahi and Lockerbie”, according to new allegations.
Prosecutors are now coming under increasing pressure to respond to the claims in the book Megrahi: You are my jury. The Lockerbie Evidence’.
According to the author, John Ashton, tests carried out by Crown forensic expert Allen Feraday revealed a difference between a fragment of circuit board found after the explosion and 20 timers made by Swiss company Mebo for the Libyan intelligence services, one of which is alleged to have found its way into the hands of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi.
The Crown has refused to comment on the allegations around the fragment, because it is a “live investigation”.
However, Mr Ashton, who worked as a researcher on Megrahi’s second appeal and interviewed him six times, has said the Crown Office should respond to the claims and, if it does not, there should be a Scottish Government inquiry.
“This is the first time that most of this primary evidence has been made public,” he said. “Most of it was not made available to the court or disclosed by the Crown. They did not meet their duty [of disclosure]. That, I contend, is a huge scandal.
“Whether it was deliberate or not, I don’t know. But it was appalling, and someone should be held to account for it.”
The fragment of a circuit board found in clothing, which shopkeeper Tony Gauci said had been bought by Megrahi from his shop in Malta, was key to the conviction.
However, Mr Ashton says evidence found before the trial cast doubt on the prosecution’s case.
“Months before Megrahi had gone home, we saw documents that Feraday had done tests on fragments and the control sample,” he said.
“He had looked at the results and written, in handwriting, that the fragment was pure tin and the sample was tin-lead alloy.
“The police got them on 9 November, 1989, six months before the trial. We must presume that the Crown got it, because I don’t think the police would have held them back.
“The Crown has to explain why that was held back and, if they will not, there has to be an inquiry.”
Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, has led calls for a response to the allegations from the Crown Office.
“The Lord Advocate needs to make a formal statement on the allegations, to answer calls for a public inquiry,” he said.
“The Lord Advocate needs to be absolutely clear on the way forensic evidence was handled and revealed. Gravely important statements have been made about whether evidence was obstructed or covered up.
“People will expect the Lord Advocate to be clear with them.”
Further allegations were made in a BBC documentary last night, which cast further doubts on the evidence given by Mr Gauci.
According to Mr Gauci, when Mr Megrahi left his business in Malta he “walked out the shop with the umbrella, which he opened as it was raining”.
However, reports show that Luqa, which is 5km away from Sliema, where Mr Gauci’s shop was situated, received no rain that day.
Local meteorologist Major Mifsud told the documentary that he was 90 per cent certain there would have been no rainfall in Sliema either.
The documentary also says that Mr Gauci had a magazine with a picture of Megrahi, and the caption “Who planted the bomb?” for many months before picking him out in an identity parade at Kamp van Zeist in The Netherlands.
However, Megrahi insists he is not angry towards Mr Gauci.
“I find him a very simple man. But I do forgive him,” he says.