Lockerbie bombing: Lawyers for al-Megrahi family seek Government documents

A full appeal hearing by the family of the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing has been scheduled for later this year.

The relatives of Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi have requested a posthumous appeal against his conviction for the 1988 atrocity, which claimed the lives of 270 people.

Megrahi was found guilty in 2001 of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103. He died eight years ago aged 60, three years after being released on compassionate grounds.

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At a procedural hearing yesterday, Lord Carloway set a provisional date of 23 November for the full hearing to begin. It will be heard by five senior appeal court judges.

Lawyers for Megrahi’s family told the hearing – conducted via video conferencing – that it was “in the interest of justice” they were given access to two documents held by the UK Government, but which are covered by a public interest immunity certificate.

Claire Mitchell QC said the documents should be disclosed in light of the “passage of time” and argued the public interest immunity claimed in 2008 “should not be held to apply” 12 years on.

She said: “The information contained within the undisclosed documents must relate to events or actions that occurred prior to the 21st December, 1988.

“That is, the documents must relate to events or actions that occurred at least 32 years ago and it is respectfully submitted that, given such a lapse, it is also in the interest of justice that disclosure is made in respect of these matters.”

Ian Duguid QC, representing the Advocate General, said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab continued to assert public interest immunity over the two protected documents.

He said the Foreign Secretary had given consideration to the argument over the passage of time and had lodged an updated public interest immunity certificate with the clerk of court, dated August 2020.

Mr Duguid said the validity of the certificate would need to be considered at a court hearing.

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Speaking afterwards, Aamer Anwar, the Megrahi family’s lawyer, said it was “disappointing” that Dominic Raab had lodged the certificate, saying more than three decades after the bombing, “the UK Government still refuse to declassify documents that we believe indicate a miscarriage of justice”.

He said: “Many of the families have asked whose public interest is being protected.”

Elsewhere, as part of a series of submissions setting out the grounds for the appeal, Ms Mitchell said there had been a “systemic failure of disclosure” on the part of the Crown over a range of other documents.

She said: “Looked at in the round, the question is whether or not there was a miscarriage of justice because that trial wasn’t fair because the failure to disclose was just systemic.”