Lockerbie: police open new lines of inquiry

SCOTTISH prosecutors are investigating new lines of inquiry into the Lockerbie bombing, it emerged last night.

The Crown Office has contacted relatives of the victims of the atrocity informing them of the possibility of a fresh police probe.

Their investigation into the worst mass murder in British legal history has always remained open despite the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi for the bombing.

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Prosecutors have always maintained the Libyan intelligence agent did not act alone when Pan Am 103 exploded over Lockerbie in 1988 killing 270 people.

Last night it was revealed the Crown Office has contacted relatives by e-mail informing them of the plan.

Lindsey Miller, a senior procurator fiscal who was involved in preparing evidence for Megrahi's trial, wrote: "Throughout the investigation we have, at various times, taken stock of the evidence as a whole with a view to identifying further lines of inquiry that can be pursued.

"Now that the appeal proceedings are at an end a further review of the case is under way and several potential lines of inquiry, both through a 'desktop' (paper] exercise and consultation with forensic science colleagues, are being considered. You will of course appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to elaborate on these lines but please be assured that this is not simply paying lip service to the idea of an 'open case'."

Detective Chief Inspector Michael Dalgleish, from the original team that brought the case against Megrahi, is heading the investigation with four Dumfries and Galloway detectives.

Pamela Dix, who lost her brother Peter in the 1988 bombing, said "As far as we understand it there are avenues which are being pursued, and I think that should be interpreted as a good thing.

"The situation is unresolved and it is unfinished business."

Dr Jim Swire, who has long been a campaigner for a full inquiry into the bombing, said: "I think that if they are really going to a meaningful investigation then that is all well and good and long overdue. I would be all for it.

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"But if it is just a dodge to prevent an investigation into why the lives of those killed were not protected then I would be livid."

A Crown Office spokesman said: "There is no question of reopening the case against Megrahi. The open case concerns only the involvement of others with Megrahi in the murder of 270 people and the Crown will continue to pursue such lines of inquiry that become available.

"The trial court accepted the Crown's position that Mr Megrahi acted on in furtherance of the Libyan intelligence services and did not act alone.

"The Crown stood ready, willing and able to support his conviction throughout the appeal process which he abandoned."