Megrahi supporters call for inquiry to salvage ‘mangled wreck’ of justice

A SERIES of high-profile figures have backed calls for an inquiry into the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing.

War correspondent Kate Adie, social commentator Professor Noam Chomsky, Ian Hislop, the editor of Private Eye, Cardinal Keith O’Brien and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are among those who have signed the open letter which has appeared in the Scottish Review.

The letter was written by Robert Forrester, secretary of the Justice for Megrahi campaign, which also made the call in The Scotsman on Monday.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Megrahi is the only person ever convicted of the terrorist atrocity which claimed the lives of 270 people when a bomb exploded on a plane above Lockerbie in 1988. He was released in 2009 on compassionate grounds, as he was suffering from prostate cancer, and died on Sunday.

Concerns have been raised about the conviction, including in John Ashton’s book Megrahi: You are my Jury, which claimed the Crown Office failed to disclose key evidence that would have “broken the chain between Megrahi and Lockerbie” during the trial, and by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.

In his letter, Mr Forrester wrote: “However long it takes, the campaign seeking to have Mr al-Megrahi’s conviction quashed will continue unabated, not only in his name and that of his family, who must still bear the stigma of being related to the ‘Lockerbie Bomber’, but above all it will carry on in the name of justice.”

He added: “Fine words are not enough. Action is required.

“If Scotland wishes to see its criminal justice system reinstated to the position of respect that it once held, rather than its languishing as the mangled wreck it has become because of this perverse judgment, it is imperative that its government acts by endorsing an independent inquiry into this entire affair.”

The letter is also signed by a number of relatives of victims of the Lockerbie bombing, who have repeatedly questioned the guilt of Megrahi, including Jean Berkley, Reverend John Mosey and Dr Jim Swire.

Meanwhile, Dr Swire has said he believes Megrahi’s family will look to appeal his conviction following his death in Tripoli.

“I met Megrahi in December last year, He repeatedly expressed the opinion that his family would wish to do that [appeal] when he died,” Dr Swire said. “All indications were that he hoped his family would want to do that, and that his family wanted to do that.”

Dr Swire believes Megrahi’s death has made an appeal against conviction more likely.

“The situation is that Megrahi, as the accused and convicted person, had absolute priority over the question of any appeal,” he said. “While he was still around, there was no question of the family or anyone else taking action.”

The Scottish Government insists any review of the conviction would be a matter for the courts.

Justice secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “The issues now being raised relate to the conviction itself, and that must be a matter for a court of law.

“Mr al-Megrahi was convicted in a court of law, his conviction was upheld on appeal, and that is the only appropriate place for his guilt or innocence to be determined.”