Crown Office hit out at media publication of report alleging miscarriage of justice in Lockerbie trial. AS surely as night follows day, Scotland’s institutionally inept and always-willing-to-hide-a-judge’s-criminal-record Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) have hit back today at the Sunday Herald’s publication (yesterday) of the Statement of Reasons issued by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) in connection with the case of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, in which the SCCRC appear to have sided with the vast majority of legal and non legal minds over the conclusion Mr Al Megrahi may well have been unjustly convicted by an unjust Scottish pantomime court based in the Netherlands.
Within the Crown Office statement, issued earlier today, it was stated “It is not appropriate or helpful to seek to try a case in the media. The only place to determine guilt or innocence is in a court of law. The trial court accepted that this was an act of State sponsored terrorism and that Megrahi did not act alone.”
Shooting the messenger is a favourite tactic of the Crown Office, particularly when any resulting publicity portrays Scotland’s prosecution service as anything less than perfect.
Therefore, news reports of the Crown Office being institutionally racist, instructionally corrupt, institutionally vindictive, or just plain paying themselves tens of thousands of pounds in bonuses, or covering up millions of pounds of legal aid theft by solicitors and seeing to it no one is prosecuted, and of course, more recently, concealing the criminal records of members of the judiciary, some of whom seem to have been giving the Lord Advocate’s PF’s their desired verdicts in trials, are not welcome in Chambers Street, and certainly not welcome in four feet high headlines in the press.
Clearly in the case of the Lockerbie Trial, the media, and campaigners are more interested & motivated at getting to the truth of what happened over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988 than the Crown Office, or indeed the same discredited justice system which originally convicted Abdelbaset Al Megrahi in 2001, and which, we are now told by the Crown Office, should be relied upon once more to determine guilt or innocence.
Of course, it is a given that any appeal in connection with Mr Megrahi’s conviction must be decided by a Scottish court. However, as we have seen time & time again in Scottish courts, a very prejudicial venue where the Crown Office & their Procurators Fiscals seem to have the run of the playground, the question Scots may now wish to ask themselves is, can any of our judges now be trusted to come clean over the growing feeling their colleagues brought about a serious miscarriage of justice in the original Lockerbie Trial, and went on to cause many more miscarriages of justice to cover it up ?
The Crown Office Press Release attacking Scotland’s Sunday Herald :
The Crown notes the publication today by the Sunday Herald of the Statement of Reasons of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission in the case against Megrahi.
The Commission was working to facilitate the publication with appropriate protection for all of the persons named in it taking account of their human rights [articles 2 and 8] and issues of confidentiality. The unauthorised publication by the Sunday Herald today does not deal with any of these issues which rightly constrain all public authorities by law.
We have become very concerned at the drip feeding of selective leaks and partial reporting from parts of the Statement of Reasons over the last few weeks in an attempt to sensationalise aspects of the contents out of context.
Persons referred to in the Statement of Reasons have been asked to respond to these reports without having access to the statement of reasons and this is to be deplored. Further allegations of serious misconduct have been made in the media against a number of individuals for which the Commission found no evidence. This is also to be deplored. In fact the Commission found no basis for concluding that evidence in the case was fabricated by the police, the Crown, forensic scientists or any other representatives of official bodies or government agencies.
Other matters of significance are:
1. The SCCRC found nothing to undermine the trial court’s conclusions about the timer fragment, namely that it was part of a timer manufactured by a Swiss company, MEBO, to the order of the Libyan intelligence services.
2. The SCCRC report confirms that Tony Gauci was paid a reward by US authorities only after the first appeal.
3. No inducements or promises of reward were made by US and Scottish Law enforcement prior to his evidence being given.
4. At no stage was he offered any inducement or reward by Scottish authorities who acted with complete propriety throughout the case
5. The SCCRC recognised that Tony Gauci was not motivated by money and that he had allegedly been made an offer to go to Tripoli and be rewarded “by Libyan Government officials”
With regard to the differing accounts by Megrahi the Commission noted that:
i. There were inconsistencies and differences in account between his statements to an investigative journalist, his defence team and the SCCRC in matters of significance.
ii. He had “personal relationships” with various members of the Libyan intelligence services, including Senussi and accepted that he had been seconded to the Libyan intelligence services (JSO) and that Said Rashid was his superior in the JSO.
iii. Senussi was involved in his secondment to Libyan intelligence services (JSO).
iv. He had travelled with a Colonel in the Libyan intelligence services (JSO) on a false passport in 1987
v. Megrahi gave the Commission conflicting accounts of his connection to the Libyan intelligence services (JSO)
vi. Megrahi confirmed he had knowledge of a man in Spain who was assassinated because he was allegedly an American spy
vii. Megrahi has given a number of different explanations to his lawyers and the Commission about his presence in Malta and use of a false passport on 21 December 1988
viii. The SCCRC believed “there was a real risk that the trial court would have viewed his explanations … as weak or unconvincing” “In particular, the Commission notes the unsatisfactory nature of aspects of their (Megrahi and Fhimah) explanations and the various contradictions which are apparent both within and between their accounts.
Although it is possible there are innocent reasons for these deficiencies, they do lead the Commission to have reservations about the credibility and reliability of both as witnesses.”
The commission's role is to conduct an investigation and determine whether there may have been a miscarriage of justice. It does not follow that there was a miscarriage of justice, only the Appeal Court can decide that. It should be noted that not all referrals by the SCCRC result in convictions being overturned; less than half of convictions referred to the Appeal are overturned.
In preparing for Megrahi’s second appeal [which followed the Commission's report] the Crown had considered all the information in the Statement of Reasons and had every confidence in successfully defending the conviction in the Appeal Court for a second time. Although it is entirely a matter for the Commission if the case is referred again to the Appeal court the Crown will defend the conviction.
It is not appropriate or helpful to seek to try a case in the media. The only place to determine guilt or innocence is in a court of law. The trial court accepted that this was an act of State sponsored terrorism and that Megrahi did not act alone.
Investigations will continue to bring the others involved in the murder of 270 persons to justice. As a result the Crown will be making no further comment on the evidence in the case and on the Statement of Reasons.
Notably, the First Minister welcomed the Sunday Herald’s publication of the SCCRC’s statement, more on which can be read at Scottish Law Reporter Crown Office ‘misled court’ : SCCRC statement on Lockerbie Trial reveals possible miscarriage of justice over conviction of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi