THE official case against Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, is crumbling, according to the father of one of the victims.

Dr Jim Swire’s comments came as the fallout continued from the first extracts published of former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill’s book “The Lockerbie Bombing: The Search for Justice”.

MacAskill wrote that clothes in the suitcase used to carry the bomb “were acquired in Malta, though not by Megrahi. But if Megrahi didn’t buy the clothes, he was certainly involved”.

The verdict reached at Megrahi’s trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, hinged on evidence from Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci that he had bought the clothes in his shop.

Swire told The National: “I think what we’re seeing is the official case is falling to pieces. There will have to be a legally powerful review of all the evidence, the way the trial was conducted and it’s more than justified whatever the decisions reached by Operation Sandwood.”


Victims' families say don’t scrap rights act


Sandwood is a Police Scotland investigation into allegations of criminal misconduct in the Lockerbie investigation, prosecution and trial by the campaign group Justice for Megrahi (JfM) of which Swire is a founder member.

“If Sandwood confirms any of the criminal acts that are alleged then it’s absolutely inevitable that there should be such an inquiry. The evidence has to be reviewed in a way that would have the power to overturn the verdict if it so decided.

“If Megrahi didn’t buy the clothing there’s no case against him.”

Megrahi was released by MacAskill on compassionate grounds in August 2009 suffering from terminal prostate cancer, and died three years later in Libya.

Lawyer Aamer Anwar, meanwhile, has claimed that pressure is mounting for a further appeal against the conviction. He had previously applied to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) to have it 

overturned – an application made on behalf of Swire, the Rev John Mosey and 22 other British relatives of passengers who died on Pan Am Flight 103, as well as immediate Megrahi family members.

“This is not the end of the matter and the fact that a former Justice Secretary and First Minister are raising concerns about the conviction of Megrahi adds to the pressure for a further appeal, because they’re privy to information that none of us are privy to,” Anwar told The National.

“At the end of the day … Megrahi was convicted on the word of a Maltese shopkeeper who claimed to have sold him clothes, gave a description of him in multiple statements and failed to recognise him in a courtroom.

“It’s now accepted by an ex-Justice Secretary that Megrahi might not have bought those clothes. It’s all very well for Mr MacAskill to say he’s got no doubt that he was involved in the bombing in some way, but that’s not how it works in criminal law

“If Megrahi did not buy those clothes that were found in the wreckage of Pan Am flight 103 then that casts doubt on his conviction.”

Anwar added that the Scottish and UK governments had always denied playing any role in pressuring Megrahi into dropping his appeal.

MacAskill was unavailable for comment last night.

A Crown Office spokesperson said: “Following reference from the SCCRC Mr Megrahi abandoned his appeal against conviction.

"During the 27 year long inquiry not one Crown Office investigator or prosecutor has raised a concern about the evidence in this case  and Mr Megrahi was convicted unanimously by three senior judges. His conviction was upheld unanimously by five judges, in an Appeal Court presided over by the Lord Justice General, Scotland’s most senior judge.

”The Crown is proceeding with the ongoing enquiry and evidence has identified 2 suspects for whom permission is being sought for them to be interviewed by law enforcement.”