- Scottish Sunday newspaper broke law by publishing 800 page document
- It alleges the Crown Office withheld evidence from the defence
The 800-page report by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission was published on the internet by a Scottish Sunday newspaper which ignored laws preventing its release.
It contains details which al-Megrahi, the only suspect convicted in the case, claimed support doubts about his ties to the bombing.
The report, which has remained secret for five years, alleges the Crown Office withheld evidence from the defence.
It also says there were six grounds on which it believes a miscarriage of justice may have occurred.
Christine Grahame, Nationalist MSP for South of Scotland, who believes Megrahi was wrongly convicted, said publication of the report is ‘highly significant’ and called for an inquiry into the Crown Office.
Miss Grahame, convener of the Scottish parliament’s justice committee, said: ‘There are allegations in the report the Crown Office withheld crucial evidence.’
Megrahi was the only person convicted of the atrocity which killed 270 people when Pan Am Flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire, in 1988.
He was jailed in 2001 but freed on compassionate grounds in 2009.
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond defended the publication of the documents by the Sunday Herald newspaper, saying it would help better inform the public debate over the case made against al-Megrahi.
He said: ‘This report provides valuable information, from an independent body acting without fear or favor, and while we can not expect it to resolve all the issues in the Lockerbie case.
‘It does however lay the basis for narrowing the areas of dispute and in many ways is far more comprehensive than any inquiry could ever hope to be.
‘While the report shows that there were six grounds on which it believed a miscarriage of justice may have occurred.
‘It also rejected 45 of the 48 grounds submitted by al-Megrahi, and in particular it upheld the forensic basis of the case leading to Malta and to Libyan involvement.’
Scottish legal authorities have said that although it is an offense to disclose the information, no one would be prosecuted over the decision to publish.
Scotland’s Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, the country’s most senior legal officer, said he did not consider it in the public interest to prosecute.
Mulholland said the issues around al-Megrahi were ‘exceptional circumstances’ and that justice had not been served ‘by selective and misleading reporting’ of some excerpts of the file, meaning it was welcome that the entire document was made public.
Al-Megrahi dropped his plan to pursue an appeal court hearing shortly before he was granted a compassionate release from a Scottish jail in August 2009 and returned to his native Libya, where he is being treated for prostate cancer.
The files explain that the commission accepted some of al-Megrahi’s concerns over evidence that had not been passed to his defense team, including some classified intelligence files.
Al-Megrahi has questioned the testimony of a shopkeeper who identified him as having bought a man’s shirt in his store in Malta.
Scraps of the garment were later found wrapped around a timing device discovered in the wreckage of the airliner.
In document, the commission expressed concern that evidence that the shopkeeper had seen a magazine article linking al-Megrahi to the bomb plot was not passed to defense lawyers by the prosecution.
However, the files show the commission rejected dozens of other points made by al-Megrahi and supported forensic evidence that tied the suspect to the store in Malta, and to the bombing.
The Crown Office said: ‘The only place to determine guilt or innocence is in a court of law.’
Download the 800 page Report in full here that could exonerate al-Megrahi of the Lockerbie bombing ~ PDF format.