Lockerbie: speculation rife, tempers fraying

Predictably the furore over the possible release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi has grown exponentially since the breaking of the news that he was seeking to drop his appeal against conviction for the Lockerbie bombing.  Professor Robert Black gives full details and updates on his excellent Lockerbie blog.

Amongst the items now covered on Professor Black's blog are Tam Dalyell's theory that the US Government connived at the bombing of PanAm 103 as part of a "Faustian" pact with Iran to avert the bombing of many more civil airliners in revenge for the shooting down of an Iranian airliner by the USS Vincennes earlier in 1988; a Sunday Times story that the document recovery of which was sought by Megrahi in connection with his appeal is ultimately from American intelligence sources and blames Iran for the bombing; and a Sunday Telegraph story about Dr Jim Swire's proposal to take civil action against the Scottish prosecuting authorities for "deliberately obstructing" his right "to know who killed my daughter" (Flora was one of the victims of the bombing) and "to seek annulment of the findings of the Lockerbie Fatal Accident Inquiry [of 1990] on grounds of withholding of evidence about Heathrow, and then to seek a new FAI or legitimate equivalent in its place."  The evidence said to have been withheld is about a break-in at PanAm's Heathrow baggage area 17 hours before PanAm 103 took off.

Items not so far covered by Professor Black include a BBC story about a meeting between Lord Mandelson, the First Secretary of State, and Saif Gaddafi, son of the Libyan leader, which took place while both were on holiday in Corfu in the week before the stories broke about Megrahi's possible release, and at which, it appears, the two had a "fleeting conversation" about Megrahi, although Lord Mandelson was "completely unsighted on the subject".  

Robert has also not yet picked up an explosive outburst from Alistair Bonnington, also on the BBC website, criticising the "Lockerbie trial conspiracy groupies", as a "bizarre array" suffering from "internet-fuelled madness".  It seems a curious way to describe Robert Black, Tam Dalyell and Jim Swire, but perhaps they are not Alistair's target on this occasion.  Alistair argues that it is Libya which has told Megrahi to abandon his appeal so that after his death it can be maintained that the full truth was never known because the appeal was not completed.  Finally he criticises the call from some relatives of the victims for a public inquiry into the whole affair as "outrageous, selfish and irresponsible", since it would use up public funds better spent on the prevention of crime in the future.

Meantime in the eye of the storm Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has issued a statement saying that no date has yet been set for the announcement of any decision on the matter because no decision has yet been taken; but an announcement will be made "as soon as possible – certainly within the next couple of weeks".