Megrahi update

As 2010 comes to an end, with tales of Mr Megrahi's imminent demise apparently somewhat exaggerated, time for an update on the rush of other stories on the subject that became public during December 2010.

(1) Despite a "deadline" of 10 December, no response so far from the Scottish Government to the Scottish Parliament Public Petitions Committee on the legal authority for the statement that the Government has no power or authority to hold an inquiry into the Megrahi conviction.

(2) But an announcement was made on 9 December by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission that not all the parties whose material submitted directly or indirectly had led the Commission to refer the Megrahi conviction back to the Court of Criminal Appeal as a possible miscarriage of justice had consented to its disclosure.  This meant that, in terms of the SCCRC (Permitted Disclosure of Information) Order 2009 (which came into force on 1 February 2010), none of the information could be disclosed.  The Herald's story back in June 2010 was thus confirmed.

(3) The "whistleblowing" disclosures of the Wikileaks website about US international diplomatic activity reached the Megrahi affair on 8 December.  These confirmed what already seemed pretty obvious to those who have followed this business over the last few years, viz that the continued detention of Megrahi seriously threatened UK government and commercial interests in Libya, especially if he were to die in prison.  They also seemed to show that Libyan blandishments to the Scottish Government had been rejected.  Lallands Peat Worrier helpfully pulls the material together.  Interesting to note comments in the pre-release material that life expectancy of three months was not "codified" in Scottish compassionate release law and that Megrahi's life expectancy could be anything up to five years.

(4) The 22nd anniversary of the fall of PanAm 108 to the earth around Lockerbie on 21 December 1988 was marked by the publication of the report on the Megrahi release by four members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  This concludes – unsurprisingly, in view of the previous publicity from the Senators – that the Scottish Government succumbed to strong political and commercial pressure from UK interests for Megrahi's release and that the prognosis of Megrahi's life expectancy was not medically justified.  The Scottish Government naturally rejected these conclusions.  The report does not appear on the Foreign Relations Committee website.  It appears to be the work of the four Senators alone, and not to carry the imprimatur of the Committee.

We seem little further forward, and increasingly unlikely to get anywhere beyond where we were in late August and early September 2009, immediately after the Justice Secretary ordered the release of Mr Megrahi.  Perhaps 2011 will none the less surprise your correspondent.