Daily Mail (Scotland), Saturday, February 10, 2007
New evidence that could set free the Lockerbie bomber
By Alan Crow and Marcello Mega
THE Lockerbie bomber could be freed after dramatic new claims that key evidence which helped convict him was tampered with. A confidential report says items of evidence which led to Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi being found guilty of mass murder were 'interfered' with before his murder trial. A former senior Scottish detective who worked on the Lockerbie inquiry team has told lawyers reviewing Megrahi's case about his concerns over the authenticity of certain 'labels and productions' relating to the atrocity. The ex-officer claims that one key item of evidence - an instruction manual for a Toshiba radio-cassette recorder allegedly discovered at the crash site - was used to help lay a trail that would lead to the 'bomber'. He claims the evidence became central to the case against Megrahi and helped convict him of the world's biggest terrorist atrocity before 9/11. Last night, Jim Swire, father of one of the Lockerbie victims, said: 'There has been a monumental conspiracy of cover-up involving the British and American governments for the past 18 years. Megrahi should be released and allowed to return home to his family.'
If the former police officer's statement is accepted by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, Megrahi could win a retrial or have his conviction quashed. The astonishing account by the ex-policeman, given the codename The Golfer to protect his anonymity, is contained in a submission of new evidence to the commission. The report - complied by Megrahi's lawyers - also questions the credibility and integrity of key prosecution witnesses and some police officers and forensic experts.
Yesterday, Dr Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the bombing and has campaigned vigorously for an independent and public inquiry into the affair, said: 'I listened to the entire evidence through Megrahi's trial and appeal. On the basis of that, and further information obtained since, I am convinced the verdict should be overturned. 'Megrahi should be released and allowed to return home to his family. I hope this will be done through the Scottish criminal justice system because if it isn't, the international reputation of that system will be wrecked for ever. 'There has been a monumental conspiracy of cover-up involving the British and American governments for the past 18 years. ' We need to sweep that aside and create a forum with integrity that will give us the answers we crave to the many questions that remain. 'If and when Megrahi is freed, I believe the case for an inquiry will become irresistible.'
Megrahi is currently serving life, with a minimum 27-year term, at Greenock Prison. The commission is expected to make a decision on whether to refer the case back to the Appeal Court by the end of next month.Megrahi's legal team believes the new evidence is so strong that his eventual release is all but guaranteed. Last night, retired Labour MP Tarn Dalyell, who has campaigned tirelessly for years to establish the truth of the Lockerbie bombing, said: 'The Daily Mail confirms the belief I have always had that Megrahi was a sanctions buster for Libyan Arab Airlines and the Libyan oil industry and had nothing to do with the Lockerbie crime. 'I welcome what the Mail is doing and thank them for their long-term interest.'