The following was received from Megrahi's solicitors and can now be released.

 

Press release

 

Strictly embargoed until 2.30pm, Thursday 28th June 2007

 

 

In response to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission’s decision to refer his case back to the High Court, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi today issued the following statement through his solicitor Tony Kelly:

 

“I would like to thank the Commission for its thorough and painstaking investigation.  I was never in any doubt that a truly independent review of my case would have this outcome.

 

“I reiterate today what I have been saying since I was first indicted in 1991:  I was not involved in the Lockerbie bombing in any way whatsoever.  I am confident that when the full picture is put before the ultimate arbiters, the Lords Commissioners of Justiciary, I shall finally be recognised as an innocent man.

 

“To the relatives of those many people who died on 21st December 1988 I can say very little that will not sound insensitive.  What I would like to reiterate, however, is that their cause is in no way served by the incarceration of an innocent man.  Like them, I wish the whole truth about Pan Am 103 to be exposed.  Finally, to those who have offered messages of support, I give my heartfelt thanks.”

 

Mr Kelly added: 

 

“The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission received Mr Al Megrahi’s application in September 2003.  Since then its legal officers, Board of Commissioners and Chief Executive have clearly put a great deal of thought, energy and resources into the case. 

 

The Commission has arrived at the view that there may have been a miscarriage of justice in this case on several bases.  These are set out in an exhaustive Statement of Reasons that runs to over 800 pages.  It is clear that the Commission has not come to its decision lightly: this is a matter of some moment, not only to Mr Al Megrahi, but to the Scottish Criminal Justice System as a whole. 

 

The Commission’s remit is now at an end.  The Court of Criminal Appeal will now consider Mr Al Megrahi’s appeal.  Only it has the power - as Mr Al Megrahi will invite it to exercise - to quash his conviction.”

Notes for editors:

 

  1. Legal team.

 

The team is led by Tony Kelly of Taylor & Kelly Solicitors, Coatbridge.  Specialising in civil liberties, the firm as a whole and Tony individually are each Chambers-ranked ‘Leaders in their Field’.   Tony was first instructed by Mr Al Megrahi in 2005, having won a series of high-profile prisoners’ rights cases.

 

The advocates instructed are:

 

Margaret Scott QC.  Regarded as one of the most gifted criminal appeal advocates of her generation, Margaret was called to the Bar in 1991.  Among those she has represented are Kim Galbraith and George McPhee, each of whose murder convictions were overturned on appeal.  She has also conducted a number of ground-breaking cases which have resulted in significant changes in the law, such as Thomson v Crowe and Holland v HMA. She is recognised for specialising in human rights and led a number of appeals before the Privy Council. She was first instructed in the Lockerbie case following Mr Al Megrahi’s unsuccessful appeal in 2002.  She gained silk the same year and in 2003 was appointed part-time sheriff.

 

Jamie Gilchrist.  He called to the Bar in 1994 having worked as a solicitor in private practice for the previous ten years.  An experienced criminal practitioner in trial and appeal courts, he is highly regarded both as a defence counsel and a prosecutor.  He is a member of the regulatory crime team at Compass Chambers, specialising in practice areas ranging from health and safety & other regulatory offences to corporate, as well as general, crime.    He sits as a part-time Sheriff in courts throughout Scotland.

 

Martin Richardson.  Having spent his early career as a solicitor in commercial practice, Martin, of Axiom advocates, was called to the Bar in 2004.  While
continuing to specialise in commercial litigation, he has also appeared in a
number of criminal appeals before the High Court of Justiciary, including a
previous referral from the SCCRC. In 2005, he appeared successfully as a
junior for the appellant in Reid v. HMA ((2005) SLT 384), a landmark Human
Rights Act case. He was retained as junior counsel for Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed
Al Megrahi in 2006.

 

 

  1. Case Chronology

 

December 21st 1988:  Pan Am flight 103 is destroyed by a bomb at 19.03 hours.  All 259 passengers and crew are killed, along with 11 residents of Lockerbie.

 

November 14th 1991:  The Lord Advocate, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie QC and acting US Attorney General William Barr simultaneously announce indictments against Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi and Lamin Khalifa Fhimah.

 

March 1994Libya announces it is prepared to accept a third party proposal that the two accused be tried before Scottish judges at the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands.  The UK and US governments reject the proposal.

 

July 1998: Following lobbying by, among others, Nelson Mandela, the UK and US governments agree in principle that the two accused should be tried before Scottish judges in the Netherlands

 

August 1998Libya accepts in principle the proposal for a Scottish trial in the Netherlands. The UN Security Council unanimously endorses the plan.

 

April 5th 1999:  The two accused are handed over to the United Nations.  They are held at Kamp Zeist, a former US air base in the Netherlands, where a Scottish High Court will be specially created to hear the trial.  Mr Al Megrahi’s defence team is led by Alistair Duff of McCourts solicitors and Mr Fhimah’s by Edward MacKechnie of McGrigor Donald. 

 

May 3rd 2000:  The trial opens.  It is heard before presiding judge Lord Sutherland, and Lords Coulsfield and Lord MacLean.  The Crown case is led by the Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC and Advocates Depute Alistair Campbell QC and Alan Turnbull QC.  Mr Al Megrahi’s case is led by Bill Taylor QC, supported by David Burns QC and John Beckett, and Mr Fhimah’s by Richard Keen QC, supported by Jack Davidson QC and Murdo Macleod.

 

January 31st 2001:  The trial verdict is announced.  Mr Al Megrahi is convicted and Mr Fhimah acquitted.  Mr Al Megrahi remains in prison at Kamp Zeist pending an appeal against conviction.

 

January 23rd 2002:  Mr Al-Megrahi’s appeal commences at Kamp Zeist.  It is heard before Lord Justice General Lord Cullen and Lords Kirkwood, Osborne, Macfadyen and Nimmo Smith.  The Crown and defence teams remain unchanged.

 

March 14th 2002:  The appeal fails.  The following day Mr. Al Megrahi is flown to Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow, where he is held in a specially constructed unit. 

 

Spring 2002:  Edward MacKechnie, who previous represented Mr Fhimah, takes over as Mr. Al Megrahi solicitor.   Margaret Scott QC is subsequently instructed to help prepare an application to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC). 

 

September 2003:  The application is submitted to the SCCRC, which runs to over 400 pages and a number of appendices.

 

February 2005:  Mr Al Megrahi is moved from Barlinnie to an open wing of Greenock Prison.

 

August 2005:  Edward MacKechnie stands down as Mr Al Megrahi’s solicitor and is replaced by Tony Kelly of Taylor & Kelly Solicitors of Coatbridge.  Margaret Scott QC continues to be retained.

 

June 28th 2007:   The SCCRC announces its decision.

 

 


  1. The SCCRC

 

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) is a public body, which was established by an Act of Parliament in April 1999 to review alleged miscarriages of justice.  It is funded by the Scottish Executive Justice Department and accountable to the Scottish Parliament, however its work is entirely independent. 

 

During the eight years from its inception, until May 31st 2007, it received 904 applications, of which 860 have been concluded (669 after a full review).  Of  these, only 68 were referred back to the High Court, of which 40 were appeals against conviction and 28 appeals against sentence.

 

39 of the 68 appeal cases had been determined by the High Court by May 31st, of which 25 were successful and 11 unsuccessful (the remaining three were abandoned).

 

The Commission is based in Glasgow, headed by a Chief Executive and staffed by a Director of Administration, a Senior Legal Officers, eight Legal Officers and three administrative support staff.  Its Board, consisting of eight members is appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Scottish First Minister. 

 

  1. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi

 

Born Tripoli, Libya, April 1st 1952

 

Married with 5 children, aged 24 years; 22 years; 15 years; 12 years and 9 years. 

2 grandsons aged 2 years and 1 year.

 

He has been in prison since being handed over for trial in April 1999 (a total of 8 years and two months as at the date of the SCCRC decision). 

 

He was held at Kamp Zeist in the Netherlands, where the trial took place, until the end of his unsuccessful appeal in March 2002, when he was moved to a specially created isolation unit at Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow

 

In February 2005 he was transferred to an open wing of Greenock Prison.