The Sunday Times October 23, 2005
Fraser: my Lockerbie trial doubts
LORD Fraser of Carmyllie, the former lord advocate who issued the arrest warrant for the Libyan convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, has cast doubt on the reliability of the main witness in the trial. The former Conservative minister described Tony Gauci, the Maltese shopkeeper whose testimony was central in securing a conviction against Abdelbasset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, as “not quite the full shilling” and “an apple short of a picnic”.
Fraser, who as
Pan Am flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie on
A key plank in the case against Megrahi was provided by Gauci who claimed that he sold Megrahi clothes that were believed to have been wrapped around the bomb. Fraser said that he believes Gauci was a “weak point” in the case and has expressed concern that he was a “simple” man who might have been “easily led”. “Gauci was not quite the full shilling. I think even his family would say (that he) was an apple short of a picnic. He was quite a tricky guy, I don’t think he was deliberately lying but if you asked him the same question three times he would just get irritated and refuse to answer,” he said. “You do have to worry, he’s a slightly simple chap, are you putting words in his mouth even if you don’t intend to?” Fraser said he has been invited to
Fraser said he believes that Megrahi should now be free to return to his native
William Taylor QC, the man who led Megrahi’s defence, said Fraser should never have presented Gauci as a crown witness: “A man who has a public office, who is prosecuting in the criminal courts in Scotland, has got a duty to put forward evidence based upon people he considers to be reliable. “He was prepared to advance Gauci as a witness and, if he had these misgivings about him, they should have surfaced at the time. “The fact that he is now coming out many years later after my former client has been in prison for nearly 4Å years is nothing short of disgraceful.”
Jim Swire, spokesman for the families of victims and who lost his daughter Flora in the atrocity, said: “Lord Fraser had detailed knowledge of events and I think we have to take seriously anything he says now that is relevant to those who gave evidence at
Gauci said; “I am not interested in what this man said. What matters to me is what the court said and that’s it. That’s all I have to say.”
All the members of Megrahi’s defence team were approached but have declined to comment.