SCCRC rejects Megrahi application as not ‘in the interests of justice’

Aamer Anwar

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) has decided “it is not in the interests of justice” to continue with a review of the conviction of the late Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi over the 1988 Lockerbie Bombing and has refused the application made on his behalf.

The commission received the current application from Aamer Anwar & Co., solicitors, in June 2014.

At the time it was clear that the application was made on behalf of the “Justice for Megrahi” group, in the form of Dr Jim Swire, the Rev. John Mosey and a number of other family members of the victims of the bombing.

The application also appeared to be supported by the members of the family of Mr Megrahi.

Before the commission received the application it issued a press release outlining the matters which it would have to consider at stage one of its review.

These included whether it was competent for relatives of the victims like Dr Swire to instruct any future appeal if the case was referred. On 3 July 2015, the High Court decided that the relatives of the victims had no entitlement to instruct such an appeal.

The commission also had to consider the circumstances surrounding the abandonment of Mr Megrahi’s previous appeal.

In order for it to do so, the commission said it was imperative it be provided with the defence appeal papers.

After 14 months, and after various requests were made of the Megrahi family and of Mr Megrahi’s previous solicitors, Messrs Taylor and Kelly, the commission said these had not been forthcoming.

In addition, it sought specific materials from Aamer Anwar & Co. for the Megrahi family but said that, after a year, these have not been provided.

The commission added it has been advised that there is little prospect of either the information or the defence papers being provided in the near future and said it has “little confidence in the willingness of the Megrahi family to cooperate with the current review or to take forward any subsequent appeal”.

The parties have been given a statement of reasons as to why the current application has been refused.

The criteria applied in reaching this decision are outlined in the commission’s Statutory Test policy document.

The commission’s chairman, Jean Couper, said: “A great deal of public money and time was expended on the commission’s original review of Mr Megrahi’s case which resulted, in 2007, in him being given the opportunity to challenge his conviction before the High Court by way of a second appeal.

“In 2009, along with his legal team, Mr Megrahi decided to abandon that appeal.

“Before agreeing to spend further public money on a fresh review the commission required to consider the reasons why he chose to do so.

“It is extremely frustrating that the relevant papers, which the commission believes are currently with the late Mr Megrahi’s solicitors, Messrs Taylor and Kelly, and with the Megrahi family, have not been forthcoming despite repeated requests from the commission. Therefore, and with some regret, we have decided to end the current review.

“It remains open in the future for the matter to be considered again by the commission, but it is unlikely that any future application will be accepted for review unless it is accompanied with the appropriate defence papers. This will require the cooperation of the late Mr Megrahi’s solicitors and his family”

Aamer Anwar said: “Those who instruct us are deeply disappointed with the commission’s decision.

“However it is hoped that once the security situation improves in Libya that we will be able to pursue the SCCRC application in the hope that the Megrahi case is successfully referred back to the Court of Appeal.”

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