I’ve just been sent a copy of the front page splash from last Sunday’s Scottish edition of the Sunday Times, headlined Lockerbie conspiracies demolished. It’s a classic of its kind: recycled information masquerading as news, based on a false predicate. It opens:
An independent investigation into the conviction of the Lockerbie bomber has dismissed conspiracy theories implicating others in Britain’s worst terrorist attack. A secret report by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) found Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, who was found guilty in 2001, may have suffered a miscarriage of justice. However, it has emerged that the report rejected several arguments advanced by the Libyan’s defence team as evidence of his innocence ... The release of the 821-page dossier has been delayed by data protection issues but large chunks have been leaked by John Ashton, a journalist who worked for Megrahi’s defence team.
What the reporters, Mark Macaskill and Jason Allardyce, failed to tell their readers was that all their information about the SCCRC report was culled from an article on this website (which was the original unedited version of one published on the Herald’s website last Wednesday).
The false predicate comes a few lines later:
The SCCRC report undermines theories that formed the backbone of an appeal put together by Megrahi’s defence team.
In fact Abdelbaset’s appeal did not advance any of the ‘conspiracy theories’ rejected by the SCCRC. Furthermore, had Macaskill and Allardyce bothered to read the extracts of the grounds of appeal, which have been available online for two and a half years, they would know that much of the appeal would have focused on previously undisclosed evidence unearthed by the SCCRC.