The following brief article appears in the current issue of Private Eye. My comments follow.
Disappointment among the relatives of those who died in the Lockerbie atrocity: Ed Miliband is not blocking their call for a public inquiry following the release “on compassionate grounds” of Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi in 2009.
The Labour leader has written to Pan Dix, whose brother was one of the 270 who died when Pan Am flight 103 was blown out of the skies in December 1988, saying that while criminal investigations continue “nothing should be done to undermine them”.
Miliband must be aware that the Levenson inquiry is doing an extraordinary job unearthing material that may aid a now very active criminal investigation, where hacks, police and a member of the armed forces have all been arrested. But how “active” is the Lockerbie investigation?
The Scottish Crown Office told the Eye that six legal staff “have been involved and continue to be involved”. But when asked whether anyone who had spoken to the two forensic experts who have cast doubt on the scientific evidence used to incriminate Megrahi, a spokeswoman said: “As the investigation remains live, it would not be appropriate to offer further comment.” In other words, er, no.
Miliband appears to be adopting the same position towards the UK’s biggest terrorist mass murder as the rest of the political establishment.
The fact that the Lockerbie investigation remains open was, of course, recently underlined by the Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland’s visit to Tripoli with FBI director Robert Mueller. Back in December, Mulholland said: “I think I would be failing in my duty if I didn’t properly seek to take advantage of the opportunity that has opened up with the fall of Gaddafi.” However, it seems that he does not regard it as a failure of duty to ignore the two scientists (Dr Jess Cawley and Dr Chris McArdle), whose work demonstrates that the circuit board fragment, PT/35b, could not have been from one of the 20 timers supplied to Libya by the Swiss firm Mebo. This new evidence destroys the case against Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, yet the Crown is acting like nothing has happened.