Text of book launch press release

Lockerbie 25th anniversary: Bereaved father accuses Crown Office and Scottish Government of protecting murderers

 The greatest scandal of the post-devolution era “could threaten Scottish independence”

The father of a woman killed in the Lockerbie bombing today makes his most outspoken attack on the Scottish authorities over their handling of the case. Speaking at the launch of a new book Scotland’s Shame: Why Lockerbie Still Matters, which marks the 25th anniversary of the bombing, Dr Swire will say:

It is Scotland’s shame that our judicial prosecution system is cowering behind its privileges in a brazen attempt to continue to block all reasonable allegations of its previous failures. In doing so it destroys its own credibility, demeans our country, and protects those who really were responsible for the murders of our families almost 25 years ago.”

The book, by the biographer of the Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, John Ashton, brands the case the greatest scandal of Scotland’s post-devolution era. It argues that the evidence against Megrahi was so weak that the charges should never have been brought and that the guilty verdict against him was blatantly unreasonable. It also describes how the Crown Office withheld crucial evidence from Megrahi’s defence team and how successive Scottish governments have turned a blind eye to the scandal. It demonstrates that, as a consequence of these failings, the real bombers went free and the Libyan people were unjustly subjected to seven years of biting UN sanctions.

In his foreword to the book, Dr Swire writes:

It has become increasingly difficult not to despise those who still try to defend the indefensible. Most of them do this out of ignorance, but some because they are told to do so, some to enhance their careers, some to conceal their own shame, some to seek greater power, some to make money, others because they genuinely see it as their duty to toe the official line.

Dr Swire, who was born and raised in Skye, also argues that the case could have a bearing on next year’s independence vote. He writes:

Scottish justice survived the Act of Union with England with its independence intact: perhaps since then it has been a talisman of Scotland’s reputation as an independent nation capable of running its own affairs. If that is so, Scotland – my country – would do well to address the apparent problem of the impenetrable arrogance of her prosecuting authorities that seem to have blighted her justice system ever since it became clear that the Lockerbie trial had been defective.

The problem must be addressed, and done so with transparency, for it will not just go away. It is best addressed from within Scotland herself and may well be a factor which will block independence until it is resolved, for an independent community with an obscured and mistrusted justice system can never be a healthy community. We would wish healing, not harm, for Scotland and all her people, but the arrogant refusal to consider fault has dragged on so long and is so great a threat now to her reputation in the world that the cure is not likely to be found within the timescale now scheduled for the independence debate. It is to be hoped that the refusal of the current Scottish government to intervene with an independent inquiry, despite clearly having the powers required to do so, is not driven by motives of party advantage. The terrible events of Lockerbie deserve far greater respect than that.”

John Ashton will also release documents hitherto unseen:

These are the documents that the Crown didn’t want you to see. I am making them public because, after 25 years, the authorities are still trying to keep a lid on this scandal‘.

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