21 May 2012

Cameron dismisses calls for new Lockerbie inquiry

Prime Minister David Cameron rejects calls for a new investigation into the conviction of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi in the wake of his death.

Prime Minister David Cameron refuses calls for a new inquiry into the conviction of bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi in the wake of his death.

Mr Cameron said the Lockerbie case was properly dealt with, adding that thoughts should be with the people who died in the “appalling terrorist act” and with their families.

Megrahi, 60, died of prostate cancer in a Libyan hospital on Sunday, his family said. He was the only person ever convicted of bombing PanAm Flight 103, which was flying from London to New York four days before Christmas.

He was convicted of 270 counts of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, but released on compassionate grounds after being diagnosed with cancer.

“I’m very clear that the court case was properly done and properly dealt with,” Mr Cameron said. “I’ve always been clear he should never have been released from prison.”

Live investigation

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond insisted the Lockerbie case remained a live criminal investigation and that authorities would rigorously pursue any new lines of inquiry.

“Megrahi’s death ends one chapter of the Lockerbie case, but it does not close the book,” he said, adding that the crown’s position has always been that Megrahi acted with others.

Megrahi, who always proclaimed his innocence, was controversially released from prison in August 2009 with an estimated three months to live.

In an interview with Channel 4 News News in November, he said: “The facts (about the Lockerbie bombing) will become clear one day and hopefully in the near future. In a few months from now, you will see new facts that will be announced.”

Justice for Megrahi

“I came to know him as a man much troubled by the injustice of what happened to him,” his solicitor, Tony Kelly, said in a statement. “Even after the appeal process was finished, when at home in Tripoli, he talked of little else. I am sorry that he did not live to see his name cleared.”

The Libyan’s death sparked renewed calls from campaigners for an independent inquiry into his conviction, with many raising doubts about his guilt and questioning if he acted alone in carrying out the atrocity.

“The crown and successive governments have, for years, acted to obstruct any attempts to investigate how the conviction of Mr Megrahi came about,” Robert Forrester, from the Justice for Megrahi group, said.

“Many unfortunates who fell foul of outrageous miscarriages of justice in the past have had their names cleared posthumously,” he said.

The group, which is seeking to have Megrahi’s conviction quashed, is supported by Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the bombing, as well as Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu.