Scottish police to launch new inquiry into Lockerbie

Review of forensic evidence provides 'several lines' of investigation into 1988 bombing of airliner

Scottish police have launched a new investigation into the Lockerbie bombing, saying they are reviewing forensic evidence and have "several potential lines of inquiry".

Heading the investigation is Detective Chief Inspector Michael Dalgleish, a member of the original team which brought the case against Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the only man to be convicted of the bombing.

Dumfries and Galloway Police are understood to have a further four detectives working full-time on the re-examination of all the evidence, which was ordered after Megrahi dropped his second appeal against conviction.

A total of 270 people were killed when Pan Am Flight 103 from Heathrow to New York exploded over the town of Lockerbie, four days before Christmas in 1988.

Relatives of the victims were informed of the new inquiry by an email from the Crown Office in Scotland, The Sunday Telegraph said.

Lindsey Miller, a senior Procurator Fiscal involved in preparing evidence for Megrahi's trial, wrote: "Throughout the investigation, we have, at various times, taken stock of the evidence as a whole with a view to identifying further lines of inquiry that can be pursued. Now that the appeal proceedings are at an end a further review of the case is under way. Please be assured that this is not simply paying lip service to the idea of an 'open case'."

Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter, Flora, was killed in the bombing, gave the new inquiry a cautious welcome. "If they are really going to do a meaningful investigation then that is all well and good and long overdue," he said. "But if it is just a dodge to prevent an investigation into why the lives of those killed were not protected, I would be livid."

Christine Grahame, a Scottish Nationalist MSP, who has argued for a full inquiry into the bombing, said: "I'll wait to see the remit of this. For not one moment do I think we're going to have a root-and-branch examination. There are too many people whose professional reputations might be tainted if we were to chip away all the layers and get to the truth."

Megrahi, 57, a former Libyan intelligence officer, was convicted of murder in 2001 by a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands, and was jailed for a minimum of 27 years.

He lodged two appeals against his conviction, having maintained his innocence, but dropped the second appeal in August before Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Secretary, released him from Greenock Prison on compassionate grounds. Megrahi, who has advanced prostate cancer, returned to Libya.