Crown denies Lockerbie evidence claims

Claims by an MSP that police investigating the Lockerbie bombing failed to keep secure a key piece of evidence were denied by Crown officials today.

Christine Grahame said a fragment of the timer of the Lockerbie bomb left Scotland twice before the Lockerbie trial - once when it was taken to Germany, and then to Washington two months later, both times without the journey being logged.

Ms Grahame, SNP MSP for South of Scotland region, said this was done without the knowledge of the defence team or the then Lord Advocate, Lord Fraser.

She said Lord Fraser had said in a Dutch TV interview that as far as he was aware the fragment had always been in the UK.

"That leaves a very serious question mark over the central piece of evidence used to convict Mr Megrahi," said Ms Grahame.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi was convicted of murder and sentenced to life but was sent home to Libya in August on compassionate early release.

But the Crown Office dismissed her claim, saying: "There is absolutely nothing new in this misleading story."

It said the fact that fragment had been taken to Germany was known to the defence team at the trial and it was not disputed by the defence that the fragment was part of a particular type of timer.

"At no time during the investigation was the timer fragment ever outside the custody and control of the Scottish police officers, or forensic scientists at the Royal Armament and Research Establishment," it said.