SNP plans law change over Lockerbie files

Lucinda Cameron,Pa
Sunday 23 October 2011 03:13

New laws to allow the publication of Lockerbie files are to be brought in by the SNP.

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was jailed for life for the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 which exploded in the skies above the Scottish town, killing 270 people.

The SNP wants to change the law to allow the publication of papers from the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), which said there were six grounds where it believed a miscarriage of justice may have occurred.

That paved the way for Megrahi's second appeal against his conviction, which he dropped shortly before he was released on compassionate grounds in August 2009, after he was given three months to live.

Currently the release of the SCCRC papers can be blocked by one or more of the parties who gave evidence to the review.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the SNP now plans to bring forward new legislation.

First Minister Alex Salmond said in February that he would change the law if the SNP won a second term.

Mr MacAskill told the Scottish Sunday Express: "This is something the new SNP Government will do in early course. We have always been as transparent as possible.

"And following the announcement last December that the SCCRC was unable to secure the necessary consents to release its statement of reasons in the Megrahi case due to current legislation we now intend to bring forward primary legislation to overcome those problems presented by the consent provisions."

Labour MSP Richard Baker said: "We need to know what Kenny MacAskill's reason for this change in the law is.

"He has always maintained that Megrahi was properly convicted by a Scottish court and that he had no reason to doubt his guilt.

"Now he appears to be casting doubt on his own assertion and if that is the case then Mr MacAskill needs to explain whether that influenced his decision to grant compassionate release.

"The documents that need to be released are the medical evidence that Mr Salmond relied on before he released Megrahi and the minutes of the meeting between himself and Jack Straw where the First Minister reportedly asked for a deal on the Prisoner Transfer Agreement.

"He doesn't need to wait or change the law to get these documents in the public domain."

He said that medical evidence on the condition of offenders is heard in court every day in Scotland and Megrahi's case should be no different.

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