Police accused of dragging heels on Lockerbie
February 19 2014
POLITICIANS have launched a scathing attack on Police Scotland’s inquiry into alleged criminality during the original Lockerbie bombing investigation.
The Scottish Parliament’s justice committee will write to Chief Constable Sir Stephen House demanding answers, after accusing the force of “procrastinating and obfuscation” and attempting to “kick into the long grass” concerns about the conviction of Abdelbaset al Megrahi.
Christine Grahame MSP, committee convener, said she will also write to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) to find out if Megrahi’s family have asked for a new appeal.
The campaign group Justice For Megrahi (JFM) has called for a Scottish Government inquiry and alleged criminal wrong-doing by police in the original investigation into the bombing of Pan Am 103, in December 1988, which killed 270 people.
John Finnie, an independent MSP and former police officer, said: “The Scottish Government has no plans to launch an inquiry – I find that unfortunate. These are allegations of criminality in a mass murder case.”
The committee had been handed a letter from senior investigating officer, Detective Superintendent Stuart Johnstone, written to JFM, which was not able to determine how many officers were working on this inquiry, or what stage it was at.
Mr Finnie added: “I think this is a dismissive approach by an authority to JFM, and by definition to this committee.
“What we have seen is procrastination and obfuscation. I can’t see the Crown Office injecting any sense of urgency.”
The original petition had called for an inquiry into the conviction, but the SNP Scottish Government has made clear the only place it should be examined is in the courts.
Ms Grahame, an SNP MSP, told Mr Finnie: “You talk about obfuscation and procrastination, I call it kicking it into the long grass.
“It seems to me to be extraordinary in regards to the question how many officers are working on the inquiry, that (the letter states) I’m unable to provide you with definitive updates as it’s being reviewed by myself.
“How long does it take to work out how many officers are working on it and what stage it is at?
“I think we should write to the chief constable to ask him and require an answer within ten days.”
JFM welcomed the MSPs’ comments.
Robert Forrester, secretary of JFM, said: “I am absolutely delighted that the justice committee is going to be writing to Sir Stephen House.”
An SCCRC spokesman said: “At this stage, we do not have an active application in relation to Lockerbie.”
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “We have been in contact with the Justice for Megrahi Committee to bring them up to date with the appointment of a new senior investigation officer considering the complaint against the police and he will update them on developments as and when he can.”
A Crown Office spokesman said: “The allegations made by JFM are being considered by Police Scotland. It would be inappropriate to comment.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman added: “The Scottish Government does not comment on operational police matters.”