This is John Ashton's new book on why the Lockerbie affair is still so important as the 25th anniversary of the bombing approaches. It is a more accessible, less detailed work than his magisterial Megrahi: You are My Jury which appeared in 2012, and as such is a relatively straightforward summary of the whole sorry saga, ideal for readers with little knowledge of the subject. But it is also essential reading for those already well versed in the events. One would like to hope that it would also be read by politicians, civil servants, government ministers, policemen and most of all the Crown Office, which comes in for well deserved criticism on many pages of the book.
Two chapters in particular are a reminder of why the wrongful conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi leaves such a stain on the Scottish justice system. The first, 'A Nation Condemned', details the appalling consequences for Libya of the sanctions imposed on it by the USA and UK through the UN. The second, 'The Crown out of Control', depicts the Crown Office (Scotland's sole prosecuting authority, which should be a completely impartial guardian of the delivery of justice) as being more concerned with saving face and protecting its own reputation than with recognising the massive embarrassment that its behaviour over the Lockerbie affair represents.
Sooner or later the political and legal establishments of Scotland are going to have to acknowledge what is now generally accepted by the public: that the Lockerbie investigation, prosecution, trial and conviction were a catalogue of errors at best, and of deliberate cover-ups and dodgy manipulations of the evidence at worst. Meanwhile, this book shines yet more light on this shameful business.