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Megrahi: You Are My Jury: The Lockerbie Evidence Paperback – 28 Feb 2012
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About the Author
John Ashton is a writer, researcher and TV producer. He has studied the Lockerbie case for 18 years and from 2006 to 2009 was a researcher with Megrahi s legal team. His other books include What Everyone in Britain Should Know about Crime and Punishment, with David Wilson, and What Everyone in Britain Should Know about the Police, with David Wilson and Douglas Sharp, both published by Blackstone Press.
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Towards the end the book summarises the issues under two headings - the legal process, and what actually happened. The second of these is full of uncertainties, whatever people try to pretend. The legal process is hardly less complex, but it is possible for the general public to take a clear view, even if the legal profession themselves signally failed to. There's irony in this, I suppose. We are asked to apply plain-Joe logic to the legal issues but to shun glib man-in-the-street opinions as to the actual events. Layer upon layer of expert technical and forensic findings have been slowly peeled away to expose a different picture from the one they had at Megrahi's trial. Only experts can refute other experts: where the lay public like myself can go wrong is if we jump the gun and believe analysis that turns out not to be final. In such technical matters the lawyers themselves are laymen, but given patience they can understand the issues eventually, and so can we. When it comes to the law, we are invited to act as a jury, applying thought and common sense to matters that we need to have explained to us but that we can evaluate, once explained, as well as the lawyers can. The senior advocate in this case advised Megrahi to opt for jury trial. Megrahi did not understand the matter and agreed to the format eventually adopted, a panel of three eminent Scottish Law Lords. Tout court, their stately Lordships returned a guilty verdict that any rational person can see is downright perverse. No jury could conceivably have convicted.
It was bad luck that the case was forced out of the headlines by 9/11, otherwise surely some of the nonsense would have been spotted and stamped on. Whether that would have altered the verdict is moot nevertheless. More effective defence strategy might have prevented Tony Gauci (later described by no less than Scotland's head prosecutor as being an apple short of a full picnic) from leaving the witness box almost unscathed. Nevertheless it did not take any judges to see the inconsistencies in his evidence. What to me defies belief is how the judges in their Statement of Reasons showed that they were fully aware of these very inconsistencies but still set that aside and based their verdict largely on Gauci's wayward statements. No doubt juries return perverse verdicts at times, but for a real snafu you need a few senior Law Lords. The doubts started to be voiced not long after the verdict, and one of the judges took to the public prints to proclaim that he was in no doubt that their verdict had been right in all respects. Note that `all respects', no qualifications or refinements, just right in all respects. I was reminded of a very famous trial, less significant from any valid point of view but a real headline-hogger many years ago when a young female `escort' was told that a certain eminent male denied her evidence. Said she `He would say that, wouldn't he?'
It comes down to attitudes. Impartiality is not a gift of God, it has to be strictly practised, and while checks and balances help a patient investigation like this to highlight startling cases of evidence suppressed, and hint at others, we are still left guessing to a great extent. One thing however is crystal-clear, and John Ashton repeats it several times - the onus probandi, the burden of proof, falls on the prosecution, and these Law Lords blatantly landed it on the defence. One point Ashton does not make is that while English law is based on Anglo-Saxon, Scottish derives from Roman and the verdict `non liquet' (not proven) is available. There is no way that guilt was proved beyond reasonable doubt. So how did their Lordships pull off this miscarriage? I don't know, nor does Ashton, but if nobody had been convicted there would have been hell to pay among parties who do not like to be crossed or thwarted, so perhaps the thing to do is to reassure oneself that one is right in all respects and see if one can maintain the pretence.
Why were so many Americans at the crash site so soon, and what were they doing? Why were they communing with the prosecutors? A UN observer Professor Koechler alleges political interference, and you can find his report by downloading it from Private Eye. I have offered a review that you can find by keying on e,g, Lockerbie Foot, and I wonder why the earlier findings of the award-winning journalist Paul Foot are not acknowledged. Why was Megrahi released on `compassionate' grounds? My guess - because a blatant travesty of justice had been perpetrated. Mr Romney and Mr McCain please note.
All is revealed in this book, published after the sad and public death of Mr Megrahi, but it is excessively long winded in places taking pages to say what could have been reported in line. I struggled to maintain my interest from front to back. As someone who has lived in 13 countries during his life, I am continuously astonished at how the British view life in just one dimension and with total conviction that their chosen dimension is right and righteous! This case illustrates why British justice is no better than anyone else's justice, if not, for want of probity, worse.
There are so many facts here with which to undermine the case against Mr Magrahi, - supported by other authors such as Private Eye at the time of the trail in 2000-2001 - that it is amazing the Scots judges jeopardized their own credibility to deliver a deliberately disceitful verdict.
There are many other victims and maybe Megrahi was another one of the many hundreds before him and Lockerbie
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