Last updated: 27 February, 2012

Lockerbie bomber makes appeal claims in book

The Libyan man jailed for blowing up a Pan Am jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 has claimed he was urged to drop an appeal against his conviction to allow his early release from prison.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi makes the allegations in a new book, “Megrahi: You Are My Jury,” in which he claims he was “the innocent victim of dirty politics, a flawed investigation and judicial folly.”

The Scottish government strongly denied the claims, but opposition parties called for Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who took the decision to free Megrahi on compassionate grounds in 2009, to make a statement to parliament.

Megrahi, who has terminal cancer, remains alive in Libya despite having been said to have three months to live when he was released in August 2009.

Shortly before he was freed, he dropped his second appeal against his conviction.

The Scottish government has always denied suggestions it came under pressure from the British government to release Megrahi to smooth the way to oil deals for British energy giant BP in Libya.

Some relatives of the 270 victims of the atrocity also claim the book, written by researcher John Ashton who worked for Megrahi’s defence team, throws doubt on key evidence used to convict him.

Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was among the dead, said at the launch of the book that there were “mountains of evidence that doesn’t seem to be right and that needs to be examined.”

The book says MacAskill met a delegation of Libyan officials, including the current foreign minister, Abdelati al-Obeidi, 10 days before announcing the decision to free Megrahi.

In the book, Megrahi claimed: “After the meeting, the Libyan delegation came to the prison to visit me.

“Obeidi said that, towards the end of the meeting, MacAskill had asked to speak to him in private.

“Once the others had withdrawn, he stated that MacAskill gave him to understand that it would be easier to grant compassionate release if I dropped my appeal.

“He said he was not demanding that I do so, but the message seemed to me clear.

“I was legally entitled to continue the appeal, but I could not risk doing so. It meant abandoning my quest for justice.”

A government spokesman said: “We can say categorically that neither the Scottish government had any involvement of any kind in Mr Al-Megrahi dropping his appeal, or indeed any interest in it.

“That was entirely a matter for Mr Al-Megrahi and his legal team.”