Martin Hannan: No end in sight for Lockerbie

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The death of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was always going to produce mixed reactions. The only man yet to be convicted of the Lockerbie bombing endured a long and painful death and if you believe in divine retribution, he got some of his share here on Earth.

That will never be enough for people such as the prominent lawyer Len Murray, who shamefully described Megrahi as the 271st Lockerbie victim on Radio Scotland yesterday. What foul nonsense, what outrageous hypocrisy, what an insult to those killed on that dreadful night in December, 1988.

For even if Megrahi was innocent of the bombing, the conclusion must be that he went to jail for his sick country and mad leader, and he is therefore not innocent. For he never once gave details of what he knew about the plot, and as his later post-release claims hinted, he did know something but couldn’t or wouldn’t say in public, no doubt for fear of reprisals.

All those lining up to kick the Scottish Government for the early release of Megrahi on compassionate grounds also miss the point – Megrahi’s legal team were preparing a case for him to be released and due to precedent with previous murderers he would have got out anyway, as Kenny MacAskill as a lawyer well knew.

Megrahi also knew from the internet, if nowhere else, that if he got to Libya he would receive ground-breaking treatment that would possibly prolong his life by years – treatment sourced from the US, and unavailable to Scottish doctors because the UK Government’s medicines agency still has not passed it for use.

Personally, I believe Megrahi was a spy, that he was involved in the bombing, that he received as fair a trial as possible, that he was correctly convicted, that his first appeal was correctly disallowed, and that he was correctly jailed and correctly released on compassionate grounds, though we should have kept him under house arrest in Scotland.

I believe Megrahi coolly and calculatedly worked on gaining his freedom, and dropped his later appeal to get home to the drugs that would prolong his life. I also believe he duped Len Murray, Dr Jim Swire and many others as to the extent of his involvement in the bombing, just as a spy would do.

Anyone who believes in the process of Scottish justice and who has studied the trial would conclude that while Megrahi probably did not place the bomb on board Pan Am 103, he was nevertheless implicated in the plot.

The evidence of Megrahi’s involvement was circumstantial but the judges at the trial and the appeal decided it was convincing. The contradictions and lies spun by Megrahi and co-accused Al-Amin Kalifa Fhimah over the years were something which Megrahi’s supporters tend to gloss over – wonder why? Of course, if you believe in the conspiracy theory that Scottish justice is an ass, that the CIA and FBI duped our police and judges, that Kenny McAskill was in the pay of the UK Labour government, and that Megrahi and his boss Colonel Gaddafi were entirely innocent, then you will never be convinced that the bombing was what it was – a murderous attack on 270 innocent people by a dictator and a rogue state that is now gone.

Megrahi’s death should draw a line under the shameful political wranglings over Lockerbie, but it won’t. There are also people who think it was Iran, or Syria, or Palestinians, or other Libyans, who did the bombing.

So the calls for more investigations and a public inquiry will go on, and I actually agree with those people making those demands.

For I believe that as more information emerges, and even if more suspects are found, the Scottish legal system, the Scottish Government and Kenny McAskill will be found to have acted correctly and Megrahi and Gaddafi will finally be shown to be the vile murderers they were.

Taste of success

Sometimes in this job you get to hear good news stories, and I’m always pleased to pass on news that Edinburgh people have done well in any walk of life. Step forward James Lynch, baker of this parish, and the recipient of the national silver award and regional silver award at the Scottish Baker of the Year 2012 Awards, an astonishing achievement given he has only been in business for himself for ten months.

I happen to know that 32-year-old James, originally from Craigmillar, hasn’t always had it easy in life, but with assistance at the start from the likes of that kenspeckle local businessman Edgar Ramsay, he has made a success of the Edinburgh Bakehouse in Newington.

James runs the business alongside his uncle John and has been receiving compliments from many customers who travel from all across the Lothians not just to enjoy his award-winning rolls and bread, but also his delicious savoury pies and sweet cakes.

James said: “Considering it’s still our first year of business, it really is a dream to get these awards and tells us we are doing the right thing for our customers.”

Do let me know of any similar success stories.