Lockerbie bombing: No charges after five-year probe

Officials inspect the wreckage of Pan Am flight 103 December 21, 1988 in Lockerbie. (Photo by George DeKeerle/Getty Images)
Officials inspect the wreckage of Pan Am flight 103 December 21, 1988 in Lockerbie. (Photo by George DeKeerle/Getty Images)
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A long-running police investigation into allegations about the prosecution of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing has concluded there was no criminality.

Police Scotland had been examining allegations made by the Justice for Megrahi (JFM) group about the prosecution of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi.

Megrahi, who died in 2012 after being controversially released from prison three years earlier, is the only person to have been convicted over the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

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Officers started a probe – Operation Sandwood – in February 2014 after JFM made a number of complaints against prosecutors, police and forensic officials, alleging attempts to pervert the course of justice ahead of Megrahi’s trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands 18 years ago.

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Police Scotland has now concluded its investigation, which looked at nine allegations made by JFM, and said it found no evidence of criminality.

A dedicated team of detectives has spent the last four years examining the allegations and their findings have been validated by a senior QC, entirely unconnected with and acting independently from the Crown Office, Police Scotland said.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “Officers carried out a methodical and rigorous inquiry using our major investigation framework under the direction of an experienced Senior Investigating Officer. I have had oversight of the investigation since its outset.

“The substance of the allegations were diverse in nature and the sheer scale and complexity of the task has resulted in a particularly protracted enquiry which has taken longer than originally thought.

“However, this reflects the hard work and professionalism of the officers involved and their meticulous approach to the inquiry. The findings and conclusions have been validated by a senior Queen’s Counsel, entirely unconnected with and acting independently from the Crown Office.

“I have written to the Lord Advocate to inform him Operation Sandwood is now complete and that there is no evidence of criminality and therefore no basis to submit a standard prosecution report.”

He added: “The material collated during the inquiry and the findings and conclusions reached have relevance to both the ongoing live investigation and the potential appeal against conviction lodged on behalf of the late Mr Megrahi. The materials have therefore been handed to Crown Office officials.”

In a statement, JFM said: “We welcome Chief Constable Livingstone’s announcement that, while there will be no criminal prosecutions following from the Police Scotland inquiry, the findings of that inquiry will be of importance to many of the issues being considered by the SCCRC.

“As the 30th anniversary of this tragedy approaches, we feel there is a very real possibility that the truth behind the UK’s worst-ever terrorist outrage will finally be revealed. We have confidence that the Scottish criminal justice system will welcome this light that has now been shone into the darkness that surrounds Lockerbie and will ensure that the truth is finally revealed to those who lost their loved ones on December 21 1988.”

Aamer Anwar, the lawyer representing Megrahi’s family, added: What is of significance today is that Police Scotland appear to have uncovered material that they believe would be of importance to our pending application for a miscarriage of justice appeal with the SCCRC.

“Failure to disclose material to the defence has been a constant criticism of the Crown made by the Lockerbie defence over the years, accordingly I will be requesting that the Lord Advocate disclose all relevant material to our legal team as a matter of urgency,”