21 September 2010
last update 29 November
The following is a document - part history, part constitution, part resource list - for the Justice for Megrahi campaign (website). It was sent in by committee member Robert Forrester, and will have to go on their website as well once that's expanded.
This is also the best spot to post this link to all posts at this blog regarding (or tagged as) the JFM campaign.
Justice for Megrahi (JFM) is a single issue justice campaign group comprising the committee and the signatories. It maintains that on the basis of the evidence laid by the Crown before the three judges of the High Court of Justiciary at Kamp van Zeist (Netherlands), the 2001 conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie (Scotland) was a miscarriage of justice. Although the central plank of JFM’s position is concerned with the contention that no reasonable court could have convicted on the basis of the evidence as presented to the court, it also acknowledges other factors beyond this relating to, amongst other things, the fact that whilst the Crown was aware of evidence of value to the defence case before the trial, this evidence did not become public knowledge until after the verdict had been passed. JFM exists to address issues surrounding the investigation of the destruction of the aircraft and the subsequent trial of Mr al-Megrahi and Mr Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah. Its main objective is to campaign to have Mr al-Megrahi’s conviction quashed.
Justice for Megrahi (JFM) was founded in November of 2008 following the judicial hearing which set out the arrangements for Mr al-Megrahi’s second appeal. The appeal had been referred back to the Court of Appeal on a total of six grounds (largely concerned with the quality of evidence provided by the Crown’s star witness at Kamp van Zeist, Maltese shopkeeper Mr Tony Gauci) by Scotland’s expert and independent legal authority which has responsibility for referring cases to the Court of Appeal: the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC). The initial aim of JFM was to campaign, by means of a public petition to be submitted to Scottish Government (see: http://www.justiceformegrahi.com/) for the compassionate release of Mr al-Megrahi in light of his terminal medical condition. The founding committee members felt that the Crown in its decision to break Mr al-Megrahi’s appeal into sections to be spaced out over a considerable period of months was not giving due regard to the prisoner’s medical state, and that in prolonging the appeal thus, the appellant could well succumb to his illness before the appeal concluded, with the possible result that no judgement might be produced.
Following a private meeting between the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Mr Kenny MacAskill, and Mr al-Megrahi in HM Prison Greenock in August of 2009, Mr al-Megrahi dropped his second appeal and became the beneficiary of compassionate release, which brought about his repatriation to Libya. JFM takes no credit for having had any influence over the decision to avail Mr al-Megrahi of the provision, under Scots Law, of compassionate release. In September of 2009, following the prisoner’s release, JFM began its campaign to have the 2001 verdict overturned by means of a comprehensive public inquiry or other judicial means into the Lockerbie case covering:
• The Fatal Accident Inquiry into the downing of Pan Am 103.
• The police investigation of the tragedy.
• The subsequent Kamp van Zeist trial.
• The acquittal of Mr Fhimah and conviction of Mr Al-Megrahi.
• The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission's (SCCRC) referral of Mr Al-Megrahi's case to the Court of Appeal.
• The dropping of this second appeal and the compassionate release of Mr Al-Megrahi.
JFM additionally contends that the reputation of Scotland’s justice system has suffered a severe blow because of the Zeist verdict and that only through testing the validity of the verdict can this reputation be redeemed.
In support of JFM’s call for a full and open public inquiry, the group has lobbied the following bodies and individuals:
The President of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organisation
All missions with a seat at the General Assembly of the UN
The African Union
The League of Arab States
The Non-Aligned Movement
The President of Egypt
The Government of Libya
The Government of Malta
The Government of Cuba
The Government of Nicaragua
The Government of Venezuela
The Senate of the United States of America
The Government of Scotland
With the exception of the Maltese and Scottish Governments, none of the above has responded to JFM’s advances.
In September of 2010, JFM made representations to the First Minister of Scotland Mr Alex Salmond in the hope that the Scottish Government would establish an inquiry into the affair under the auspices of the Scottish Government citing the following reasons:
• The event occurred over and on Scottish territory.
• The case was investigated by a Scottish police force.
• The trial was conducted under Scots Law.
• Mr Al-Megrahi was convicted under Scots Law.
• Mr Al-Megrahi was imprisoned in a Scottish gaol.
• The SCCRC referred the second appeal to the Scottish Court of Appeal.
• Mr Al-Megrahi was given compassionate release by the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice.
In declining JFM’s submission, a Scottish Government spokesman stated the following as justification for the decision not to endorse the campaign’s request that Edinburgh set up an inquiry into the Lockerbie case:
“The Scottish Government do not doubt the safety of the conviction of al-Megrahi. Nevertheless, there remain concerns to some on the wider issues of the Lockerbie atrocity. The questions to be asked and answered in any such inquiry would be beyond the jurisdiction of Scots Law and the remit of the Scottish Government, and such an inquiry would, therefore, need to be initiated by those with the required power and authority to deal with an issue, international in its nature.”
JFM continues to maintain that more than adequate evidence required to establish that there was a miscarriage of justice at Kamp van Zeist falls well within the jurisdiction of Scotland. Amongst other things, JFM points to all documents and testimony pertaining to the investigation, the trial and the referral of Mr al-Megrahi’s conviction back to the Court of Appeal, on no fewer than six grounds, by the SCCRC. Moreover JFM asserts that in accordance with “current UK legislation as expressed by the Inquiries Act 2005 (c12), which indicates, in sections 1, 27 and 32, that the Scottish Government possesses more than adequate powers to open an inquiry into the Lockerbie case under its own auspices.”
It is JFM’s intention to maintain its strategy of lobbying governments, judicial bodies, international groups and individuals to realise its aims irrespective of whether Mr al-Megrahi is alive or dead.
Justice for Megrahi comprises the committee, made up of the remaining founding members, and the signatories who endorse the JFM campaign.
The current (August 2010) committee members:
Professor Robert Black QC
Mr Robert Forrester
Father Pat Keegans
Mr Iain McKie
Doctor Jim Swire
The current (August 2010) signatories:
Ms Kate Adie (Former Chief News Correspondent for BBC News).
Mr John Ashton (Co- author of: ‘Cover Up of Convenience’).
Mr David Benson (Actor/author of the play ‘Lockerbie: Unfinished Business).
Mrs Jean Berkley (Mother of Alistair Berkley: victim of Pan Am 103).
Mr Peter Biddulph (Lockerbie tragedy researcher).
Professor Robert Black QC (‘Architect’ of the Kamp van Zeist Trial).
Professor Noam Chomsky (Human rights, social and political commentator).
Mr Tam Dalyell (UK MP: 1962-2005. Father of the House: 2001-2005).
Mr Ian Ferguson (Co- author of: ‘Cover Up of Convenience’).
Mr Robert Forrester (Justice for Megrahi Committee).
Ms Christine Grahame MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament).
Mr Ian Hislop (Editor of ‘Private Eye’).
Fr Pat Keegans (Lockerbie parish priest on 21st December 1988).
Ms A L Kennedy (Author).
Mr Andrew Killgore (Former US Ambassador to Qatar).
Mr Adam Larson (Editor and proprietor of ‘The Lockerbie Divide’).
Mr Iain McKie (Retired Superintendent of Police).
Ms Heather Mills (Reporter for ‘Private Eye’).
Mr Charles Norrie (Brother of Tony Norrie: victim of UT 772).
Mr Denis Phipps (Aviation security expert).
Mr John Pilger (Campaigning human rights journalist).
Mr Steven Raeburn (Editor of ‘The Firm).
Mr James Robertson (Author).
Dr Jim Swire (Father of Flora Swire: victim of Pan Am 103).
Sir Teddy Taylor (UK MP 1964-2005. Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland).
Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Nobel Peace Prize Winner).
Whilst JFM has no formal constitution, the following general rules apply:
• JFM operates on the basis of mutual trust between the committee and the signatories that everyone who is party to the campaign will act in furtherance of its principal aims.
• All committee members are signatories.
• The signatories are free to adopt as active or passive a role as they wish.
• The committee takes ultimate responsibility for all material reaching the public domain.
• The committee will consult and keep the signatories fully informed of all JFM activities at all times.
• Anything published in the name of JFM is not authorised without prior approval by the committee and its signatories.
• JFM does not sanction having its name associated in conjunction with any policy which seeks retribution for any shortcomings in either the investigation into the destruction of Pan Am flight 103 or the Kamp van Zeist trial. Furthermore, JFM does not indulge in speculation that seeks to attribute blame for the destruction of the aircraft. JFM accepts that individual campaign members may have their own opinions and may wish to express them in public, JFM does not recognise this as being incompatible with the policy of the campaign insofar as it is clear that such views represent the individual’s position and not that of JFM.
• Additions to the list of signatories are normally made via invitation.
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