John Ashton made the claim at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, joined by other high-profile critics of the controversial case. Jim Swire, who lost his daughter in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, and Hans Kochler, the UN observer at the subsequent trial in the Netherlands, also took part before a capacity crowd.
al-Megrahi was sentenced to life for the atrocity which claimed 270
lives above Lockerbie and on the ground at the town. He was released
from prison on compassionate grounds after being diagnosed with prostate
cancer, which eventually led to his death in May.
Mr Ashton, who
recently published a book on the former Libyan intelligence officer,
said: "Megrahi's cancer was a gift from God for everybody involved that
had something to hide. It allowed his release, it allowed the final
stages of the rapprochement between the UK and Libya, and it allowed the
Scottish Government to allow him out of prison on a legal basis that
wasn't one laid down by the hated government in Westminster. It was a
tragedy for Megrahi but I think everybody else was punching the air."
course of events was a "political fix", he told the audience at the
venue in Charlotte Square. But he denied the trial was a "grand
conspiracy" involving a range of security services and leading all the
way to heads of state such as the US president. "What I say is, first
and foremost, that the judges got it wrong, for whatever reason, and the
Crown Office withheld evidence," he said. "I'm sure they did so in good
faith but their behaviour was utterly incompetent and shameful."
three men highlighted areas of evidence, heard under Scots law at Camp
Zeist in Utrecht, which they said undermine the case against Megrahi.
Key among them was a break-in at Heathrow Airport and discrepancies over
the identification of Megrahi in a shop in Malta.
Dr Kochler said
he cannot understand why Megrahi was found guilty but his alleged
co-conspirator was not. "If such an argument, if such an opinion of
court, was presented by a student in a seminar, he would not have passed
because it is full of contradictions," he said. "They got it wrong. But
the question is why?" He said the trial was politically motivated.
Swire, an outspoken critic of the trial, believes a bomb was taken on
board at London. "During the whole trial we did not know that Heathrow
Airport had been broken into 16 hours before Lockerbie happened, it
seemed to me very likely that was the technology that had been used," he
said. "The whole concept that the thing came from Malta via Megrahi's
luggage or anyone else's seemed to me far-fetched."
comments underlined the gulf between those who believe in Megrahi's
guilt and those who feel he was innocent or the victim of a miscarriage
of justice. American relatives in particular were angered by Scottish
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill's decision to free Megrahi under
compassionate release rules.
Source: Press Association