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Issue 1245

Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi
POLITICIANS on both sides of the Atlantic who have been outraged at the release of the mass-murdering “Lockerbie bomber” should take time to read the many hundreds of pages of evidence and argument in the case, expected to be released by his lawyers over the next few weeks.

Even the most vociferous critic might be left in some doubt about the conviction of Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, freed from a Scottish jail to die with his family in Libya, and suspect that the Libyan was the victim of the most dreadful miscarriage of justice.

The fact that the wrong man was in the dock was evident to those few independent observers who sat through the entire travesty of a trial in the Netherlands nearly 10 years ago. One of those was Dr Hans Kochler, appointed by the United Nations, who concluded: "There is not one single piece of material evidence linking [Megrahi] to the crime… the guilty verdict appears to be arbitrary, even irrational.”

Flawed and glaringly contradictory evidence
Kochler’s report was a damning indictment of the three Scottish trial judges who sat without a jury. The bulk of their judgment pointed to a not proven verdict – and then they convicted Megrahi anyway.

As Eye readers will know, there were alterations to crucial forensic exhibits supposedly linking Libya and Megrahi to the bomb, for which police and scientists could give no proper explanation; there was a succession of flawed and glaringly contradictory evidence from key witnesses, at least two of whom were paid by the CIA; there was evidence of the striking similarity to the modus operandi of a Syrian-backed Palestinian terrorist cell, operating out of Frankfurt, caught with devices equipped to bring down planes – one of which was missing. And then, of course, there was the crucial “identification” of Megrahi by Tony Gauci, the Maltese shopkeeper who sold the clothes identified as being packed in the suitcase with the bomb. In all his statements and evidence, Gauci only ever says that Megrahi bore a “resemblance” to the man who purchased the clothes – never that he was the man.

The judges performed a number of extraordinary leaps of logic to overcome these and all the other problems with the prosecution case, and it was evident to Dr Kochler even then that “foreign governments and secret governmental agencies”, directly or indirectly, influenced the trial.

More top stories in the latest issue:

Deliveroo, facing claims from cycle riders who claim they should be treated as employees, is paying ex-Tory insiders to help its defence of the "gig economy".

The government has made more empty promises to people with disabilities - this time to new claimants who have just been hit by a massive cut in benefits.

George Osborne can at least count on one MP to come to his defence over his job-juggling - a fellow Tory who has personal experience of the subject.

MEPs will effectively be offered a take it or leave it vote on Brexit in 2019 - but don't tell Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian scourge of Eurosceptics.

The battle between Number 10 and Prince Charles over the RAF Voyager jet, recently refitted at a cost of £10m, supposedly for prime ministerial outings.

A former senior policy adviser to Michael Gove is moving to a consultancy that works for a firm involved in Gove's botched probation privatisation.

Why have peers waved through plans to put David Cameron's £1.2bn National Citizen Service on to a statutory footing, despite a raft of concerns?

Even experienced Whitehall watchers have been taken aback by gaffe-prone Philip Rutnam's promotion to the top civil service job at the Home Office.

After years of resisting regulation of the private rented sector, the government is acting, with a plan to stop letting agents charging fees to renters.

Lobbying firm Portland has hired the diplomat who helped set up the Brexit department - though she remains a Foreign Office employee on unpaid leave.

To read more from issue 1245 you can order a copy from our archive of back issues here. For all the latest news you can subscribe here and have the magazine delivered to your home every fortnight.

Next issue on sale: 2nd May 2017.
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2nd May 2017
In This Issue private eye
Trump bombs Broadchurch... Thank God Trump now resembles the great presidents of the past, says everyone... Pravdeye: An apology... Boris Johnson writes exclusively... Livingstone's shock new historical claim... Manilow shock announcement... Liam Gallagher's Diary, as tweeted to Craig Brown

And also...

- Libel News: Justice Warby's hard line on Katie Hopkins' lawyers
- Tory gig guide: Deliveroo's defence of the "gig economy"
- Uber the top: When there's even too much drama for Rachel Whetstone, that's a problem

For all these stories you can buy the magazine or subscribe here and get delivery direct to your home every fortnight.

Private Eye Issue 1441