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Dear Mr Bollier,
Thank you for your open letter of 7 January to the First Minister regarding the Lockerbie atrocity. I have been asked to reply.
We have noted the contents of your letter. The conviction of Mr Al-Megrahi is a judicial matter and it would not be appropriate for the Scottish Government to either influence the process or to make comment.
The Scottish Government has always been as open and transparent as possible which is why, following the announcement last December that the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission has been unable to secure the necessary consents to release its statement of reasons in the Megrahi case due to the constraints of the current legislation, we now intend to bring forward legislation to overcome the problems presented by the current consent provisions.
This will allow the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission to publish a statement of reasons in cases where an appeal is abandoned, subject of course to legal restrictions applying to the Commission such as data protection, the convention rights of individuals and international obligations attaching to information provided by foreign authorities.
On the broader questions of an inquiry, 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. The Scottish Government would not have the powers for example to compel witnesses to appear or the authority to compel the release of evidence. However, as was indicated last year, the Scottish Government would be entirely happy to co-operate fully with any such properly constituted inquiry.
Many thanks for raising this matter.
Criminal Law and Licensing
0131 244 4222
10 February 2011