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Current Affairs, Politics & Current Affairs
Publication Date
03 October 2013
Paperback (also available as an eBook)
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Birlinn Limited

Scotland's Shame

Why Lockerbie Still Matters


eBook also available from the iBookstore

‘[A] slimmer assessment of the whole sorry saga than his previous study Megrahi: You Are My Jury, but no less damning’ – James Robertson

'[E]xplains why Lockerbie is such a stain on the Scottish justice system' – James Robertson, Scotsman

The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over the small Scottish town of Lockerbie in December 1988 was one of the most notorious acts of terrorism in recent history. Its political and foreign policy repercussions have been enormous, and twenty-five years after the atrocity in which 270 lost their lives, debate still rages over the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, as well as his controversial release on compassionate grounds by Scotland's SNP government in 2009. John Ashton argues that the guilty verdict, delivered by some of Scotland's most senior judges, was perverse and irrational, and details how prosecutors withheld numerous items of evidence that were favourable to Megrahi. It accuses successive Scottish governments of turning their back on the scandal and pretending that the country's treasured independent criminal justice system remains untainted. With numerous observers believing the Crown Office is out of control and the judiciary stuck in the last century, politicians must address these problems or their aspirations for Scotland to become a modern European social democracy are bound to fail.

John Ashton is a writer, researcher and TV producer. He has studied the Lockerbie case for 18 years and from 2006 to 2009 was a researcher with Megrahi's legal team. His other books include What Everyone in Britain Should Know about Crime and Punishment (with David Wilson) ,What Everyone in Britain Should Know about the Police (with David Wilson and Douglas Sharp), both published by Blackstone Press, and Megrahi: You Are My Jury - The Lockerbie Evidence, published by Birlinn (2012).


 Press Release  


For immediate release , 3 October 2013


For further information contact Jan Rutherford –

Tel: 0131 668 4371/0131 337 9724/ 07710 474 308 



Lockerbie 25th anniversary:


Will Scotland head for independence with a justice system the country can’t believe in? Will the politicians of Scotland continue to ignore 270 innocent victims?


Leading author joins voices with bereaved father to accuse Crown Office and Scottish Government of protecting murderers


At a press conference this morning, Dr Jim Swire, the father of a woman killed in the Lockerbie bombing, made his most outspoken attack on the Scottish authorities over their handling of the case. Speaking at the launch of a new book Scotland’s Shame: Why Lockerbie Still Matters, which marks the 25th anniversary of the bombing, Dr Swire said:


It is Scotland's shame that our judicial prosecution system is cowering behind its privileges in a brazen attempt to continue to block all reasonable allegations of its previous failures. In doing so it destroys its own credibility, demeans our country, and protects those who really were responsible for the murders of our families almost 25 years ago.”


He added:


“… of course there is still time for the SNP to announce an enquiry before this scandal undermines the referendum assuming it has not already done so and threatens independence. But this is much more than party politics and the 270 victims deserve more from our politicians.”


John Ashton, biographer of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, and author of this new book: Scotland’s Shame: Why Lockerbie Still Matters, brands the case the greatest scandal of Scotland’s post-devolution era.


At the press conference this morning he stated:


The conduct of the Scottish criminal justice system - and the Crown Office in particular - in the Lockerbie case has hugely undermined the public's trust in it. This raises a fundamental question: if people don't trust Scotland's foremost independent institution, will they trust an independent Scottish government? I believe that this is why the current government has tried to keep a lid on the scandal by refusing a public inquiry in to the Crown Office's conduct. It's a significant miscalculation by Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill, because they would only gain public trust by granting an inquiry.”


He also questioned Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland’s position:


Despite the fact that we now know that the Crown withheld numerous items of important evidence from Megrahi's defence team, the current Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland has refused to acknowledge that anything went wrong. Furthermore, he has failed to order the police to follow up new witness evidence that undermines the prosecution case. Instead he has engaged in bluster and distortions and has smeared his critics by branding them conspiracy theorists. I believe that, if he continues in the vein, he will no longer be fit for office.”


In this new book, Ashton argues that the evidence against Megrahi was so weak that the charges should never have been brought and that the guilty verdict against him was blatantly unreasonable. It also describes how the Crown Office withheld crucial evidence from Megrahi’s defence team and how successive Scottish governments have turned a blind eye to the scandal. It demonstrates that, as a consequence of these failings, the real bombers went free and the Libyan people were unjustly subjected to seven years of biting UN sanctions.



John Ashton will also release documents hithero unseen over the next few weeks:


These are the documents that the Crown didn't want you to see. I am making them public because, after 25 years, the authorities are still trying to keep a lid on this scandal.'


Notes to editors


1.     270 people were killed when Pan Am flight 103 was destroyed over Lockerbie on 21 December 1988.


2.     In 2001 Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was found guilty of the bombing by a panel of three senior law lords sitting at a specially constructed court at Kamp Zeist in The Netherlands. He remains the only man convicted of the murders. In June 2007 the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission referred his case back to the court of appeal on six grounds, one of which was that the trial court judgment was unreasonable. Four of the other grounds concerned the Crown’s failure to disclose evidence that would have helped Megrahi’s defence. He was released on compassionate grounds by justice secretary Kenny MacAskill on 20 August 2009 and died in Tripoli on 20 May 2012.


3.     John Ashton was the author of Megrahi’s biography Megrahi: You are my Jury, which was published in February 2012. From 2006 to 2009 he worked as a researcher with Megrahi’s legal team on the preparation of his appeal against conviction. The book revealed the full extent of the Crown’s failure to disclose important evidence, and presented new evidence that destroyed the forensic basis of the case against Megrahi.


4.     John Ashton and Dr Jim Swire are both available for.


5.     Scotland’s Shame: Why Lockerbie Still Matters by John Ashton is published by Birlinn Ltd (£7.99pbk) on 3 October 2013.


For further information contact Jan Rutherford, Publicity Director, Birlinn Ltd – Tel: 0131 668 4371/0131 337 9724/ 07710 474 308  Email:


1 Most useful customer reviews (see all reviews):
David Howard
Oct 6, 2013
The selective use of polygraphs by corrupt FBI officials must stop! No one is above the law, including FBI Director Robert Mueller, who conspired to cover up the Pan Am Flight 103 incident. Google "Quadri-Track ZCT"

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