Page last updated at 11:38 GMT, Sunday, 25 October 2009

Police review Lockerbie bomb case

Pamela Dix, who lost her brother, says a public inquiry should also be held

Detectives in Scotland are pursuing "several potential lines of inquiry" as they renew the investigation into the Lockerbie bombing case.

Prosecutors said Libyan Abdelbasset al-Megrahi, who was convicted in 2001 of the murder of 270 people but freed in August, was not working alone.

The fresh investigation is possible because Megrahi dropped his second appeal before being returned to Libya.

Victims' relatives welcomed the move but renewed calls for a public inquiry.

Forensic evidence

Families of British victims were told in e-mails from the Crown Office - Scotland's prosecuting authority - that a police review of the case had started.

Lindsey Miller, a senior Procurator Fiscal, wrote that police were following several new lines of inquiry, including a review of forensic evidence into the 1988 bombing.

The Crown Office in Scotland stressed there was "no question" of re-opening the case against Megrahi.

The Libyan, who remains the only person convicted of the atrocity, has terminal prostate cancer and was released from jail on compassionate grounds this summer.

But victims' families are keen to bring to light evidence that was likely to emerge in Megrahi's now-abandoned appeal case. They have urged investigators to make the renewed probe "meaningful".

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi at a hospital in Tripoli
Megrahi, who is terminally ill, was convicted of the bombing in 2001

Some 259 people on board Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York were killed in the bombing on 21 December 1988, along with 11 people on the ground in the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

Members of campaign group UK Families Flight 103 have delivered a letter to the UK prime minister asking for a full independent inquiry, and requesting a meeting with him.

In it they write: "We have waited patiently for almost 21 years to learn the full truth of what happened.

"Now we await Prime Minister Gordon Brown's response to our renewed calls for a full inquiry into all the circumstances of the bombing."

A spokeswoman said that since 1989 a succession of senior political figures had agreed in principle to an inquiry, but said it could not take place while a criminal investigation was ongoing.

"With the abandonment of Mr Megrahi's appeal against his conviction, there has been no resolution to any aspect of responsibility for the bombing," they said.

If [the investigation] is just a dodge to prevent an investigation into why the lives of those killed were not protected... I would be livid
Dr Jim Swire, relative and campaigner

UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme he had not spoken to Libya about the decision to review the investigation into the Lockerbie bombing.

On a public inquiry, Mr Miliband said: "We have always said that this was something that happened over Scottish soil, it was investigated by the Scottish authorities, it is right that they pursue the investigation on a criminal basis and if there is any suggestion of an inquiry that should be a matter for the Scots, because that's the way our system works."

A Scottish government statement said it would welcome a wide-ranging inquiry into the circumstances of the Lockerbie atrocity.

However, it said: "Given the international dimensions to this issue, the remit of any such inquiry goes well beyond the restricted remit and responsibilities of the Scottish government or Scottish Parliament, and would therefore have to be convened by those with the required powers.

"Scottish authorities would cooperate in full in any such inquiry, and our police and prosecution services have done an excellent job throughout the Lockerbie investigation."

Scene of the Lockerbie bombing
Prosecutors have always believed Megrahi did not act alone

Pamela Dix, whose brother Peter was killed in the bombing, said the announcement of the police review should be interpreted as a "good thing" but should not be used to replace a full public inquiry.

"Expectations around Megrahi's appeal were really quite high but hopes were profoundly dashed when the appeal was abandoned. The situation is unresolved and it is unfinished business," she said.

She added: "We do not know what the motivation for the bombing was, who ordered it, why was it carried out, how was it allowed to happen with the amount of information that the intelligence services had... concerning threats against American aviation.

"So not only do we not know what was the ultimate motivation for the bombing... but we know really very little about what was actively done to try and prevent [it]."

Dr Jim Swire, who has campaigned for a full inquiry into the bombing since his daughter Flora died in the atrocity, said: "I think that if they are really going to a meaningful investigation then that is all well and good and long overdue.

"But if it is just a dodge to prevent an investigation into why the lives of those killed were not protected then I would be livid."

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