Page last updated at 12:15 GMT, Thursday, 22 May 2008 13:15 UK

Concern at Lockerbie lawyer claim

Megrahi
Megrahi has been granted the right to a second appeal

The solicitor for the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing has described as "preposterous" a suggestion that part of his appeal could be held in private.

It follows national newspaper claims the appeal court was to be asked to appoint security-cleared lawyers to represent Abdelbasset Ali al-Megrahi.

His lawyer said the move was against his right to a fair hearing.

The UK Advocate General said it would be up to the court to decide if any future hearings were in private.

It had been suggested that the specially appointed lawyers could represent Megrahi in a hearing to decide whether secret documents should be disclosed to him.

The court hearings next week will take place in public and it will be entirely a matter for the court whether any future hearings in private are required
Crown Office spokesperson

His solicitor, Tony Kelly, told BBC Scotland it would compromise the entire process under which Megrahi is appealing against his conviction for the 1988 murder of 270 people.

The Crown Office confirmed three days had been set aside next week to hear proposals from the Advocate General - representing the UK Government - on arguments on the issue of Public Interest Immunity.

"The claim of Public Interest Immunity (PII) in the Lockerbie appeal has been taken by the UK Government, not by the Lord Advocate," said a spokesperson.

"The UK Government is represented by the Advocate General.

"The court hearings next week will take place in public and it will be entirely a matter for the court whether any future hearings in private are required."

The spokesperson added that Megrahi's lawyers would be fully involved in next week's hearing and said it would be inappropriate to comment further.

A statement from the Advocate General said the issues would be addressed in detail at next week's hearing.

"That hearing will be held in public and it will be entirely for the court to decide whether any future hearings in private will be required," it said.

"It is inappropriate to speculate on legal proceedings which are before the court."

Secret documents

Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of blowing up Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

The Libyan has already lost one appeal against conviction but was granted a second by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.

His legal team has made a number of attempts to have secret documents handed over which it claims could assist his appeal.

The UK Advocate General has argued that the disclosure would harm the international relations and national security interests of the UK Government.

However, Megrahi's team has claimed that the Lord Advocate in Scotland need not uphold the immunity from disclosure.


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