Page last updated at 21:32 GMT, Friday, 2 October 2009 22:32 UK

Lockerbie judges deny 'pressure'

Adbelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, 9 September, 2009
Megrahi has posted further documents on an internet site

The three judges who jailed Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi in 2001 have denied they were under pressure to secure a conviction.

The denial came in a letter to the New York Times which had published the claim by US professor Dirk Vandewalle.

Elizabeth Cutting, public information officer for the Scottish judiciary, said she was authorised to speak for the three judges.

She said they had never, to the best of their knowledge, met Mr Vandewalle.

Compassionate grounds

The bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 resulted in the death of 270 people, many of them Americans.

Megrahi was convicted of the bombing in 2001, after a trial at a specially-convened court in the Netherlands.

The Scottish Government released Megrahi from Greenock Prison on 20 August and allowed him to return to Libya.

The decision to released the bomber on compassionate grounds caused outrage in the US.

In an article in the New York Times, Mr Vandewalle, associate professor of government at Dartmouth College, said: "I remember talking to one of the judges from the panel that convicted him.

"He said there was enormous pressure put on the court to get a conviction."

In her response, Ms Cutting said: "I'm authorised to say that to the best of their knowledge the three deciding judges on the panel - Lord Sutherland, Lord Coulsfield, and Lord MacLean - have never met Mr Vandewalle.

"Moreover, they assert that none of them has ever said what Mr Vandewalle reports one of them to have said.

"They were never under any pressure to return any particular verdict."

Meanwhile Megrahi, who still protests his innocence despite dropping his appeal against conviction, has put more material online in a bid to clear his name.

On his website, Megrahi concentrates on the crucial evidence of a Maltese shopkeeper who said he sold the Libyan clothes which were later found wrapped around the bomb which destroyed Pan Am Flight 103.

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