By G.A.Ponsonby

First Minister Alex Salmond has called for the publication of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) report questioning the conviction of Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, the man known as the Lockerbie Bomber.

In a statement issued earlier today the First Minister said that it was in everyone’s interests that the report be made available in its entirety as soon as possible.

Mr Salmond said:

"It makes it easier to ensure that the whole statement of reasons is available publicly as soon as possible, which is something I have wanted to see for some time and which the Scottish government has been doing everything we can to enable.

"It is important that everyone is able to read the SCCRC report in its entirety, rather than the selective and partial accounts of its contents which have made their way into the public domain through various media reports, and this statement from Scotland's senior law officer is an important step forward in securing full and proper publication."

The calls from the First Minister follow assurances by Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland that members of the SCCRC would not be prosecuted for publishing the report.

In a move welcomed by Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill, Mr Mulholland said that while it was an offence for the commission to disclose information obtained in its investigations, he considered "it would not be in the public interest to prosecute, given the selective publication" already in the public domain.

The conviction of Mr Megrahi in a specially convened court in the Netherlands has been called into question ever since it was reached in January 2001, with many observers believing it a miscarriage of justice.

The SCCRC investigation unearthed six areas it claimed were sufficient to refer the case to appeal.  However in a move that is steeped in controversy Mr Megrahi dropped his appeal just prior to his release on compassionate grounds in 2009.

The recent publication of a book ‘Megrahi - You are My Jury - The Lockerbie Evidence’, by John Ashton re-ignited the controversy over the trial verdict and further evidence was revealed that cast doubt on the conviction.

Mr Ashton claims in the book that that the timer used in the explosive device that destroyed Pan Am flight 103 could not have come from Libya and that a Frankfurt based Syrian terrorist cell with links to PFLP-GC leader Ahmed Jibril may have been responsible.

In 2007, the Herald newspaper reported that an electronics engineer who was employed by the timer manufacturer, MEBO, admitted to planting the evidence.

According to the 2007 report:

Ulrich Lumpert, formerly an electronics engineer with Mebo AG, Zurich, has signed an affidavit admitting he committed perjury before the Scottish Court in the Netherlands.

In his affidavit he states that he stole a handmade sample of an "MST-13 Timer PC-board" from Mebo in Zurich and handed it over, on June 22 1989, to an "official person investigating the Lockerbie case."

He further states that the fragment of the timer, cut into two pieces for "supposedly forensic reasons," which was presented in court stemmed from the same piece.

He further states that when he became aware that this piece was used for an "intentional politically motivated criminal undertaking" he decided, out of fear for his life, to keep silent on the matter.

The calls from Mr Salmond follow the refusal of the UK Government to resolve problems caused by the data protection laws that were prohibiting publication of the SCCRC report.

The intervention of the Lord Advocate and Mr Salmond will be seen by many as an open invitation to short cut this blockage and an attempt by the Scottish Government to publish as much information as possible relating to the Lockerbie atrocity.

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