Sunday, February 19, 2006

McKie case linked to Lockerbie; Scottish justice controlled by the CIA? Reputation of Scottish justice in ruins?

TWO American fingerprint experts were warned by the FBI to back off from the Shirley McKie case for fear it would scupper the trial of the Lockerbie bombers.

Lockerbie may have been about drug smuggling by the CIA. The evidence at the Lockerbie trial may have been faked. There is a suspicion that top people within the Scottish police, legal profession and government were persuaded by the CIA and FBI to take part in a cover-up of CIA crimes.

In Scotland, at about the same time as the Lockerbie trial, there was a case, involving finger-print evidence, called the McKie case.

What links the two cases. Was evidence faked in both the McKie fingerprint case and the Lockerbie bomb case?

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The following is extracted from a news story in Scotland on Sunday, 19 February, 2006: Cover-up, conspiracy and the Lockerbie bomb connection

Cover-up, conspiracy and the Lockerbie bomb connection

By EDDIE BARNES, POLITICAL EDITOR

Scotland on Sunday has been passed documents (about the McKie case) obtained under Freedom of Information legislation.

(Scotland on Sunday has seen) an e-mail written by a senior official in the Scottish Executive Justice Department, Sheena Maclaren, to another senior Justice Department official, John Rafferty...

On September 20, 2001, Maclaren wrote: "James Mackay, then DCC Tayside police, was appointed to lead the investigation of the issues relating to fingerprint evidence. On 3 August 2000, we were informed that investigations so far suggested that the evidence given in court by... SCRO (Scottish Criminal Record Office) fingerprint personnel was 'so significantly distorted that without further explanation, the SCRO identification likely amounts to collective manipulation and collective collusion'."

Mackay's explosive report into the McKie case that August came three months after Colin Boyd began the prosecution of Libyan suspects Abdelbaset Al Megrahi and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah. The eyes of the world were focused on Scottish justice. What would it have said of that system if - just as the Crown was trying to convict the bombers - it emerged that fingerprint officials had been involved in "criminality and cover-up"?

Boyd strenuously denies that Lockerbie has any relevance to his judgments regarding the McKie case. When Iain McKie first raised the issue in 2000, Crown Office officials declared that Lockerbie "had not affected in any way the response from this or indeed any other department of the Scottish Executive to the issues raised by you."

But there is clear proof that senior justice chiefs had a stake in both cases; SCRO director Harry Bell, for example - whose agency was coming under such scrutiny - was a central figure in the Lockerbie investigation, having been given the key role in the crucial Maltese wing of the investigation, and given evidence in court.

Today's revelation that two American fingerprint experts who savaged the SCRO over the McKie case were asked by the FBI to "back off" suggests that plenty of people were aware of the danger that the case could undermine the Lockerbie trial.

Former MP Tam Dalyell - who has long campaigned on the Lockerbie case - said: "I have always felt that there was something deeply wrong with both the McKie case and the Lockerbie judgment. It is deeply dismaying for those of us who were believers in Scottish justice. The Crown Office regard the Lockerbie case as their flagship case and they will go to any lengths to defend their position."

The pressure for a full public inquiry is now growing day by day.

It is understood that, this week, the Scottish Parliament's Justice 1 Committee will consider launching a full parliamentary inquiry. One thing is sure: this murky affair looks set to rock the foundations of Scotland's criminal justice system.

• SCOTLAND on Sunday revealed last week that justice officials were warned six years ago by police of "cover-up and criminality" in the Shirley McKie fingerprint case. Our story was picked up across Scotland, leading to calls for a judicial inquiry from MSPs.

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson is now under growing pressure to act over the scandal but - nearly two weeks on - has so far refused to talk once about why ministers decided to offer £750,000 to Shirley McKie, just as she was about to take her case to court.

Lord Advocate Colin Boyd is also in the firing line, over his decision not to press charges against fingerprint experts, despite the allegations of criminality. Jim Wallace, Justice Minister when the McKie scandal broke, is also under fire. He was aware of the allegations but failed to act. First Minister Jack McConnell is under pressure to call a public inquiry.

• TWO American fingerprint experts were warned by the FBI to back off from the Shirley McKie case for fear it would scupper the trial of the Lockerbie bombers.

David Grieve, the senior fingerprint expert at Illinois State police, said that FBI agents pleaded with him to stay silent, fearing the case "would taint the people involved in Lockerbie".

Campaigners for the McKie family last night claimed that the plea to "let everything drop" shed new light on why the former policewoman was denied justice. They believe that the Crown was determined to protect the reputation of the Scottish justice system at a time when it was coming under international scrutiny.

The astonishing claims come as Scotland on Sunday reveals that:

• former justice minister Jim Wallace was aware six years ago that fingerprint experts at the Scottish Criminal Records Office (SCRO) were accused of "collective manipulation and collective collusion", yet they were allowed to return to work two years later;

• MSPs are preparing to launch their own parliamentary inquiry into the scandal to get to the truth of the allegations.

Wertheim and Grieve, both internationally respected fingerprint experts, were central in clearing McKie in 1999 when she was accused of having left her fingerprint at a crime scene. The case left the Scottish justice system open to claims its fingerprint evidence was unsafe. FBI officers took both aside before the Lockerbie trial in the Hague began in February 2000.
Grieve, the senior fingerprint expert at Illinois State Police, said: "I was asked not to mention anything about the case and not to publicise it because we had to think about the higher goal, which was Lockerbie."

He also claims that the FBI had been visited weeks earlier by an official from the SCRO.

"I was pulled aside and given a lecture on the importance of not embarrassing a 'sister agency' which had 'very important and high profile' cases pending of an international significance. I knew the reference was to the Pan-Am bombing," he said.

Wertheim, a fingerprint expert of 20 years' experience, added: "I was at the FBI for a meeting and one of their people approached me and made the suggestion that I let everything drop."
Iain McKie, Shirley McKie's father, said yesterday that he believed Lockerbie provided a motive for the 'cover up' over his daughter's case.

He said: "I have always suspected the Lockerbie connection, but when I put it to the Lord Advocate, I got nothing from them. I could never understand why they treated my daughter like that. Lockerbie would give them that motivation."

Former MSP Mike Russell, who has campaigned for the McKie family, said: "This new information suggests the context for the Shirley McKie miscarriage of justice. It suggests that this context is much bigger than previously thought.

"It places the Lord Advocate (Colin Boyd) in a completely untenable position and he too must now be considering his future. If he was influenced by this [Lockerbie] then he cannot continue as Lord Advocate."

SNP MSP Alex Neil, another campaigner for the McKies, said: "A lot of people think that there was pressure put on the FBI by the Scottish law authorities which maybe explains some of the bizarre decisions taken by the Lord Advocate."

The link between Lockerbie and the McKie case goes deeper as several police chiefs and prosecutors were involved in both. The director of the SCRO at the time of the allegations of criminality, Harry Bell, was one of the key police officers whose evidence led to the conviction of Abdel-baset Al Megrahi.

Lord Advocate Colin Boyd led the Lockerbie trial, securing a conviction in January 2001. In September of that year, despite the evidence presented by the Mackay report, he decided not to prosecute the SCRO officers over the McKie case.

The SCRO admitted yesterday that its officials had visited the FBI in 1999 and 2000, but insisted the trips had nothing to do with the McKie case.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Crown Office strongly denied that the decision not to prosecute the SCRO officers had been taken with Lockerbie in mind. She said: "SCRO was not involved in any way with fingerprinting in the Lockerbie case, the evidence of which was never disputed at all."

Boyd declared on Friday that he had decided not to prosecute the four SCRO officials because of "conflicting" evidence from fingerprint experts. He added that a prosecution would have to prove criminal intent.

Also from Scotland on Sunday: Cover-up, conspiracy and the Lockerbie bomb connection

Scottish fingerprinting has become a laughing stock around the world...

Independent experts have also been highly critical about SCRO's crime-scene investigation work, described by Bayle as the worst he's ever seen. The organisation must be forced to acknowledge its many flaws.

There is also a pressing need to break the strong link between the SCRO and the police service, especially Strathclyde Police. The current director, John McLean, was an Assistant Chief Constable with the force. His predecessor, Harry Bell, was a Det Chief Superintendent there.


Agencies involved in detecting and solving crime, the police, forensic examiners, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, tend to form bonds and pull together. But that has to be resisted as it undermines the necessary independence of each of those bodies.

Scientists and analysts who examine crime scenes for fingerprints, traces of DNA and any other clues should simply be concerned with finding the best evidence and passing it on. They should not become part of the drive to secure the conviction of an accused person. It has been suggested to Scotland on Sunday that SCRO experts have in the past been given targets to meet in making positive identifications. That should never happen. A print either matches a crime scene mark or it does not.

International experts have proved the mark in Marion Ross's home was not left by McKie; five colleagues of the four who insisted it was refused to support their identification; an independent inquiry by senior police officers found evidence of criminality on the part of the SCRO. Yet the organisation, with no dissent from the Executive or the Crown Office, continues to stand by its discredited experts. It does not bode well for Scottish justice.

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The following is from The Sunday Herald

http://www.sundayherald.com/54191

UK fingerprint expert: evidence more likely to be fabricated than incompetent

By Liam McDougall, Home Affairs Editor

THE pressure on Jack McConnell to order a judicial inquiry into the Shirley McKie case became unbearable last night after a slew of fresh forensic evidence was unearthed by the Sunday Herald.

Investigations by this newspaper have uncovered damning material alleging “collective manipulation of evidence” and “fabrication” on the part of fingerprint officers at the Scottish Criminal Record Office (SCRO) in Glasgow.

The allegations follow revelations last week that a police inquiry led by James Mackay, then deputy chief constable of Tayside Police, found evidence in 2000 of “criminality and cover up” among SCRO experts.

In a confidential precognition of Mackay he revealed his “surprise” that there was no prosecution against “four experts (and perhaps others) at SCRO in light of the sufficiency of evidence of criminality involved”.

However, for the first time, new material shows that the allegations of criminality against experts go beyond the erroneous McKie print – found at the murder scene of Kilmarnock woman Marion Ross in 1997. It now makes the position held by SCRO experts – that they made no mistakes in the Ross investigation – utterly untenable.

Previously unseen reports, compiled by British and US fingerprint experts for the lawyer Cameron Fyfe, allege that a second SCRO fingerprint identification in the case, which led to the conviction of David Asbury for Ross’s murder, was “pure fabrication”.


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