* *     BOOK     * *
* * *  TICKETS  * * *

New Lockerbie Play Claims Justice Secretary Freed Megrahi To Stop Scots Being Killed

One of the reasons Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill freed the Lockerbie Bomber in 2009 was to prevent Scots being murdered in terrorist reprisals.

That’s the theory in a new play about Lockerbie that’s being staged this weekend by Tryst in Stirling.

“This was a brave and far-sighted decision and in my view Mr MacAskill deserves praise and thanks for it,” said Alan Clark, the author and director of The Lockerbie Bomber. I have no doubt his action prevented reprisals and a potential loss of life to innocent Scots. While Mr Al Megrahi was freed “on compassionate grounds”, I actually believe it was concern for his fellow Scots that drove that controversial decision.

“I believe he knew that if Megrahi, suffering from advanced terminal prostate cancer, were allowed to die an “innocent” man in a Scottish prison, he would be seen as a martyr by fanatics and terrorist reprisals would inevitably follow throughout Scotland. We’d already had a foretaste of that with the attempted bombing at Glasgow Airport in 2007.

“Mr MacAskill, and perhaps more importantly his Crown Office, police and civil service advisers, must also have known that, following the determination by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, a new appeal by Megrahi would be both successful and devastating. It would shine an unwelcome light into some murky corners of the Scottish criminal justice system – evidence fabricated, evidence withheld, witnesses paid millions for their testimony. So the play makes the pretty obvious point that there was more than compassion at work here: to avoid the ridicule of the Scottish legal system in the eyes of the world and prevent any bloodshed in Scotland, we had to get him out of Greenock Prison and back to Libya fast. In the play, the question is asked: was freeing Megrahi “on compassionate grounds” in fact a fig leaf to keep Scots safe and protect our justice system?”

The play is set in the present day and looks at the bombing from three different perspectives – the victims’ families, journalists investigating the case, and the UK and US security services engaged in covering up what happened. The drama, which explores this veil of secrecy, links Grangemouth, Greenock, Glasgow and Guantanamo Bay in the gritty and fast-moving 75-minute piece.

“Almost twenty-four years on, Lockerbie still looms large over Scotland and there are still unanswered questions over what happened that night and who is ultimately responsible for two hundred and seventy deaths. As one of the characters in the play says: "Sooner or later, to protect itself, the Scottish Government will have to cast the Crown Office adrift and abandon the fiction that Megrahi’s conviction is safe.""

Iain McKie, a member of the Justice for Megrahi committee, has seen the drama. He said: “This is a challenging and thought-provoking play that brings the human suffering and political chicanery behind the tragedy of Lockerbie to vivid and dramatic life. It should be required viewing for every Scot as a reminder of a disaster that has become an indelible stain on the reputation of Scotland and its justice system."

The Lockerbie Bomber, performed by Tryst touring ensemble The Nugget Theatre Company, is on at The Macrobert Playhouse Theatre, University of Stirling, Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 September at 7.00pm and 9.00pm both nights. Tickets, £10 and £9 (concessions), from the Macrobert Box Office on 01786 466666 or at - Tryst Theatre is a registered Scottish charity, No SC003303