Leading QC attacks BBC over ‘misleading’ Megrahi headline


By a Newsnet reporter
A leading QC has accused the BBC of indulging in ‘lazy journalism’ after the broadcaster appeared to imply that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi had claimed a ‘role’ in the Lockerbie bombing.
Robert Black, who helped set up the Lockerbie trial in Camp Zeist, described the use of the headline ‘Megrahi – My role exaggerated’, and similar media descriptions of a Reuters interview with Mr Megrahi, as “the laziness of the media”.

The headline follows reports of a Reuters interview with Mr Megrahi in which the Libyan describes himself as being near death.  Mr Megrahi claims that he has never hurt anyone and that the facts of Lockerbie would become clear one day.

He said: “The facts [about the Lockerbie bombing] will become clear one day and hopefully in the near future.  In a few months from now, you will see new facts that will be announced,”

Mr Megrahi described the Scottish courtroom at Camp Zeist where he was tried and convicted as “the smallest place on earth that contains the largest number of liars.  I suffered from the liars at Camp Zeist Court more than you can imagine,”

The Libyan also denied any part in atrocities against fellow Libyans whilst employed by the Gaddafi regime saying: “All my work was administrative. I never harmed Libyans,”

However it is Mr Megrahi’s reported quote regarding his name that has led to Robert Black’s criticism of the BBC and other media – including Reuters. 

The Libyan says “The West exaggerated my name.  Please leave me alone. I only have a few more days, weeks or months.”

This word ‘name’ has been replaced with the word ‘role’ by some media outlets and implies a degree of participation on the part of Megrahi in the downing of Pan Am 103 in 1988, something he has always denied.

The BBC’s online headline has since been compounded by several news bulletins on BBC Radio Scotland where Mr Megrahi has been described variously as saying that “his role in the bombing had been exaggerated” and “his role in the attack had been exaggerated”.

In his online blog Mr Black says:

“It is annoying that the summary that introduces this report states that Megrahi told Reuters “his role in the attack had been exaggerated”.

“This is not, of course, what he said.  But such is the laziness of the media, it is undoubtedly what will be headlined, as in this report on the BBC News website.”

Some time after 5pm the ‘misleading’ headline was altered on the BBC Scotland online news site from ‘Megrahi – My role exaggerated’ to ‘Megrahi – ‘Truth will come out’.

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