27/02/2012 11:21 GMT

Lockerbie Bomber Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi Is Innocent, Claims New Book 'You Are My Jury'

Less than 12 hours after James Ashton published his book on Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, opposition leaders were calling for a debate in the Scottish parliament based on its revelations and its publication had already been condemned by the prime minister as an "insult".

For Ashton, however, the claim that Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill had indicated to a Libyan delegation Megrahi would be "more likely" to be released on compassionate grounds from prison if he dropped an appeal against his conviction is not the most important revelation in his book, entitled Megrahi: You Are My Jury.

For him, the real scandal is he believes Megrahi is innocent - and he thinks he has the evidence to prove it.

"It's Britain's worst mass murder and the real terrorist has got away with it," he told The Huffington Post UK on Monday.

As for MacAskill's alleged message, which has prompted the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to call for a debate in the Scottish parliament, Ashton says Megrahi was "very clear" that MacAskill was not "making a demand" the appeal should be dropped.

In his book Ashton claims there is new forensic evidence which shows the timing device used in the Lockerbie bomb was not from Libya, alleging evidence withheld by the Scottish crown office. "There's not one element of his case that hangs together," he says.

Ashton, a researcher, writer and TV producer worked alongside Megrahi's legal team, where he saw the evidence, from 2006-2009. His book's publication comes as a BBC Scotland investigation to be screened on Monday at 19:30 reveals new evidence in the Lockerbie case.

Prior to that he had co-authored another book about the Lockerbie bombing, titled Cover Up of Convenience.

Ashton quotes Megrahi, who worked closely with him on the book, protesting his innocence: “You know me as the Lockerbie bomber. I know that I’m innocent. Here, for the first time, is my true story: How I came to be blamed for Britain’s worst mass murder, my nightmare decade in prison and the truth about my controversial release.

“Please read it and decide for yourself. You are now my jury.”

Speaking of Megrahi now, he claims there was "nothing in his demeanour" which suggested he was responsible for the 1988 terror attack which killed 270 people.

"How many mass murderers if they were let out of prison would spend their final days writing a book about why they were innocent? He can tell his family and they will believe him that he didn't do it but why go the extra mile?" he asks.

"I only met him in these dire circumstances. He was very dignified in the way he conducted himself, he is a very devout Muslim but not a fundamentalist and he was very much a family man."

The furore about Megrahi's release from prison on compassionate grounds based on his cancer is, he says, "borne of ignorance".

"None of the political parties in Scotland or indeed in England will indeed look at the evidence. They're all playing petty games. The scandal is the evidence against him has collapsed and the Crown had all of that. That's the scandal."

So what does he want? "I want the book to force the Scottish government to call an inquiry," he says. "Everybody should be jumping up and down about this. The book is based primarily on evidence that the police gathered and the crown gathered. It's not things that I am claiming. I was working on the legal team and it was disclosed to us."

The book's publishers Birlinn have said Megrahi will not receive "financial profit" from the book. MD Hugh Andrew said in a statement on Monday: "Any person charged with a criminal offence has the right to defend himself. This is the first time that Abdelaset Al-Megrahi has given that defence. As a publisher we make no judgement as to the rights or wrong of that defence."

A spokesperson for the Crown Office in Scotland has said it was Megrahi's decision to give up the appeal against his convinction: "The Crown has defended Mr Megrahi's conviction, including the appeal proceedings resulting from the SCCRC referral.

"The decision to discontinue the appeal proceedings was taken by Mr Megrahi and his legal team.

"In light of his abandonment of his appeal, the conviction for the murder of 270 people and the judicial determination of his guilt stand. The only appropriate forum for the determination of guilt or innocence is the criminal court.

"Mr Megrahi was convicted unanimously by three senior judges following the trial during which the evidence was rigorously tested and his conviction was upheld unanimously by five judges, in an Appeal Court presided over by the Lord Justice General, Scotland's most senior judge As the investigation remains live, it would not be appropriate to offer further comment."