The decision provoked an immediate response from Libya and the UK. Tripoli described the verdict as ‘political’, claiming that the court had bowed to pressure from Washington and London. For its part, the UK government called on Tripoli to pay compensation immediately to the Lockerbie victims, a precondition set by Washington for the full resumption of diplomatic relations with Libya.

During the three-week appeal hearing, which began on 23 January, lawyers representing Al-Megrahi presented new evidence, which they claimed cast sufficient doubt over the prosecution case for the conviction to be quashed. Two new defence witnesses testified that a secure door at Heathrow airport had been tampered with just before the Pan Am flight took off, indicating that the bomb could have been placed on board in London rather than Malta as originally claimed by the prosecution.

Following the appeal, Al-Megrahi was due to be transferred to Scotland where he will serve his life sentence.