A THIRD appeal against the conviction of the only man found guilty of the Lockerbie bombing atrocity has got underway at the High Court in London.

The attack on Pan Am flight 103 on December 21, 1988 claimed the lives of 270 people - all 259 passengers and crew on board and 11 people on the ground.

It was Britain’s largest ever terrorist atrocity.

The court was yesterday told that no reasonable jury could have convicted the late Abdelbaset al-Megrahi of the bombing.

The former Libyan intelligence officer, who was found guilty in 2001 of mass murder and jailed for life with a minimum term of 27 years, was the only person convicted of the attack, which brought devastation to the Borders and triggered a massive emergency response - including from crews in Cumbria.

In court yesterday, Claire Mitchell QC, representing the Megrahi family, said the original trial court agreed the disaster was caused by the explosion of an improvised explosive device in a Toshiba cassette player.

It was hidden in a brown Samsonite suitcase along with various items of clothing that were bought in Malta.

Ms Mitchell said: “The absence of any other explanation of the method by which a primary suitcase might have been placed on board KM180 is a major difficulty for the Crown case and one which has to be considered along with the rest of the circumstantial evidence.

“That is a critical issue because I say in this case that the way in which that major difficulty was overcome was by the court making the finding that on December 7 the appellant (Megrahi) purchased the clothing found in the suitcase containing the bomb.”

Appeal judges heard the trial court found the reliable parts of Mr Gauci’s evidence were the person who purchased the clothes was Libyan and the clothes were bought from his shop.

The High Court heard that Mr Gauci said Megrahi resembled the buyer but did not make an unequivocal identification.

Ms Mitchell said there were questions over whether the date of the purchase was December 7, 1988, a date when the Crown could prove that Megrahi was in Malta.

The QC told the court: “No reasonable jury, properly directed, could have returned the verdict that it did, namely the conviction of Mr Megrahi.”

The appeal began on Tuesday and is being heard before five judges

Megrahi returned to Libya and died in 2012.

n After the tragedy, a former Carlisle Royal Mail worker who lived near the site of the disaster in Lockerbie recalled that awful night.

“We heard this rumbling,” he said. “It sounded like thunder.

“I went to the window, opened the curtains and all I could see was a bright glow in the sky. Seconds later, oh God, there was an explosion. The windows blew in. There was such a blast it blew the freezer door open."

Then everything went dark, he said.

The Hight Court appeal hearing continues.