REVELATIONS surrounding the private life of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing add further weight to his claims of innocence, the father of one of the victims of the atrocity has claimed.

Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the bombing, said Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi's claim he used to travel to Malta to see a mistress, often without identification, gave him further motivation as to why he was in the country shortly before the attack on December 21, 1988.

Prosecutors claim the suitcase which contained the bomb and long-running timer was loaded in Malta.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) later concluded, following interviews with Megrahi, that he could have been in Malta the day before the bombing to visit an unnamed woman with whom he had sexual relations over a number of years.

In previously unseen legal documents, Megrahi claimed he could move without record between Tripoli and Malta as an employee of Libyan Arab Airlines and without a passport or other identification.

Megrahi had also suggested he met the woman on December 7, a critical date in the Megrahi prosecution. It was then that witness Tony Gauci claimed he sold clothes to Megrahi, which were later found in a suitcase that contained the bomb.

In a letter to The Herald, Dr Swire said: "Does this affect the case against him? Well, yes, I think it does. It gives a deeply intimate further motivation for his obtaining a false passport in a false name, on top of those of having international business interests as well as procuring sanctions-busting spares for Libyan Airlines aircraft."

The release of details about Megrahi's private life has prompted a row between the author of his official biography and the BBC. John Ashton claims he shared the SCCRC report with the broadcaster only for the purposes of a documentary and that there was agreement it would not be used thereafter.

Mr Ashton said the SCCRC report notes only that the mistress story was a "possible explanation" offered by Megrahi for his trips to Malta on December 7 and 20, 1988.

Other possible explanations from Megrahi included business dealings in Malta. The SCCRC did not investigate the issue and it did not impact upon its findings

Mr Ashton said last night: "While there is a strong public interest in making the report's contents public, there is no public interest defence for the BBC in knowingly s******* its primary source, and it should be ashamed that it has done so. I shall be raising this matter with the controller of BBC Scotland."

However, the BBC said it was in the public interest to report on parts of the SCCRC report.

A spokesman for BBC Scotland said: "Network Features, the independent production company who made the documentary for BBC Scotland, were given access to the full SCCRC report into the Megrahi case, parts of which were included in the programme.

"In turn, the company gave the BBC access to the report for both legal and editorial reasons in order to make a fair and accurate programme.

"The BBC feels that there are justifiable public interest reasons to publish selected abstracts from the report."