RELATIVES of the Lockerbie victims have vowed to pursue a public inquiry, even if it means forcing the hand of the UK Government through the courts.

On the day Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the bombing, was laid to rest near the Libyan capital of Tripoli, Dr Jim Swire whose daughter Flora died in the atrocity, revealed the families have taken legal advice and are planning to challenge UK ministers with a judicial review.

Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond have both rejected calls for an independent inquiry into the bombing in December 1988 that claimed 270 lives.

However, lawyers claim it would be possible to challenge that decision in the courts and Dr Swire said he is determined to pursue an inquiry.

It also emerged yesterday that Tony Kelly, Megrahi's lawyer, will travel to Libya this week to pay his respects to Megrahi's family.

Megrahi was released from prison on compassionate grounds almost three years ago because he was suffering from terminal prostate cancer.

He had been granted a fresh appeal by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), which found there could have been a miscarriage of justice on six different grounds. However, he dropped the appeal.

Megrahi's release unleashed an international storm of criticism, but many of the victims' relatives believe the conviction to be unsound, especially in light of new evidence.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill yesterday said he had made the "right decision for the right reasons".

He said: "You have to deal with what comes before you. I didn't choose to address this matter but it was my obligation as the Justice Secretary to address it.

"I did so without fear or favour. I did so following the rules and laws that we have in Scotland, based upon the evidence provided."

SNP MP Angus Robertson said the "hypocrisy" of Labour and Conservative MPs was in contrast to Mr MacAskill's "in good faith" decision.

Dr Swire and other relatives are working with leading lawyer Gareth Peirce to compel the UK Government under human rights legislation to allow an inquiry.

Dr Swire told The Herald: "Our lawyers are saying we have an absolute right to know who killed our loved ones and why they were not protected."

He said that had become "increasingly important" since they learned recently that statements about a break-in at Heathrow Airport before the December 1988 bombing were kept by police until 1999.

Dr Swire added: "This might mean pushing for a judicial review of the UK Government's decision not to grant an independent inquiry.

"The alternative right now is for Alex Salmond to get his act together and grant an independent inquiry in Scotland.

"I am not in the mood to forgo the right to know who murdered my daughter and who knew the airport was broken into 16 hours before and decided not to do anything about it.

"I will have to take further advice on whether I could pursue this through the SCCRC. I think the next move lies with the Megrahi family."

Professor Robert Black QC – the architect of Megrahi's trial, said ministers could be persuaded to hold an independent inquiry in Scotland, or a relative of Megrahi may re-apply to the SCCRC and push for a new appeal.

Ministers' continued refusal to hold a public inquiry could be challenged as a breach of article 8, the right to a family life.

Niall McCluskey, an advocate and expert in human rights, said: "The court could declare the Government was in some way in breach of the petitioner's human rights. Judicial review is a mechanism by which they could seek to have the decision of the Government not to hold an inquiry challenged."

John Ashton, a former member of Megrahi's defence team and the author of his official biography, Megrahi: You Are My Jury, said: "He has suffered a very painful death and he has gone to his grave with the conviction hanging over him.

"I am convinced that sooner or later the conviction will be overturned."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Scottish Government does not doubt the safety of the conviction of al Megrahi. Nevertheless, there remain concerns to some on the wider issues of the Lockerbie atrocity.

"The questions to be asked and answered in any such inquiry would be beyond the jurisdiction of Scots law and the remit of the Scottish Government, and such an inquiry would therefore need to be initiated by those with the required power and authority to deal with an issue, international in its nature."

Downing Street refused to explain Mr Cameron's reasoning behind his refusal to back a new inquiry.