HOPES of a new appeal against the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, have diminished.

Relatives of Mr Megrahi have not pursued any posthumous appeal nearly a year after the Libyan died of cancer in Tripoli, and it is understood they are reluctant to do so.

First Minister Alex Salmond said it was up to the family to apply to the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission (SCCRC) for a further appeal, adding that his death "ends one chapter of the Lockerbie case, but it does not close the book".

However, sources suggest they feel they "don't want to put their heads above the parapet".

Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was one of the 270 people killed in the 1988 bombing, previously indicated he was ready to take up a fresh appeal if Mr Megrahi's family did not. However, he has not yet done so, with Justice for Megrahi (JFM) campaign experts believing it would not be successful.

JFM has instead taken the political route, with a petition before the Justice Committee calling for an independent inquiry into the 2001 conviction.

An 821-page dossier by the SCCRC rejected many of the grounds of appeal submitted by Mr Megrahi's lawyers, but upheld six that may have constituted a miscarriage of justice, granting Megrahi leave to appeal.

The commission, which reviews cases after appeals have concluded, even threatened the Crown with legal action if it did not hand over important documents more quickly.

Last week, members of JFM spoke to former chief constable of Dumfries and Galloway Police Pat Shearer about their assertion the criminal justice framework had been perverted in the handling of the investigation and trial. The Crown Office has previously said the claims by the group were defamatory.

A source, who admitted having no contact with the family for some time, said: "The family would like to pursue one, but feel they are under a lot scrutiny in Libya and don't want to put their heads above the parapet for fear of antagonising the lawless and violent elements."

Documents held by the family are said to have been confiscated by the Libyan Government.

Dr Swire said: "The Megrahi family has the option of applying to the SCCRC to reinstate Megrahi's appeal, or to launch a new one. Failing them, relatives like myself would be next in line to apply to do this.

"The family are vulnerable in new Libya, and so far we have been unable to discover whether they will initiate such a process. If they did, they might attract the anger of the new Libyan Government or the groups with Kalashnikovs who roam Tripoli and hate anything connected with Gaddafi.

"The tragedy is that a new appeal would in fact overturn the verdict and clear Megrahi, and thereby Libya also."

Among the flaws highlighted by the SCCRC was the Crown's failure to inform the defence about a £1.9 million reward from the US Justice Department paid to two star witnesses.

Tony Gauci claimed Mr Megrahi bought clothes in his shop in Malta that were later found in the suitcase containing the bomb. His identification of the bomber was vital to the prosecution case, but the defence did not know he had been offered and paid the reward.

Mr Megrahi's lawyers would have used this to challenge the Crown's case.

Dr Swire said a circuit board fragment that was supposed to link the bomb to Mr Megrahi and Malta could not in fact have been part of the long-running Libyan timer allegedly used.

"The Crown Office has wilfully ignored this irrefutable proof of their failure, not even bothering to question the scientists who discovered the fake during all that time," he said.

"Instead they send officers to Libya, no doubt at great expense, ignoring the fact that their case that Megrahi/Libya were responsible is fatally flawed."