Friday, 19 December 2014

Lockerbie evidence planted or "improved"? "I don't know" said Lord Advocate Fraser.

What follows is an item posted on this blog six years ago on this date:

Peter Fraser pins colours to the mast

In an article in The Times, the Lord Advocate at the time that charges were brought against Abdelbaset Megrahi and Lamin Fhimah for the destruction of Pan Am 103, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie QC, expresses his confidence in the evidence that led to the conviction of Megrahi. Here are excerpts:

'Lord Fraser does not discount the involvement of other states, but he points out that no definitive evidence has been produced to link them to the attack. The Libyans, on the other hand, were traced through the diligence of Scottish detectives, who managed to identify the manufacturers of clothing found in the suspect suitcase that had held the bomb. By proving that the clothing had been bought in Malta, and then establishing that the purchaser was al-Megrahi, they laid the foundations of the Crown case. “For me that was the most significant breakthrough,” Lord Fraser says now.'

'Tam Dalyell, the former MP, has argued that the CIA may have known about the attack beforehand. Lord Fraser rejects that. “I told Tam Dalyell: if there was a conspiracy, then I am in it up to the neck. I have to be involved. The only other possibility is that I have been so naive that bits of evidence have been planted, and I have swallowed it hook, line and sinker. But four other Lord Advocates have also examined the evidence and they have all concurred with it.”'

On the issue of the provenance of the MST-13 circuit board fragment which was crucial to the establishment of a link between Libya and the destruction of the aircraft, Lord Fraser hedges his bets somewhat:

'The discovery of a fragment of circuit board from a timer made by a Swiss company with links to Libya was critical to the prosecution. But accounts of how, where and by whom it was found varied. The original fragment was found several miles from the wreckage, and some weeks after the disaster.

'It was not until very much later that the CIA claimed to have identified it and matched it with a circuit board manufactured by Mebo of Zurich, a company run by Edwin Bollier, who had supplied timers to the Libyan Government. Some experts have argued that the find was just a bit too convenient to the US investigators, since, by targeting the Libyans, they could avoid falling out with Iran and Syria, important allies at the time of the Gulf War. So could the CIA have planted the evidence? “I don’t know,” says Lord Fraser. “No one ever came to me and said, ‘Now we can go for the Libyans’, it was never as straightforward as that. The CIA was extremely subtle. For me the significant evidence came when the Scottish police made the connection with Malta.” Pressed for his own view, he cites a Scottish murder case, that of Patrick Meehan, in which, it was alleged, the prosecution case had been “improved” by the planting of evidence. Was there a similarity? “I don’t know,” he said again, “but if there was one witness I was not happy about, it was Mr Bollier, who was deeply unreliable.”'

The botched and bungled Lockerbie bombing farce

[I am grateful to Sharyn Bovat for drawing my attention to an article by Andrew McKillop headed Torture, Terror And Elite Schizophrenia In The UK published on 16 December on The Market Oracle website. The following is a brief extract:]

The BBC excelled itself in the bizarre quest of justifying torture (even revelling in its use), while stoutly telling viewers and listeners that "we don't do that here". BBC News TV's first response and reaction to the Senate report included a 30-minute special report in peak viewing time "with data compiled by the BBC itself" on its claimed tally of Islamic terror deaths around the world in the month of November. The total was a suspiciously exact 5042 and Iraq and Nigeria topped the "goal average' of dead the BBC registered in, or concocted for, third-place Afghanistan. But curiously enough, Syria wasn't even mentioned.  Not a single terror war death happened in Syria in the whole of the month of November 2014 - despite all the terror war funding by the football-loving and hotel-buying Arab Gulf petro-states which are "moving towards democracy"! My oh my.

Scarcely 3 days later however, by Sunday 14 December the British mainstream media's tone had dramatically changed. The previous propaganda blitz cracked asunder. Suddenly the UK's elite-serving mainstream press was asking in a stern way: "How much did the UK government know?", and what bits of the Senate report were "redacted" to censor details of active British participation in CIA torture since the years 2001-2004? It was now urgent to know. Three days before, there was no such thing as UK complicity in American torture!

One likely or probable reason for this "sea change" includes the fact that the bulk of UK complicity and aid to CIA torture and "extraordinary rendition" or kidnapping followed by torture, was decided under a Labout government headed by Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Jack Straw, in which Labour Party leader Ed Miliband's brother was Foreign Secretary for a while. The true blue press and media, like the BBC can therefore rally to support the clean-fingernailed English Conservative party by suddenly trumpeting the horrors of UK complicity in US torture. You can trust the media!

Extraordinary rendition, as its tastefully called, was firstly described as "not in any way really concerning the UK", give or take a few isolated cases, such as the botched and bungled Abdul al-Megrahi Lockerbie bombing farce, in which al-Megrahi was released early on "compassionate grounds" to prevent his appeal being heard, where his Scottish lawyers would have produced devastating proof that the prosecution had used completely tainted and false testimonies, including purchased testimonies, and completely false material evidence invented by "you guess who".  

[RB: Extraordinary rendition was not involved in he cases of Megrahi and Fhimah. Nor was extradition. They voluntarily surrendered themselves for trial. But I have no quibble with the rest of the account.]

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Equality of arms? Fair trial? Forget it!

What follows is an item posted on this blog on 17 December 2007:

Crown refuses to reveal secret Lockerbie paper

This is the title of a front-page article in The Herald by Lucy Adams. Whereas I on this blog on 14 December merely speculated that the reason for this week's procedural hearing might be that the Crown had refused to hand over to Mr Megrahi's legal team the document relating to timers seen by the SCCRC, Lucy Adams (whose sources are usually impeccably reliable) states as a fact that this is the reason why the hearing has been called. She writes:

"Two months ago, the Crown Office was instructed to pass on the document or provide substantial reasons as to why it could not be given to the defence.

"However, The Herald can reveal the Crown has since opposed the petition and suggested it has no duty to disclose. It has refused to reveal, even to the defence, the country from which the document originated, or its full reasons for not sharing the information.

"The defence team is understood to be seeking the document which relates to supply of timers and an additional paper."

For the full story, see

The Edinburgh Evening News has picked up the story:

And here is a link to Dr Ludwig de Braeckeleer's commentary on OhMyNews:

It looks, therefore, as if the Crown is claiming Public Interest Immunity in relation to the document, on the basis of the public interest in maintaining good relations with the foreign country which supplied the document with the condition that its confidentiality be preserved. What the judges of the High Court will be required to do, in deciding whether to order the document to be handed over, is to balance that aspect of the public interest against the public interest in a fair trial (protected, inter alia by article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights) which involves an accused person having access to all evidence that might assist his case.

If this is indeed what the procedural hearing will be concerned with, I, for one, will find it interesting to hear the the Lord Advocate's representative arguing that maintaining good relations with a foreign country is a matter that should take precedence over the fairness of Scottish criminal proceedings.

[The sordid saga of the UK Government’s successful attempt to prevent Abdelbaset Megrahi’s lawyers obtaining access to this document, aided and abetted by the Scottish Crown Office, can be followed here.]

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

A political fiction convenient to US foreign policy

[What follows is the text of an open letter sent by Dr Jim Swire on 14 December 2014 to Sir Malcolm Rifkind KCMG QC MP, Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee of the UK Parliament:]

I applaud your statement on Radio Four this morning, as chairman of the intelligence and Security committee that you will seek clarification from the Americans over the heavily redacted Senate report on CIA torture.
Of course you will want to know whether aircraft spotted transiting Prestwick airport really were part of the CIA run 'extraordinary rendition' programe which is widely alleged to have included the sending of British Nationals to Libya to be tortured.

May I remind you that prior to that in President Reagan's day, the CIA were deeply involved in the deeply illegal Iran Contra activities of the mid 1980s, involving extra-judicial killings on an industrial scale.
The present investigation was into post 9/11 (2001) CIA activities.
In 1988 in your own homeland of Scotland the Lockerbie disaster occurred.
At the subsequent trial at Zeist the CIA were seen to have blatantly attempted to mislead the court by concealing the lying and fantasizing of their 'star witness' known as Jiaka, to the point where, after the then Lord Advocate Colin Boyd had been brought to the very edge of perjury in his attempts to prevent the court from hearing the truth contained in the CIA cables concerning 'Jiaka' the court rejected him as a reliable witness.
What the court did not know because the information was not made available to it, was that a technical forensic item which was produced in court, seeming to be a piece of circuit board from Libya, had in fact been manufactured using technology not even available to manufacturers in the late 80s.
This item accepted by the court seems clearly to have been designed expressly to deceive the court.
Its technical excellence suggests a sophisticated organization behind its production.
Please will you therefore request that the Americans also to research and divulge divulge to your committee what actions were taken by the CIA during the years between Iran/Contra and '9/11' which were relevant to the UK, particularly with respect to their major role in providing evidence to the court which convicted a Libyan over Lockerbie?
As a distinguished Scot you must surely be deeply concerned were any proof to emerge that our Scottish Criminal Justice system had been deliberately subverted by the CIA.
Would you also, having the ear of the Prime Minister, please inform him of this letter and of any information from America relevant to Lockerbie, and then explain to us why you believe there is no need for a full inquiry, denied us for 26 years over the slaughter of our families?
As recently as 2012, Downing Street claimed publicly that a book published in Edinburgh confirming, with independent and responsible scientific support, that false forensic evidence had been introduced at Zeist, was "an insult to the relatives".
I would like him to be aware that the Downing Street statement about this book was the insult to many UK relatives of the Lockerbie dead, not the evident confirmation of some of our worst fears contained in the book.
We still seek the truth about who murdered our families. We are not going to go away until we know the truth and see it publicly confirmed. That is our right. It has long been evident to some of us that the blaming of the two Libyans was a political fiction convenient to US Foreign policy.
In the past you have taken quite a hostile attitude to our attempts to discover the whole truth, but you may well have been unaware at the time, of the information certainly denied to the public and the trial court, but now widely available. The post 9/11 Senate report even as published reveals an ongoing ethos of contempt within the CIA for the restraints which the law imposes. I feel sure that you will wish to pursue this hitherto enigmatic horror story through to the truth on which it must eventually be founded, for the sake of Scotland's reputation and in the name of justice.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Malpractice at the CIA and the Lockerbie trial

[What follows is the text of a letter submitted by Dr Jim Swire to The Times on 10 December but not (as yet) published:]

The Senate inquiry [into torture and the CIA] was essentially limited to post 9/11 behaviour by the CIA.
During the Lockerbie trial of two Libyans over the Lockerbie disaster the CIA was the major provider of evidence to the court.
Their attempts to conceal the true status of their key witness by selective redaction and concealment of their cable traffic led to their Lordships rejecting his entire evidence. It emerged that the man was a liar, a fantasist and a corrupt consumer of their resources and that the CIA knew this before the trial.
Scotland's then Lord Advocate was led to the very brink of perjury in trying to defend that evidence. [RB: More about this disgraceful episode can be read here.]
Since the trial it has now become clear that a key forensic item  allegedly from the crash site had in fact been manufactured using advanced electronic technology simply not in use at the time of Lockerbie.
The verdict reached has contributed to NATO's decision to bomb the unfortunate Libya into current chaos, the murder of Colonel Gaddafi and a failed State where ISIS is already training jihadies, an whence arms have infiltrated the terrorist groups throughout much of the Sahel region.
It also led to the conviction of an innocent Libyan, the destruction of the reputation of Scottish Justice the protection of the real Lockerbie perpetrators, and much extra suffering for inquisitive Lockerbie relatives.
I have faith in the philosophy underlying the Obama regime, based on his magnificent Cairo speech after election. I believe the President should now seek an extension of investigation of the CIA prior to 9/11 as well.
If one is to lance a boil it is wise to curette out all the pus on the same occasion.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Contempt shown to Scotland's legal system during Lockerbie shambles

[The following are excerpts from a column headlined Will torturers be banged to rights? in today’s edition of the Sunday Herald. The columnist is not readily identifiable from the newspaper’s website (though I think I detect the style of Ian Bell):]

I have, as our American friends sometimes say, a dream.

In my little reverie, two of Glasgow's finest one day turn up at the headquarters of the CIA in Langley, Virginia, and ask to have a word with whoever is claiming to be in charge that week. For the sake of good taste, neither copper will say: "There's bin a torture."

After all, the reality of the allegations involving CIA rendition flights and Scottish airports does not approach even black comedy. The world's most powerful country stands revealed, in a vast report from its own Senate, as a torture state. That's not how America likes to see itself. On this side of the Atlantic, numerous politicians have issued denials of complicity which turn out to be - for how dare we say more? - "untrue". And then there's little Scotland.

Inevitably, the security establishment in the United States - and in London, for that matter - will treat that detail as an actual joke. The contempt shown to Scotland's legal system during the Lockerbie shambles ought to have been evidence enough that in those circles we don't count for much. But the fact does not oblige us to remain silent, not where grotesque violations of human rights and international law are concerned.

Those sleek, mysterious private jets turning up everywhere from Prestwick to Wick were not secrets for long. The CIA's rendition flights, "black sites" and outsourcing of torture when Dick Cheney was pulling the strings for George W Bush were all documented, to a degree, before the Senate set to work. The politicians, in the US, Britain and beyond, simply responded with unrelenting, blanket denials. Legislatures were kept - no pun offered - in the dark. Thus was democracy defended.

This was not a failure of journalism, or of honest politicians. As long ago as 2005, my colleague Neil Mackay was describing the operations of a global torture industry in harrowing detail, telling of 75 flights through Prestwick, almost as many through Glasgow, and of 20 British airports exploited for the trade in "intelligence", most of it - says the Senate - worthless.

Mackay documented the horrific treatment of one individual now named by the committee. Direct British involvement was described. No-one resigned; no-one was arrested. (...)

Police Scotland should be encouraged to ask their questions, starting at home. They should be joined by police the world over. This might prove to ordinary citizens that reasonable questions are too often met by an unreasonable silence, that our safety has now become a permanent excuse for the state within the state.

The advocates of torture, like Cheney, have few justifications now. While democracy is debauched we are left with a just-in-case argument: systematic abuse merely to be on the safe side, to guard against a possibility while reality becomes still more dangerous than before. Yet, ironically (or comically), Britain has a bigger problem than the US. The behaviour of Bush and his crew was more or less known. Our Westminster politicians just lied, time and again.

Sending round a DI and a DC from Police Scotland might not be such a bad idea. If tortured prisoners were on our soil they are, in any sense that counts, on our consciences. Scots law has plenty yet to say about that kind of offence.

Victim's father urges new investigation into Lockerbie case

This is a translation of the headline over an article published yesterday on the Austrian Wings website. It deals with Dr Jim Swire’s letter in yesterday’s edition of The Scotsman. An English version, courtesy of Google Translate, can be read here.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

CIA’s Lockerbie role must be reviewed

[This is the headline over a letter from Dr Jim Swire published in today’s edition of The Scotsman. It reads as follows:]

The trial of two Libyans in Zeist in 2000 over the Lockerbie atrocity first convinced some UK relatives and exp­erts in criminal law that we were not seeing a fair trial, but a cynical intelligence-led perversion of the Scottish criminal justice system.

For instance, the prosecution alleged that the bomb had been placed aboard a plane in Malta, and transferred at Frankfurt and 
Heathrow to the target plane on which our families died.

This clearly would have requir­ed a long-running timer, and a fragment of 
circuit board allegedly from such a timer was duly led in evidence in court.

However, post-trial, we now know, and have independent scientific proof, that the technology used to 
create that fragment was fundamentally different from that used in the Libyan 
timers allegedly powering the Lockerbie bomb, and simply could not have come from one of them.

The fragment was claimed to have been found by UK forensic “experts” within a Scottish police evidence bag.

The crash site had been overrun by CIA agents immediately after the crash and potentially evidential material visibly tampered with. The Scottish police were working in close contact with the CIA throughout the investigation.

Neither the UK nor the Scottish Governments have been prepared to listen to our constant pleas since the trial for an inquiry into the whole case.

Now that it seems clear that at least some sections of the CIA using a remarkable degree of autonomy from their executive had long cast any moral restraint aside, is it not high time that their management of the Lockerbie evidence also be re-examined?

It is not simply that we relatives have a right to know the whole truth; the verdict of that court must have been a powerful factor in “justifying” the Nato bombing of Libya, which has resulted in such misery to that unfortunate country, to the rise of Isis training camps round Bengazi and the redistribution of Libyan arms to terrorists throughout much of the Sahel region.

I do not believe that the UK and US Governments would want to try to conceal such wicked actions by their own intelligence services and 
police if the leaders only knew of them.

To take positive action to objectively review their 
intelligence management of the Lockerbie atrocity might alleviate a great deal of unnecessary ongoing suffering for us even now.

It might also offer a golden opportunity to lay blame, if blame there truly be, where it is properly due.

That could then underpin improvements in the behaviour and status of our nations in the future.

We are not going to abandon our search for the truth, – far better to lance the boil now rather than let more hostile agencies do it later.

I believe that if he knew about this further intelligence scandal, then in the spirit of his great Cairo speech following his election, President Obama would not want this concealed one moment longer.

Fourth meeting between Justice for Megrahi and Police Scotland

[What follows is a précis of the fourth meeting held between the Justice for Megrahi Police Scotland Liaison Group and officers of Police Scotland at Tulliallan on 24th November 2014. Reports on the earlier meetings can be found here and here and here.]


Justice for Megrahi (JfM):  Iain McKie; James Robertson.

Police Scotland: Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone; Detective Superintendent Stuart Johnstone; Detective Chief Inspector Scott Cunningham.

Apologies: Len Murray.


This is the fourth meeting held to facilitate liaison between Police Scotland and JfM in respect of the ongoing investigation by Police Scotland into JfM’s complaint of 9 criminal allegations made in September 2012.

DCC Livingstone introduced the meeting and welcomed those present whilst acknowledging the apology sent by Len Murray due to illness.

He referred to the previous meeting held on 29th September 2014; despite neither himself nor James Robertson being present, he acknowledged this still provided opportunity for meaningful dialogue and discussion on the progress of the enquiry and that much of the discussion at the last meeting focused on what is essentially the conclusion, meantime, of enquiries into Allegation 8.

It was agreed by both parties that the précis of the last meeting was accurate for submission to the Justice Committee and DCC Livingstone confirmed he would update the JC convener’s clerk.  The confidential meeting record was also discussed to be agreed.

DCC Livingstone confirmed that a meeting with the appointed independent QC had been arranged for early December 2014 to discuss the draft report in relation to Allegation 8.

D Supt Johnstone referred to the close relationship between Police Scotland and JfM; this allowed for open and frank discussion which had been, and would continue to be recorded in an agreed confidential record of meetings, with also a subsequent agreed précis for public release.  JfM were in full agreement with this and emphasised the importance of keeping certain discussions confidential.

DCC Livingstone reiterated that consideration was ongoing in terms of the necessity and proportionality of interviewing witnesses, and that the matter of interviewing witnesses would be considered by the investigating officers and actioned if deemed necessary.  JfM, acknowledging this, however stated they expected in principle that witnesses would require to be interviewed at some stage.

DCC Livingstone added that as these were unique circumstances the appointment of an independent QC provided the police investigation with an appropriate level of scrutiny prior to reporting the findings to Crown Office, which was clearly not the normal procedure.  It was again emphasised that this was a key relationship and preparatory work was underway prior to the next formal meeting with the QC.  

JfM highlighted their desire to discuss the findings of the police investigation at the conclusion and acknowledged although they may not be in full agreement or entirely satisfied with the findings, they appreciated a thorough investigation was ongoing.

D Supt Johnstone confirmed that the analytical research had been opened out and wider reaching including analysis of publications by Morag Kerr, John Ashton along with the JfM allegations.  A document listing 64 assertions had been compiled which was particularly complex and included key areas of forensics, 3 airports security and movement of baggage.  This was identified as the largest body of work due to the sheer volume of information and documentation.

D Supt Johnstone highlighted that there was a good relationship with the SCCRC who are assisting the police investigation with providing relevant documentation and information, where necessary.

Police Scotland also confirmed that to date, there has been no dialogue with Crown Office in relation to the police investigation into the 9 allegations made by JfM.

JfM emphasised that it was critical that the present level of trust was maintained with Police Scotland and that this should not be jeopardised by either party.

Although not directly linked to their criminal allegations JfM raised concerns about a perceived lack of follow up treatment by the authorities for police officers and others who had been traumatised as a result of their Lockerbie related duties. It appeared as if a number had suffered from post traumatic stress and other psychological and emotional reactions and these effects had not been effectively monitored and treated by the various responsible authorities. They felt that these issues were worthy of recognition and comment. DCC Livingstone acknowledged this concern and outlined how Police Scotland were alert to such issues and had built in welfare procedures to identify, diagnose and care for those officers who suffered such reactions.

The JfM representatives asked Police Scotland to confirm in respect of their enquiries into the ‘timer’ fragment found at Lockerbie, whose provenance had subsequently been challenged by JfM in their allegations, that should these challenges be upheld, would further enquiry then be made into the evidence of the witnesses who allegedly found the fragment and who had subsequently handled and analysed it.

DCC Livingstone explained that while he would not go into detail about any aspect of their investigation, no legitimate lines of enquiry arising from their investigations would be excluded.

D Supt Johnstone confirmed that a specific timeline was being compiled in relation to ‘evidence’ related to the “bomb” used in the atrocity.

The matter of forensic issues and experts was raised by JfM. D Supt Johnstone explained there were several areas which would require independent forensic experts.

In terms of the projection of the police investigation, D Supt Johnstone indicated this would progress well into 2015.  Additional expert support was being provided by the National Crime Agency emphasising the degree of specialist support to the police investigation.


JFM representatives stated they were satisfied with the updates and with the process whereby a confidential record of discussions is maintained and circulated to both parties, and an agreed précis released to the public.  It was agreed to hold the next meeting around February 2015.

Both parties agreed that the positive relationship and mutual trust which had been built was apparent and that the discussions continued to be open, frank and extremely beneficial.

Seminal article on political background to Lockerbie

On this date in 2011, I reproduced on this blog excerpts from Davina Miller’s seminal article Who Knows About This? Western Policy Towards Iran: The Lockerbie Case. This is perhaps the most important, detailed and unbiased account yet written about the political background to the Lockerbie atrocity. For anyone with a genuine interest in the case, it is required reading.

Friday, 12 December 2014

CIA, Lockerbie and perverting the course of justice

[What follows is the text of a letter from Dr Jim Swire published in today’s edition of The Herald:]

In the Lockerbie trial at Zeist the CIA was the major provider of evidence to the Scottish police nominally in charge of the investigation.

From day one CIA agents were observed removing and interfering with potentially evidential material at the crash site, unimpeded by any scene-of-crime precautions.

During the trial a sliver of circuit board was produced in court, allegedly found at the crash site and discovered within a Scottish police evidence bag. The bag was seen to have had its label interfered with. The court accepted that the sliver had come from a long running bomb timer owned by Libya.

What the court did not know was that the sliver of circuit board had been manufactured using technology which had not been in use with manufacturers until the early 1990s, years after Lockerbie, and so could not have been from the wreckage in 1988. To the court it seemed strongly to support the prosecution case that the bomb had travelled all the way from Malta, courtesy of such a timer.

Those who seek the truth over Lockerbie, would like to know who made this clearly anachronistic fragment, what their motive was and how it came to be found within an official Scottish police evidence bag, thus apparently deliberately assisting in perverting the course of justice.

Hitherto both the Scottish and UK Governments have refused objective and comprehensive review of the tragedy; now is America's chance to define the role of the CIA in this dreadful case.

By assisting the court in reaching a guilty verdict against a Libyan, the scene was set for the subsequent NATO bombing of Libya, which led to the murder of Gaddafi, the collapse of Libya into an anarchy where thousands have died, and where ISIS is now able to run training camps in the East of the country, while the country's armories have been looted to supply terror groups throughout the Sahel region.

This apparent perversion of justice through CIA actions appears to have led to results which have killed more people even than those horribly murdered in 9/11.

If America wishes to overcome the CIA's deep stain on her reputation for freedom and fairness, as at least some of her senators and her President seem to want to do, she will need to investigate just how far back the CIA first became a semi-autonomous rogue organisation.

The senate's investigations must now be extended back in time to cover all aspects of the Lockerbie bombing, the truth of which so many in the Arab world already believe has been deliberately concealed to this day for political reasons, by the West.

Enough of the present Senate report has been left unredacted to show not only that the limits of the law were far exceeded, but that a culture free from the restraints of honesty or integrity had been accepted without question by many in the service.