[Dr Jim Swire has replied to the Prime Minister's letter to him dated 23 October 2009. This letter, and the one from Dr Swire that prompted it, can be read here. Dr Swire's new letter, dated 27 October, reads as follows:]
Dear Prime Minister,
Thank you for your letter dated 23rd October, replying to my letter of 24th August.
I can see how the contents of my previous letter may have misled you into thinking that it was purely questions surrounding the Scottish criminal court case against Mr Megrahi for which I am seeking an inquiry.
That however is not the case.
The Heathrow incident which I mentioned, and to which you naturally referred, was of course located at that airport. So far as I am aware Scotland has no locus in controlling that.
However one thing Scotland did have control over was that since the deaths of the crew (‘in their place of work’) occurred in Scotland, it was mandatory that a Scottish Fatal Accident Inquiry be held. It made a number of interesting findings.
It concluded that the aircraft was under the Host State protection of the United Kingdom, not of course Scotland.
It also concluded that the disaster had been preventable. So far as I am aware, the adherence of the United Kingdom to International ICAO aviation security treaties is not devolved. Yet the adherence of Heathrow airport to international treaties was shown in the FAI to have been deficient, even though, unlike the authorities in London, it was not aware of the appallingly irresponsible handling of the break-in there.
Now it is the duty of Fatal Accident Inquiries, as you know, not to point the finger of blame, but to define factors and entities which may have contributed to the deaths. In this case our FAI found that the aircraft, under the Host State protection of the United Kingdom had been loaded from empty at Heathrow airport, and that therefore the loading of the bomb aboard the fatal flight inevitably occurred there, since the incoming aircraft from Frankfurt had been a different one from the 747 which blew up, and every one of the 747’s bags was loaded aboard at Heathrow, some of them having been transferred from the Frankfurt aircraft on the tarmac at Heathrow. What the FAI could not comment upon was the material which I referred to in my previous letter, the Heathrow break-in, since it was not known to that court. It remained hidden for 12 years. Any meaningful inquiry will want to know why. The origins of that mystery too must obviously be sought in London, not Scotland
Instead the FAI was invited (by the late Sheriff Principal John Mowat), to presume that the IED which was said to have caused the disaster had ‘come from Frankfurt’.
A simple inquiry will confirm for you that the Heathrow night security guard (Mr Manley) who had discovered the said break-in had immediately reported it to his superiors and came shortly afterwards (January 1989) to be interviewed by the anti terrorist branch of the Metropolitan Police.
Now so far as I know, neither the state of security at Heathrow in December 1988, nor the activities of the Metropolitan anti-terrorist branch, nor the remarkable fact that the existence of this break-in event lay hidden for 12 years can be attributed to the devolved Government of Scotland, nor her separate legal system. Indeed Scotland’s Crown Office has denied to me in writing that they knew of the break-in during the 12 years it lay hidden.
Yet this is still far from a summary of why any inquiry to be meaningful must focus attention on London, not Edinburgh.
Following the disaster, from various sources (none of them volunteered from within the Thatcher government) we acquired details of a number of extraordinarily relevant and timely warnings. These came from abroad to the UK government either directly or via the US government. None of them came to Scotland.
Why were they not acted upon? The Fatal Accident Inquiry told us the disaster was preventable: why were the warnings ignored or wasted? Surely it is time that we were allowed to know that? The answer to this vital question must lie with the UK Government.
Yes the aircraft was American owned, but the FAI told us that it was the UK Government which had the responsibility for its security. Yes, we are told that the plane was destroyed by a bomb in its cargo hold, but the FAI told us that every suitcase, and therefore the bomb itself had been loaded at Heathrow.
You have now received a much more comprehensive letter requesting a full inquiry from our group ‘UK Families-Flight 103’ I am one of the signatories. I hope that the contents of this letter underline some of the reasons as to why I cannot possibly accept that any inquiry should be limited to Scotland, and I apologise if my previous personal letter of the 24th of August misled you over the main focus that the inquiry will need to address.
That focus lies in London and at the door of the then inhabitant of Number 10 Downing Street.
I look forward to hearing you comments both to our group’s letter and to the contents of this one.
(signed) Dr Jim Swire