[What follows is a response by Dr Jim Swire to a comment by Richard Marquise on the article "Taking Another Look at the Destruction of Pan Am 103" that recently appeared in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. The article, and Mr Marquise's comment, can be read here.]
How remarkable that a man of your stature, Mr Marquise, should publish a comment which starts by claiming that those who wrote this article and those who do not believe that the Megrahi verdict was correct 'Have no knowledge other than what they have read in blogs on the internet offering an "opinion" of the evidence at Lockerbie....'
I sat, Mr Marquise, in the court at Zeist throughout the main trial and the first appeal: were you there? Frequently I still refer to the full set of transcripts to try to ensure that I make as few mistakes as possible. But I would add that it is what is not there that is often so interesting.
I presume you know, sir, that the trial judges were forced to report that it was 'a difficulty for the prosecution case that no evidence was led as to how Megrahi breached security in Malta'. Perhaps with your resources Mr Marquise, you can tell me, why was it that the break-in the night before Lockerbie at Heathrow airport was concealed from the main trial? It only emerged after 12 years: too late for the trial court to use.
Why was that? If you were indeed in charge of the case, presumably you know the answer. The Crown Office tell me they didn't know about it during that time either, what do you think? Did you know about it yourself? You were in charge you say of the investigation. If you knew, why didn't you tell, if you didn't know then it can't have been a very careful investigation can it? One or the other must be true. Did you know or not?
You must know by now that the break-in gave an unknown intruder access to Heathrow airside close to where the PanAm baggage container (later shown in court evidence to have contained the IED) had stood unguarded the following evening. Where the man loading that container gave evidence at Zeist that he had seen an unauthorised bag which he failed to remove, and that he'd seen it before the Frankfurt feeder flight (PA103A) had even landed at Heathrow.
What verdict do you think their Lordships at the main trial would have reached had they been required to compare the evidence from Luqa airport with the break-in evidence at Heathrow? Would they really then have been able to surmount the hurdle of 'reasonable doubt'? Their Lordships in the trial knew from the evidence led that terrorists had access to IEDs stable at ground level for days or even weeks, but designed always to explode around 40 minutes after take off, courtesy of their air pressure sensitive switches. No human intervention required in airside, except to get one into the target airplane. What if the Heathrow intruder brought one of those in with him? What if he left it with a message in the IranAir facility nearby?
So many queries because there was no scrap of evidence that the break-in was responsibly investigated at the time, that was not your fault, sir, because proper investigation, to be effective, would have had to start before the disaster had occurred, would it not?
Yes, I know that President Bush was trying back-channel negotiations with the Iranians in those days, despite the embarrassing shoot-down of an Iranian airbus by the US Cruiser Vincennes six months before, for which Iran had sworn revenge. That attempted negotiation wouldn't be a legitimate reason for interfering with a criminal trial would it? Not unless one was working in intelligence on one's country's behalf rather than as a criminal investigator.
Might not that break-in be the reason why my daughter's life was snuffed out in an explosion over Lockerbie 38 minutes after take-off from Heathrow with its now proven failed security perimeter?
Before you say 'Ah, but despite the Heathrow evidence, the first appeal failed' let me point out that Megrahi's defence had decided they would not challenge the 'sufficiency of evidence' led in the main trial. That extraordinary decision meant that their Lorships of appeal had no obligation to sift through that main trial evidence. That in turn meant that their belief that the 16 hours between the break-in and the take-off meant that it might be too long for it to be relevant may have been reached without the detailed knowledge of the nature of the available IEDs of which the main trial knew so much.
Did you know about the Heathrow break-in while the trial was in progress Mr Marquise, or did you not?
Do not fear, we are only after the truth, and I don't blog on the internet either. The fact that other well informed people do, makes it very difficult to conceal things for ever these days, doesn't it?