[The following is from an article in The Independent on Monday, 7 June:]
A controversial new play exploring a "rift" between the families of victims of the 1988 Lockerbie aircraft bombing has been condemned as "exploitative and irresponsible".
The Families of Lockerbie, which opens this week in Nottingham, portrays how three characters left bereaved by the bombing respond to the release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the only person to be convicted of the attack. (...)
Michael Eaton, the play's author, claims its characters are "wholly fictional creations" who represent the dominant opinions of families on either side of the Atlantic.
In the 20 years since the tragedy, bereaved families have expressed differing views on the case. While some British relatives have claimed that Megrahi was wrongly convicted, many American families are convinced of his guilt and have voiced their disgust over his early release.
Jim Swire, whose 23-year-old daughter, Flora, died in the disaster, said: "I don't want to be dramatised. I think it is exploitative, and a responsible producer of the play would have taken the trouble to speak to the families. I suppose he might have found things which ran contrary to his theories." (...)
Eaton said: "What I'm interested in is the very different responses from the US and Scottish families. Twenty years ago they were unified. At the end of every report about Lockerbie we read a quote from the families, and I watched those comments get further and further apart.
"There were three responses: the first was about revenge; he did it and was found guilty and so should never be released. The second is people who thought that the prosecution didn't really have a case. And the third is: 'We weren't allowed to have our loved ones die in the bosom of our family, but that is no reason to deny this man that'."
The playwright is hoping that the production will tour the UK, and even the US. A spokesman for the US families voiced their fears about how an American character – Laura, the widow of a US Marine killed in the bombing – may be portrayed.
"The families are not full of anger or desperate for revenge," said Frank Duggan, president of the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103. "We are certainly not united in our view of his guilt, but no US family has said anything negative about another family."
A video posted on the internet featuring interviews with the actors has also sparked anger among the victims' families, after they referred to the bombing as a "crash".
Mary Kay Stratis, whose husband Elia G Stratis died in the bombing, said: "I would strongly suggest that the actors inform themselves and consequently their speech, and their acting portrayals, by understanding that they are portraying the family members of the victims of a mass murder."
[The following is from an article in today's edition of The Scotsman:]
The bombing of a passenger jet in the skies over Lockerbie killed 270 people and was the worst terrorist atrocity in the UK.
Now the tragedy is to be brought to the stage in a hard-hitting show at this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe, The Scotsman can reveal.
The efforts of leading Scottish campaigner Jim Swire to find the truth about the bombing of the Boeing 747 will be the focus of a one-man play at one of the biggest venues, Gilded Balloon.
The show is based on an unpublished book that Mr Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the disaster, has worked on for years with author and Lockerbie researcher Peter Biddulph.
Written and performed by multi-award winning Fringe veteran David Benson, Lockerbie: Unfinished Business is billed as "a hard-hitting piece of political theatre with international relevance".
It will explore the conspiracy theories behind the blowing up of Pan Am flight 103 over the Dumfriesshire town on 21 December 1988, the impact of the disaster on Mr Swire's life and the continuing search for justice for the 270 victims. (...)
Mr Benson, previously best known for his portrayals of Kenneth Williams and Noel Coward, said he would not be attempting to impersonate Mr Swire, although the show would be told from his point of view.
He said: "I've had an interest in Lockerbie for some time and came across the website Jim and Peter have set up to try to get their manuscript for the book published, and contacted them through it.
"Peter had already been looking at getting some kind of play off the ground, but it's now a one-man show, which is really about Jim's dogged pursuit of truth and justice since 1988, and where that has taken him."
Mr Swire admitted he had had little involvement in the development of the play, and was concerned it could increase tensions between the families of the victims in Scotland and the US.
He added: "The book, which we're still hoping to get published, is a full account of the campaign, which is obviously being updated all the time.
"We are still trying to secure a public inquiry after all this time and that campaign is still going on with the new government at Westminster."
Mr Biddulph said: "Publishers are just too scared to take on the book for fear of being pursued by lawyers, so it's great that the play will be at the Fringe."