Thursday, 12 August 2010

Megrahi's role

[This is the heading over a letter from Tam Dalyell in today's edition of The Scotsman. It reads as follows:]

In his lead letter under the heading "Megrahi was no innocent bystander" Robert [Durward] writes accusingly: "What is known is that al-Megrahi was a Libyan secret service agent who spent a lot of time overseas and who had access to bank accounts stuffed with cash. Perhaps he was buying fine art for Mr Gaddafi. We may never know but the inference that he was an innocent bystander is not credible."

Yes. But Mr Megrahi, in Barlinnie jail, told me that he was a buyer (ie sanctions buster) for spare parts for Libyan Arab Airlines and the Libyan oil industry, including material for Brown and Root, and scoured Europe and Africa to find equipment forbidden to Libya by American-inspired sanctions. I believed him.

The activities of a sanction buster are totally different from those of a mass murderer.

[I had deliberately ignored the Durward letter. Anyone interested in reading it can find it on The Scotsman website.]


  1. [Excuse this as not being directly relevant to today's post - it's more related to the medical records item, and the Senator interest]
    Interested in why they need medical notes now - it must be because they know there will be plenty of the abbreviations BP in there, presumably. The fact that it will mean Blood Pressure rather British Petroleum will be an insignificant detail not worth clarifying. It makes me wonder how sincere they are about anything, if they are prepared to deviate off topic as soon as one line of enquiry goes cold.
    In the pursuit of sincerity, I plugged some keywords and dates into the Google News archive. The archive collates by date all news items made available over the years by the Google search engine.
    I looked at three spans of dates; 1.The last five months of 2009 which included the release of Megrahi 2. The first four months of 2010 when nothing much was really happening in relation to Megrahi. 3. Nearly four months from May to the 12th of August this includes all the BP stushie.
    I searched for two different sets of keywords; 1.” +macaskill +Lockerbie bomber” – Using MacAskill here as the control variable – the assumption being as soon as he is mentioned in a news item it is because there is interest in the release of Megrahi from some quarter. 2. “ +kerry +Lockerbie bomber” – Using John Kerry because he is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee into the link between BP and Lockerbie, and because he complained at the time of Megrahi’s release.
    Looking at the ratio of news items for both characters mentioned; During the last five months of 2009, MacAskill had 104 times more news coverage than Senator Kerry on the release story. Presumably, MacAskill was being asked to explain his decision and Kerry was complaining about that decision. During the first four months of 2010, the ratio is ‘infinite’, or in layman’s terms, MacAskill is still the subject of news items regarding his release but Kerry is not cited during this time (not once) – so his interest had waned, considerably. The last few months since the beginning of May, which includes the oil spill and the subsequent renewed interest of the Senators; Kerry has now closed the ratio gap considerably, MacAskill had only 4 times more news coverage than Kerry. So Kerry’s complaining 26 times more now than he did in the months after Megrahi’s release – mmm, that’s counter to what I would have expected of someone whose primary interest was the Megrahi release. Considering there has been no revelatory evidence directly related to Megrahi’s release over the three spans, it is tempting to conclude that the interest on Kerry’s part is solely down to the publicity to be gained as part of the attempt to link it with BP.
    Aye, okay… so I’m biased.

  2. I wouldn't worry about the ignorant Mr Durward, whoever he is. Any claim that Mr Megrahi was a LSO/JSO officer essentially comes from the perjuring Mr Giaka or is CIA spin.

  3. "Interested in why they need medical notes now"

    They weren't entitled to them at the time and they aren't entitled now. They are a foreign country and this is outwith their jurisdiction.

  4. Excuse me Jo, but in case you hadn't noticed, the majority of the passengers aboard PA103 were American. Granted the juristiction for the trial and appeal were Scotland, but the events leading up to conviction, include the UN agreement, which is indeed beyond just Scotland and the UK's jurisdiction.
    AND let us not forget the fact that Megrahi remains convicted as GUILTY, hence (regardless of his palatial residence in Libya), still a guilty prisoner, required to check in with Scotish authorities on a regular basis.
    Perhaps Professor Black might enlighten us as to convicted prisoners' rights and "entitlement" of the public with regard to prisoners' records and what the convicted are and are not privy to excluding / disclosing, as well as Scotland's Freedom of Information act, relative to release and medical records.
    Last I checked Scottish tax payers' money supports Greenock prison. Does this make it a public entity, subject to the freedom of information act?

  5. Sorry for the typo, meant: jurisdiction.

  6. The freedom of information legislation specifically exempts personal information, such as medical records, from disclosure. This applies just as much to persons in a state-funded institution (like a prison) as to the rest of us. There is no way in which Mr Megrahi's medical records can lawfully be made public (as distinct from being available to to the prison authorities) without his consent. The Scottish politicians who have been clamouring for their release are perfectly well aware of this.

  7. Bunntamas, have you acknowledged yet that you were mistaken about Libyan Arab Airlines being in charge of security for the whole of Luqa airport, Malta, in December 1988?

    It seems you have ceased debating the evidence, and are merely now falling back on a bald assertion of guilt based on the original court verdict. This, frankly, is the equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and humming real loud.

  8. Professor Black: Thank you for your clarification on FOI legislation.

    Rolfie: I'm not sticking [my] fingers in my ears and humming.... Just sticking to the evidence & considering no one else has been brought up on charges.
    RE LAA: Jo gave me a bit of a start per litigiousness of LAA, but as I mentioned in another comment, I doubt they would come after me. I'm sifting through my doc's trying to find where I read the bit about LAA security. I think it's a declassified DIA doc including hundreds of pages from way back. Stay tuned. When I find the info. I'll post a link to the .PDF and cite the page number.

  9. Jo's comment was about the litigiousness of Air Malta, not Libyan Arab Airlines.

    If LAA had been in charge of security at Luqa Airport in Malta, I'm sure the prosecution would have led evidence of this at the Zeist trial. They didn't.

  10. Sorry, my mistake. Meant to write Air Malta re: Jo's comment on litigiousness. I'll keep looking for that file.
    As we all are well aware, there is a LOT of information / evidence(?) for and against, that was not led at trial, and at the first appeal, and that was dismissed by the SCCRC.

  11. Sorry, my mistake. Meant to write Air Malta

    I think you've done that before. But we await the PDF.

  12. Bunny, I did indeed advise caution and it was good advice. You can look for the file and find it if you want to. Air Malta produced documentation proving that no unaccompanied luggage travelled on that flight. The baggage matched with the passengers and no reports were received that any passenger lost baggage. All baggage was accounted for.

    I made the other significant point that Air Malta had already taken legal action against another broadcaster who implied it had flown unaccompanied baggage to Frankfurt. The matter was settled out of court and Air Malta was compensated for the claims made by Granada Television. Companies usually settle out of court when they are going to get their, as you would say, asses kicked. They cut their losses and pay up before it even gets to court!

  13. Sorry, my mistake. Meant to write Air Malta re: Jo's comment on litigiousness. I'll keep looking for that file.

    Are you still seriously trying to allege that LAA was in charge of security at Luqa? Seriously?

    Look, I wasn't at Zeist, and even I know better than that.

    Now, about that litigation, I've found my reference. I'm sorry, it's a printed book and there's a limit how much I'm going to copy-type.

    Granada TV broadcast their drama in 1990. AM sued for libel, and ended up accepting £15,005 (plus costs of £500,000), saying they weren't interested in a large pay-out. The book I have reproduces a chunk of their statement as it was read out in court. The statement describes the security procedures and their effectiveness, and includes the sentence "Luqa is a small airport with Air Malta as its sole handling agent."

    Air Malta also sued The Independent regarding a report they published in 1989. That came to court too, though I don't know if they settled again or it came to judgement. The Independent "agreed to pay a substantial sum to Air Malta by way of compensation, together with its costs."

    So, not just once but twice.

    It's not just the libel courts though. The trial court at Zeist said, "The absence of any explanation of the method by which the primary suitcase might have been placed on board KM180 is a major difficulty for the Crown case." The during the appeal, Lord Osborne remarked, regarding the possibility of an unaccompanied bag on that plane, "there is considerable and quite convincing evidence that that could not have happened."

    So, Bunntamas, what do you know that over-rules all that?

    As we all are well aware, there is a LOT of information / evidence(?) for and against, that was not led at trial, and at the first appeal, and that was dismissed by the SCCRC.

    Megrahi was convicted because the judges decided he bought those clothes from Tony Gauci, and that he was at the airport at the time the bomb went on KM180 (though he was not convicted of having been involved in actually putting the bomb on board). The rest of it is just froth.

    It gets better though.

    The judges decided the clothes were bought on 7th December rather than the much more plausible date of 23rd November, because they'd decided Megrahi was the purchaser, so it had to be that day.

    They decided Megrahi was the purchaser even though Tony Gauci never claimed he was (actually said he wasn't, but he resembled the man), because Megrahi was at the airport when the bomb went on board.

    And they decided the bomb went on board at Luqa because Megrahi was there at the appropriate time.

    They got away with this blatant circular reasoning because they're judges. The rest of us have to do better than that.

    Carry on.

  14. I think Prof Black enlightened you very well indeed about Medical Records and Freedom of Information Bunny so I have nothing to add. He did is so well! : )