Friday, 3 September 2010

Real Crime: Yvonne Fletcher

There was something defiantly old-school about Real Crime: Yvonne Fletcher (ITV1): the unnecessary reconstruction featuring an Yvonne Fletcher lookalike who didn't look anything like Yvonne Fletcher; the newsreel footage of the British ambassador's wife singing the national anthem at Tripoli airport; Leon Brittan looking and sounding every bit as smarmy now as he did when he was home secretary in 1984.

As a recreation of a time when Libya was considered a major threat, Real Crime worked well. But it wasn't a period pastiche; it was a documentary about the shooting of Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy while policing an anti-Gaddafi demonstration. And here it rather came apart, not so much in the retelling of the events leading up to her death and its aftermath, as in presenter Mark Austin's insistence that it was telling us something new.

According to Austin, the existence of a secret document that says two Libyan embassy workers, Muhammad Matuq and Abdulgader Baghdadi, could be prosecuted for conspiracy to murder is a major new development. Not to the rest of us, it isn't. Within days of the subsequent embassy siege ending with all Libyan personnel being granted safe passage back to Tripoli, it was an open secret that Matuq and Baghdadi were the most likely suspects. (...)

I can understand the frustration of Fletcher's family and friends, given that her alleged killers now have top jobs in the Libyan government; but including personal pieces to camera from former colleagues ("She has been denied justice") and an SAS man ("We should have gone in there and killed the lot of them") is neither enlightening nor helpful. If the programme really wanted to explain the reasons for the absence of a trial, it could have gone a great deal deeper into the complex diplomatic and trade links between Libya and the UK; and to mention the Lockerbie bombing without adding that there are strong doubts about Libya and Megrahi's involvement was a serious miss. Still, I guess that doesn't count as Real Crime.

[The above are excerpts from a TV review by John Crace on The Guardian website.

A related article by Ian Black, the paper's Middle East editor, can be read here.]


  1. You can see why MI5 might have been part of any plot to show Libya guilty of the Lockerbie bombing. Don't forget the matter of the Eksund, found by Jige |Bruguiere to have been carrying materiel (i.e. Semtex) for the PIRA to Nothern Ireland

  2. Read this article,

    TERMINAL VELOCITY, Were British & American intelligence involved in the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher?
    By David Guyatt

    for a more enlightened view. If they set up Libya once, why not twice?

  3. Very useful post Ruth. I don't entirely believe the official explanation for Fletcher either.

    But I've forsworn doing anything but Lockerbie, and so many other stories stink

  4. Really,

    Mr Ian Black is not to be trusted. He is a well know affiliate of MI6.

  5. ITV's Real Crime failed to meet the standard set by the Channel 4 Dispatches documentary film Murder at St James's which disputed that Yvonne Fletcher was fired upon and killed by someone in the Libyan embassy.

    Instead, the Dispatches film alleged that the anti-Gaddafi organisation Al Burkan, which was allegedly funded by the Reagan White House, had obtained a gun from the Hein terrorist group in West Berlin, and used it to kill Fletcher with a single shot from the sixth floor penthouse at 3 St James's Square - the building adjacent to the embassy. According to the film, the head of Al Burkan, Ragab Zatout, planned to overthrow Gaddafi and seize control of Libya's oil wealth after the severing of diplomatic relations, but his coup attempt on 8 May 1984 was thwarted by the Libyan army.

  6. Very useful Patrick.

    But I think they will need a lot od convincing.

  7. For a truly magnificent performance by Sir Teddy Taylor exonerating Libya from both WPC Fletcher's murder and the Lockerbie bombing, please select this clip from the archived 24 February 2004 edition of BBC Radio 4's Today Programme:

    0832 With Libya claiming no part in the killing of WPC Yvonne Fletcher, we spoke to the film director, Michael Winner, who founded the Police Memorial Trust.

  8. Early on, say around 1993, I met Sir Teddy, who invited to the HoC for tea; (a rare privilege which may escape many in the US).

    My theory was not well developed at the time, and all I could say was that I did not believe the case against the Libyan 2 over Lockerbie, but were seemed to be on much firmer ground about the Libyan (4 or 6), I cannot recall which over UTA.

    It was a very good cup of tea, and I left somewhat cheered. Would I have been if I had known that I would still be embroiled 15 years or so later?

  9. After a five-year absence from the Internet, the 1997 Channel 4 Dispatches two-part documentary "Murder in St James's" has just been uploaded to YouTube. Part 1 can be viewed here and Part 2 here.