Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The perception filter

[This is the headline over a long and detailed article about the Lockerbie case by Steven Raeburn just published on the website of Scottish lawyers' magazine The Firm. The first few paragraphs read as follows:]

“Lockerbie”, whatever that word now means, is a stain on Scotland, its justice system, and its institutions. Since the release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, “Lockerbie” has allowed Scotland to bear the scorn of US senators, the angst, bloodlust and ire of bereaved families who feel they have been denied justice, and has become both a hot potato and a political football between Edinburgh and London. Governments around the world are prepared to condemn Scotland for the international embarrassment of Lockerbie.

Whatever that word now means.

I’ve been covering the Pan Am 103 debacle for a number of years now. A tragic event that became a 22 year long rolling news story. It’s a story that won’t go away, because the answers thus far yielded by due process satisfy no one.

For this reason, Scotland sadly deserves its shame, disgrace and international condemnation. But certainly not for the reasons offered and repeatedly churned.

The story of the Lockerbie events has been allowed to be drowned out by one version, promoted, if not manufactured, by US intelligence and repeated by our own prosecution service and our government, in denial of later revelation, who maintain even to this day that they "do not doubt the safety of the verdict against Abdelbaset al-Megrahi,” despite it being utterly discredited, in addition to adjudged a possible miscarriage by our Criminal Cases Review Commission. It continues to be upheld, with every opportunity to address it spurned or frustrated. Perhaps its last chance for resolution rests with the Scottish [Government], who have until 10 December to respond to the public petitions committee and advise if they will hold an inquiry that may bring some clarity to what has become an international scandal.

The scandal is not that Scotland released a mass murderer. It is that we allowed a man to be convicted as one in the first place, and have done nothing to erase the stain of what could be the greatest miscarriage of justice ever perpetrated by our courts.

[The full article can (and should) be read here.

Lockerbie trial UN observer Professor Hans Köchler and Justice for Megrahi signatory member Professor Noam Chomsky have written to Steven Raeburn to congratulate him on this article.]



    The "Lockerbie Affair" not transfer in a myth...

  2. I scanned the article for now. Some good stuff, a quote on my big list for Mr. Raeburn finally. Some of the facts he goes on to cite I disagree with.

    John Parke's observations might be valid, but I'd need more information. It implies a wholly different blast than alleged, meaning much of the fuselage and structure of the plane almost had to be swapped out to cover it up, plus a whole different luggage container, probably. Chances are she was sitting nowhere near the actual blast cite - 2nd bomb clue!)

    But that this is consistent with thee later work of deBraeckeleer and Wyatt is meaningless. Wyatt only looked at debris size after differing blast levels. He didn't prove anything about the blast having to be stronger or different, except that for the surviving evidence were shown (timer fragment, radio remains especially), the blast would have to be much weaker than reported. I don't think anyone buys that.

    And if I gather right, deBreackeleer found the blast needed to be more powerful than reported to rupture the hull. I don't think it went into the type of explosive or its location. I tend to agree with him, gut instinct, so long as he's thinking maybe 25-75% more powerful, not 50 times. Some evidence from investigators themselves suggest the container damage (valid IMO) is more consistent with about 650 grams, as opposed to the 350-450 usually reported.

    Anyone know the best and fullest explanation for Parkes' recollection? Or an accurate seating chart that gives names we could check for age?

  3. Reading Parkes's own account in his own words makes it pretty clear he's a raving nutcase. He's put two and two (his interpretation of the little girl's gravel friction injuries, and the story about the sewing machine needles) together and got several billion. He's barking.

    The sewing machine needles were actually found in Rosebank Crescent, all together in one small area. This is entirely as you'd expect if a box of needles had burst on impact with the ground. If a flechette bomb had gone off as Parkes suggests, they would have been widely scattered.

    Also, Maid of the Seas was in fairly constant (or at least regular) radio contact with ATC throughout the flight. There was nothing especially coincidental about it being in conversation with Shanwick when the explosion occurred.

    It's true that only a very small amount of evidence led to the conclusion of the bomb in AVE4041, and I'm not sure I could totally rule out some scenario emerging where it's all turned inside out and a completely different scenario constructed. The idea does my head in, but it's a possibility that has to be borne in mind.

    However, to jump from this vague possibility to Parkes and illegal flechette bombs and so on is batsqueak insane, and I really really wish Steven wouldn't ruin all these otherwise great articles he writes by pushing that scenario.

  4. I've been asked by Steven Raeburn, who was unable to access the comments facility, to post the following:

    "The article makes no reference at any point (no pun intended) to needles or flechettes.

    "I do not know who 'Rolfe' is, but do feel free to get in touch. I am happy to engage and discuss any comments or criticisms on my work.

    I may be emailed at

    "I am interested to know how Rolfe sourced the confident claim about the crew’s contact with ATC, in the absence of transcripts or data from the AAIB report.

    "No doubt I’ll hear from 'Rolfe' directly.

    "Steven Raeburn"

  5. Hmmm.

    I'm obviously not as familiar with the details. He was theone who proposed fletchettes too? Agreed, that would be a double leap and a very bad sign. We should require some other evidence, like from the plane itself, in the area she was seated, or something. I haven't seen anything like that yet.

    Anyway,unwise promotion of a rather bogus-seeming theory aside, it's a good and detailed article with spots of brilliance. The kudos is not misplaced.

  6. Adam, it certainly is not misplaced. I found the article very interesting indeed. Steven Raeburn has done a lot of good work in recent months appearing on News programmes here explaining various legal processes in a manner which connects with ordinary people who are perhaps lost in all this Megrahi stuff since the release. People like him are important in this debate and highly respected too.

    And what a very polite response Steven sent here too. What a gent.

  7. "Lockerbie trial UN observer Professor Hans Köchler and Justice for Megrahi signatory member Professor Noam Chomsky have written to Steven Raeburn to congratulate him on this article."

    I would just like to say I did too! ;)