Sunday, 20 February 2011

Could forgotten papers hold Lockerbie clue?

[This is he headline over a highly speculative article by Ben Borland in today's edition of the Sunday Express. It reads in part:]

Forgotten papers belonging to a Lockerbie lawyer killed in a car crash on the first day of the bombing inquiry could hold new clues to the disaster.

The widow of solicitor Michael Hughes, 37, has revealed she still has most of the documents from his near two-year investigation into the circumstances of the disaster, having never been asked to hand them over.

Mr Hughes’ tragic death, as he was representing American relatives of the 270 victims, threw the largest legal hearing of its kind in Scottish history into disarray.

Some Lockerbie families and Scots MPs were already unhappy at the relatively limited scope of the Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI), which ran from October 1990 to March 1991 and cost £3million.

It has since emerged that key details were not disclosed to the public or even withheld from the probe altogether for national security reasons.

And according to a friend of Mr Hughes, who asked not to be named, the lawyer had spoken shortly before his death of sensational new evidence that would “blow the case wide open”.

Now Mr Hughes’s widow Felicity, 57, from Pollokshields, Glasgow, has revealed she still retains many of his papers, although she admits he had probably taken much of what he knew with him to the grave.

“I don’t think we’ll ever know what Michael knew, if he knew anything,” she said. “I was never aware of a cover up, nobody hinted at that. Nothing ever came back to me. If they know anything, I know nothing about it.

“Michael’s papers from the inquiry, I possibly have some. I got his papers. I got a pile of papers from his office, put them in a box and put them away. Michael’s files – I have them, nobody else would have them.” (...)

But a colleague of Mr Hughes clearly recalls a conversation in late 1990. “He told me that he had information that would blow the case wide open,” he said. “He never gave me any more details and I think he regretted it as soon as he had said it.”

The FAI determined that the bomb was hidden in a radio-cassette player in a suitcase which was “probably” put on the plane at Frankfurt from a non-Pan Am flight.

Some critics argued the hearing did not have a wide enough scope to investigate alleged blunders by the security services. Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died on board Pan Am Flight 103, has since established the FAI was never told of a break-in at the luggage sheds at Heathrow on the night of the bombing.

In 1996 it emerged that five public immunity certificates had been signed in relation to the hearing, quashing potentially vital evidence. (...)


  1. I would think that any vital information would have been covertly removed a long time ago.

  2. “He told me that he had information that would blow the case wide open,” he said. “He never gave me any more details and I think he regretted it as soon as he had said it.”

    If this was true, it would've been quite likely that Mr Hughes was murdered.

  3. The answer to Ben Borland's question is No.

    Michael Hughes' job was "to liaise with the American lawyers, Kreindler and Kreindler, and to decide who was going to represent the victims..."

    Errr... was that the same Kreindler & Kreindler American legal firm which creamed off $300m in contingency fees from the $2.7bn compensation package paid to the Lockerbie relatives by Libya?

  4. Ruth, if you read the newspaper reports of the circumstances of the accident in which Michael Hughes died, you'll see it was impossible for it to have been arranged or staged in any way.

  5. I wasn't aware that the FAI concluded that the bomb was "probably" put on the plane at Frankfurt. I understood it came to this definitive conclusion on the basis of the unsubstantiated submission of the Lord Advocate's Deputy and successor Andrew Hardie QC.

    Indeed following PM Major's claim to the House in June 1996 that the investigation was "open" I wrote to the PM pointing out the Police had made a colossal blunder in eliminating Heathrow and pointing out who built the bomb and how, where (Heathrow) and by whom it was introduced. The response was a letter from the Aviation Security Branch of the DoT drawing my attention to the conclusion of the FAI that the primary suitcase arrived at Heathrow unaccompanied from Frankfurt on flight PA103A, a conclusion based on dubuious logic that was explicitly repudiated by bthe trial judges. If the bomb was contained within a brown samsonite then it is irrefutable that it waqs introduced at Heathrow. It transpired the investigation was "open" only if you agreed with the nonsensical conclusions of the Fatal Accident Inquiry.

  6. I think the investigation was "open" because it was convenient to be able to use that as an excuse to fob people off. It was "open" in the sense that they agreed Megrahi didn't do it on his own so if anyone ever gives us any leads to anyone else who was supposedly involved, we'll follow it up.

    The FAI's reasoning for determining the bomb was interlined into Frankfurt redefines "tenuous", and as you say it was completely surreal. Those cases where shuffled like a pack of cards at Frankfurt and had another little shuffle when PA103A was unloaded, and there was no way the interline ones were in any particular place in the container.

    Everying about the alleged Malta connection was concealed from the FAI - the Erac printout, the provenance of the clothes, Tont Gauci, even the Miska bakery. Mowatt had NO reason at all to conclude the bomb came into Frankfurt as interline baggage, except that this is what he was told to conclude by the investigating officers.

    He had all the evidence he needed to see the bomb bag was introduced at Heathrow - including Derek Henderson's evidence which was concealed from the Zeist court, that none of the passengers was carrying a brown Samsonite. The only reason he ignored that was that the cops were busy telling him they KNEW for a fact the thing had come into Frankfurt as interline baggage, trust us it's a certainty but we just can't present the evidence, and he bought it.

  7. Hm, interesting-sounding story, but perhaps a molehill. How hard is it now for Mr. Borland to pick up that box and have a look? Watching for the story after that.

  8. Well as Mr Hughes' son I was not happy with the tone and manner of the report. I will be contacting Mr Borland asking for his sources. I can also confirm that my mother was not aware of the reasons for this report. She was in fact told it was a commemorative piece.

    No information was ever removed from the possession of the family, and as a solicitor myself and having seen the documents referred to I can assure you there is nothing controversial in there.