Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The descent

[This is the headline over an article just published on the website of Scottish lawyers’ magazine The Firm by the editor, Steven Raeburn. It reads in part:]

Most coverage of Pan Am 103 deals with the pitiful saga - now in its 24th ignominious year - in increments. The latest Crown Office statement will be reported. The latest US condemnation, repeated. The latest revelation, examined. But that no more gives you an understanding of the issues that require scrutiny than ten minutes of last night’s Eastenders will of the sordid, bloody history of Albert Square. 

Zooming in on the minutiae of the trees obscures the forest we are wandering through, and it must never, ever be forgotten that Pan Am 103 is a story of geopolitics, of US and UK affairs, the implications for the Middle East and oil that resides there. What happens in Scotland is the dance of the puppet, and eyes should be focused on the hands pulling the strings. Anyone who fails to understand this will never grasp the evasive truth of these events. 

UN observer Hans Köchler grasped this essential truth, and criticised the “highly politicised circumstances in which the case was handled" and which he said "drew the attention of the international public to the possible interference of intelligence services from more than one country”. 

He also warned that “the search for truth is abandoned for political expediency and criminal justice…is sacrificed on the altar of political and commercial interests.” 

In short, on a global political level, the Governments involved all have something to hide and have worked strenuously to achieve this. It has become self evident to even the most casual observer that this is the case. (...)

The Government's Pan Am 103 dogma states that the doomed aircraft blew up at high altitude and fell to pieces over Lockerbie. Pretty straightforward stuff. 

Except it isn’t. 

Eyewitness accounts of the Boeing 747‘s final moments suggest the crew were in control of the aircraft at low altitude, a fact that, if established, totally destroys the carefully maintained but bankrupt fiction of the events that support the Crown’s case against Abdelbaset Al Megrahi. 

The issue was probed during the Zeist trial, albeit from a carefully selected group of witnesses for whom this matter was strictly ancillary to the key aspects of their evidence. But testimony nevertheless given by them supports the proposition that the plane may have been intact and under control at low level before being destroyed by the final explosions which broke the aircraft apart. 

For example, during his testimony, witness Roland Stephenson said he saw the Pan Am 103 travelling in a “glide path“, coming in at a “shallow angle". 

“It was showing some form of lights, probably a small flame, no great flame or anything, enough for me to see the dark shape and the passage of the object, which appeared to me to be travelling in what I would call a glide path,” he said. 

“It was coming at a shallow angle. It was travelling from the extreme right of the town to the extreme left of the town. It appeared to be travelling more or less the line of the main road. 

“But it wasn't descending sharply.” 

Cross-examined by counsel if he had any experience of aircraft, Stephenson said he had lived under two airport flight paths, including the famous Kai Tak in Hong Kong where large jets descended amidst the built up central conurbations.

“I used to live in Hounslow West, which is right under the main runway of the approach to London airport. I also lived in Hong Kong on the actual level with the glide path where planes land at Kai-Tak. I was very familiar,” he said. 

And witness Jasmine Bell testified that on the night of the event she saw the plane “just going over my head” at just above roof height, but did not see it hit the ground. 

That again attests to horizontal travel, rather than vertical.
What was the pilot, Captain McQuarrie, doing? There is not enough information to draw a conclusion, but if he had any control at all of his aircraft, enough to coax it into the “glide path” described, it is not unreasonable to hypothesise that he may have been attempting to effect a nighttime landing on the A74, the only possible option to ground the plane in that area of southern Scotland, which would have been lit like a runway beneath him, denoting the only flat ground in the southern uplands. 

That the plane was ultimately destroyed and ended up in pieces around Lockerbie is inarguable, but its journey from cruising comfortably at high altitude down to the ground is not - judging by the available evidence- as clear cut as the dogma would have us believe. It is a journey whose details the Governments of the UK and US are unwilling to revisit. Why, is self evident. It forces a reassessment of the destruction of the plane, something that has been actively obstructed in Scotland where judicial examination is possible. 

The Air Accident Investigation Branch’s report into the fall of Pan Am 103 said that explosives events onboard caused “most of the remaining aircraft to disintegrate while it was descending nearly vertically from 19,000 to 9,000 feet,” after breaking up substantially within seconds of…whatever it was that happened. 

By the time the wreckage fell below 9000 feet it had effectively disintegrated, we are told by the AAIB. Debris in such a state could never be mistaken for an intact aircraft on a horizontal glide path. 
The AAIB description is both completely at odds with the witness statements at Zeist, and some of the related contemporary reporting, as we shall see. (...)
The Scotsman, on 22 December 1988, reported this: 

“Trouble appears to have struck the 747 somewhere over Langholm approximately 13 miles to the east where residents found lumps of aircraft metal and suitcases. 

“The crippled aircraft struggled west at low level, apparently clipping a hill about three miles east of Lockerbie. 

“Mr Jack Glasgow of Mount Florida, Glasgow, said: "We tried to get near the plane but it was completely on fire. There were no bodies about. I don't think there would be any chance of anyone getting out of it. It went up in a fireball." 

“Mr Glasgow said the aircraft hit the road, carried on for about three quarters of a mile and then exploded.” 

Mr Glasgow was not called to give evidence at the Zeist trial, but what he saw speaks more of an intact aircraft covering ground at low level. Not something that disintegrated five miles up in the night sky overhead. 

The New York Times, in its issue datelined 21 December 1988 states the following: 

The Associated Press quoted authorities as initially saying that the plane may have hit a hillside in the hamlet of Corrie, six miles from Lockerbie, and that debris was strewn across the countryside 

“The spokesman at the rescue and coordination center said that the first impact of the plane was in the southwestern corner of the village, which has a population of about 4,000, and that the aircraft had bounced after hitting the ground, spreading wreckage over six areas over 10 miles” 

Those of us who have been in journalism long enough know the significant value of the first contemporaneous reports of any event, before an established narrative has been set and an accepted shorthand has been arrived at. (...) When a determined political machine has an interest in protecting a false narrative for a generation, as happened with Bloody Sunday, the value of those initial reports - overlooked, dismissed or subsequently discredited as contrary to the preferred narrative - becomes clear after history permits a reassessment. (...)

The AAIB is a branch of the UK Government, and every sinew of that Government has strained to sustain the falsehood that is the case against Abdelbaset Al Megrahi. The fact that its conclusions sit so at odds with these eyewitness accounts is simply typical of the geopolitical duplicity that defines this case, and which is so hard for those concentrating on the puppet rather than the puppeteer to either recognise or comprehend. 

Köchler grasped it, and concluded that government representatives had protected their vested interest by ensuring crucial evidence was withheld from the Zeist court. 

“The presence of de facto governmental representatives of both sides in the courtroom gave the trial a highly political aura that should have been avoided by all means," he reported. 

“It was a consistent pattern during the whole trial that − as an apparent result of political interests and considerations − efforts were undertaken to withhold substantial information from the Court.” 

Similar interventions have of course been well documented, at Lockerbie itself on the evening of 21 December 1988, and from every point onwards, including all the way through Al Megrahi’s application to the SCCRC, his second appeal, transfer to Libya and beyond. It has carried on in recent months, weeks and days as the supposed ongoing investigation does all that it can to deflect or absorb external inquiry whilst producing absolutely nothing. 

What is clear is that the available testimony does not sustain the manufactured case against Megrahi. Hans Köchler thinks that this amounts to criminal conduct. Such a stain of criminal culpability requires purging by examination, resulting in either exoneration or conviction. The Pan Am 103 deceased, and Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, cannot rest peacefully while questions of criminality remain unanswered. Judicial reassessment is required. 

[A postscript containing additional eyewitness accounts has been added to The Firm's article on 2 July.]


  1. Whilst I agree with the basic tenet of the piece (I have worked with accident investigation for BAE Systems. The size of the debris field suggests strongly that it was a high altitude explosion and not a CFIT [Controlled Flight Into Terrein]) This: "..the aircraft had bounced after hitting the ground, spreading wreckage over six areas over 10 miles” is manifestly absurd.

  2. Mission Lockerbie, 2012:

    The "Lockerbie Tragedy" on the way to a game of dice without feelings - a slope of wrong thinking - SAD...

    Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Switzerland. URL: www.lockerbie.ch

  3. I was driving from Glasgow to Edinburgh that night and it is my recollection that the first radio report said that a plane had crashed into a petrol station next to the main road at Lockerbie. Most probably BBC news so it could easily be checked.

  4. Dear Professor Black, this is piffle. Fantasy There's nothing at all about the evidence that suggests the plane was still intact at a low altitude, never mind under control. Quite the contrary. The mistaken impressions of a couple of shocked people who could see nothing clearly in the darkness of a stormy night cannot trump the rational conclusions reached from what was found on the ground. Not to mention that Alan Topp saw the plane break up on his radar screen.

    The captain was trying to land the plane on the A74??? What on earth was the writer of this fairy-story smoking? (As far as I recall, the road had no street lights in 1988, so if it was visible at all it would be because of the headlights and tail lights of the fairly constant stream of traffic it would be carrying at 7 o'clock in the evening.)

    Debris from this crash was spread across two countries as far as the North Sea and beyond. The bodies were spread out over a large area, most forming their own hollows in the ground as they were falling at terminal velocity. This is such nonsense I can't imagine why you accord it the oxygen of publicity.

    It reminds me slightly of the man who told the press he'd see Jean Charles de Menezes running along the station platform with the police in hot pursuit, looking behind him "like a hunted fox", before tripping and going down under a scrum of policemen. Should we contend that's what happened, rather than the account painstakingly built up from CCTV camera footage and careful interviews of numerous independent eye-witnesses?

    No wonder it's sometimes difficult to get the Powers that Be to take the JFM petition seriously (for example), when this sort of raving lunacy is attached to the "he didn't do it" side of the argument.

  5. And according to the BBC, some time around 9pm on 21st December 1988, "the village of Tundergarth, in the hills to the east of Lockerbie, is in flames."

    That happened too, I suppose? After all, the BBC said so! It must have been covered up!

  6. Is it genuine? I too am surprised by Steve Raeburn repeating this old eyewitness account, because the Firm website contains far more convincing explanations of why the plane crashed and because the extensive spread of the debris trail and detached cockpit easily disprove the eyewitness account.

    We can only speculate about why the article appeared, but I can see why Rolfe insists on blaming a bomb, because he wants to be taken seriously by those who believe the official conspiracy theory and not be associated with crack-pot theories!

    This is understandable if the primary aim is to overturn Megrahi’s conviction.

    However it was never likely that those responsible for the cover-up would agree to scapegoat someone else for the alleged bomb, because this risked revealing the actual truth about Lockerbie.

  7. The following is from an e-mail sent to me by a person who follows Lockerbie closely and who, for reasons which I understand and respect, wishes to remain anonymous:

    "I have no doubt that the plane descended pretty well vertically and that essentially destruction occurred instantaneously at cruising altitude, albeit with the main wing roots and fuselage diving more or less in one piece. For that not to be true the radar traces would have had to be totally falsified and so would the cockpit voice recorder (unscrambled by the AAIB) which showed instantaneous cut out except for a momentary unexplained noise as the machine stopped working. No time even for an expletive by the pilot. The distribution of the wreckage and the bodies confirm this."

  8. Steven Raeburn, having been unable to post a comment directly, has asked me to post the following:

    "The De Menezes case is a good example of how the information available has to be assessed carefully and the motivations of those who provide it scrutinised carefully.

    "It is a shame that Rolfe descends to swiftly into personal attack. One thinks the Lady doth protest too much. An open mind and a willingness to examine the available evidence is all that is required to get to the truth of these events. Anchoring oneself to a rigid dogma and closing the mind to additonal information is why the Crown's discredited case persists. Those seeking to get to the truth must do better than that.

    "It is worth reminding ourselves that the AAIB provides neither a transcript nor access to a recording of the CVR, and offers no less than five conflicting accounts of the radio exchanges up to the point it cut out. (amongst its many other flaws) The AAIB report cannot and should not be viewed as the 11th commandment."

  9. Yes, I rather thought Steven Raeburn would come along and accuse me by proxy of a "personal attack". He takes advantage of his position to write utterly fantastical articles which give credence to the most wild conspiracy theories about Lockerbie, without allowing any comment on the articles themselves, and then declines to engage elsewhere on the subject.

    The other proxy comment Professor Black posted sums the situation up perfectly.

    I have no doubt that the plane descended pretty well vertically and that essentially destruction occurred instantaneously at cruising altitude, albeit with the main wing roots and fuselage diving more or less in one piece. For that not to be true the radar traces would have had to be totally falsified and so would the cockpit voice recorder (unscrambled by the AAIB) which showed instantaneous cut out except for a momentary unexplained noise as the machine stopped working. No time even for an expletive by the pilot. The distribution of the wreckage and the bodies confirm this.

    An open mind is an admirable thing. A mind so open that your brain falls out is a different matter though.

  10. Dear Rolfe,
    I agree with you that 'the theory of gliding descent of an largely intact plane' seems falsified by the other evidence you mention.

    Since you address your posting to RB, does that mean that you think he should not have posted it here?

    This is an important question, of course.

    Even if it is correct, that it does not exactly help JFM, I don't think we would be entitled to have the position of the court and investigators: filtering out evidence and statements that does not support our cause, for whatever reason.

    That would really be a bomb under our case - just as it has been for the damned court and crown.

    - - -

    That does not mean that I think RB should post every far-fetched theory that somebody might come up with out of the blue. But this is quite a bit better.

    I myself found the piece at least interesting. The first witness, Roland Stephenson, seems very certain. Even if if we say he is plain wrong, well, at least this tells us something about how much eye witnesses can be relied on. And the court's willingness to choose and discard at will.

    And the crash image on http://www.martinfrost.ws/htmlfiles/locherbie1.html (just past the middle of the page) is not exactly a round crater, is it? Maybe the witness is understating the angle, but close to 90 degrees it clearly was not.

    How much vertical speed would be taken from a plane falling several minutes?

    Maybe - I personally find it by far most likely - it does not mean anything at all.

    But let's keep an open mind. Sometimes even wrong ideas points out a real element, that later turned out to be important.

  11. Wow, what a number of posting that crossed mine above.

    This one gave me a good laugh:
    "An open mind is an admirable thing. A mind so open that your brain falls out is a different matter though."

    Right. As with so many things, it's the art of finding the balance.

    I myself find the extreme majority of people willing to stick to whatever belief they got first. I try to be different. At least I think so!

  12. MISSION LOCKERBIE, 2012, doc. nr.8148.rtf (google translation, german/english).
    On the Trace of Evidence Crime with the crucial MST-13 Timerfragment's PT/35; PT/35(b) and DP-31(a):

    The 270 multiple murders in the "Lockerbie Tragedy" of 21 December 1988, not come under the statute of limitations. Therefore still held valid by a Scottish court judgment (2001), that an MST-13 timer had activated the explosive device (IED) what brought the Boeing 747 (flight PanAm 103), to crash.

    What know the ex special FBI agent Richard Marquise (Task Force chief and cordinator, between FBI and CIA) about the crucial evidence crime sequence (PT/35) inside the "Lockerbie-Criminal-Scene" ?

    Supported of an answer by Richard Marquise (comment on Black's bloc,
    29 Sept. 2009) Marquise said:
    5. - that E Bollier says he had been shown another fragment earlier, and that the "latest version" was altered since then.
    --- I do not think Mr. Bollier ever saw the *REAL FRAGMENT --just pictures--"...

    ebol (Edwin Bollier) say: *Why Mr Marquise know that - yes I could never see the real MST-13 timer-fragment (police No. PT/35) with the in-scratched letter "M".
    That makes Mr Marquise very suspect and supports my determined proofs !
    The Real fragment PT/35, only on the evidence lab photo nr. 334, from Allen Feraday (RARDE) I have seen.
    (Q--If we look at 334, Mr. Feraday, what does that show us?
    A- That's a photograph of fragment PT/35 as recovered in the laboratory.
    Q- Is that prior to the removal of any samples?
    A- That is correct. Yes, sir.)

    Fact is, in the Crown Office on 13 -17. Sept. 1999, Procurator Mirian Watson guaranteed me (Bollier) that I could examine the REAL two parts of the MST-13 timer fragment. (see Dumfries police statement).

    My audit revealed - that the greater part PT/35 (b) was not carboniced, and thus clearly descended from a DUPLICATE of a green circuit board !
    The small part DP/31 (a) was caboniced black and was part of the real "manipulated" MST-13 timer (PT/35) board; compared with photo lab picture nr. 334.

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Telecommunication Switzerland. URL: www.lockerbie.ch

  13. SM said Since you address your posting to RB, does that mean that you think he should not have posted it here?

    I did think that, when I posted it. Maybe I was wrong to think so, I don't know. Professor Black is naturally selective in what he publishes on his blog. There is so much stuff around that he has to be. He usually avoids the wilder flights of paranoid fantasy - for example I don't believe he has ever given blog space to the bizarre theories of Charles Norrie (the CIA triggered a huge bomb on the plane by remote control from the ground) or John Barry Smith (the plane crashed because a cargo door failed, and the evidence has been misinterpreted as an explosion), for example. This one is actually madder than either of these two. On the other hand, as a topic for discussion, I suppose it has its points.

  14. Evidence is all-important. If someone says the plane hit a village, or a road, or a particular hillside, and when dawn breaks the village or road or hillside is unscathed, do we accept that he was mistaken in the darkness and the confusion, or do we immediately suppose an NWO cover-up?

    The flight path didn't cross Langholm. The plane was travelling more or less NNW as it approached Lockerbie. Langholm is about 15 miles east and slightly north of Lockerbie - actually at right angles to the flight path. Debris, including some relatively large items, was found as far away as Langholm because of the ferocious westerly gale blowing that night, which deflected falling objects as much as 20 miles to the east because they fell from such an enormous height.

    Although the plane broke up at 31,000 feet, some of the pieces were still pretty big. We've all seen the cockpit lying on the grass. The main fuselage section was just about as big and landed in Rosebank Crescent, with some passengers in it still strapped to their seats. The wing assembly descended more or less intact until it hit Sherwood Crescent, and must have been even bigger. Even those who happened to be outside and looking in the right direction as the pieces fell couldn't have had more than a few seconds' glimpse in the darkness of a stormy night. That some misinterpreted what they saw is hardly surprising.

    Evidence is all-important. So, do we dismiss the evidence of Alan Topp, who watched the plane disintegrate at 31,000 feet in real time on his radar screen? The recorded radar trace has even been shown on television. Faked? Do we dismiss the evidence of thousands of pairs of eyes when dawn broke, and the fuselage was sitting in Rosebank Crescent and the cockpit was about three miles away at Tundergarth and Sherwood Crescent was a smoking crater? (I would agree that the shape of the crater suggests the wings were still gliding a bit and not falling absolutely vertically, but I don't see that makes any significant difference.)

    Were the people in Northumberland, over 60 miles to the east, lying when they spoke of their distress at finding Christmas cards and other light debris from the plane in their fields and gardens? And noted that some had gone further, into the North Sea? This wasn't just the odd scrap - people described the place as looking as if it was covered with litter, and filling many plastic bags with the things they picked up. All shills for the duplicitous authorities?

    Immediate contemporary accounts are interesting of course, but they are often the least accurate. Someone misinterprets something seen fleetingly for a few seconds in the winter darkness, and tells a newspaper keen for something to print about the breaking story. Someone else sees debris in surprising locations, and concocts an erroneous explanation for how it might have got there. It happens all the time. And people with some connection to a "big story" like to tell their tales, and maybe exaggerate a bit. (And often the people with the closest connection are too shocked to talk to journalists at first, and the ones who were further away get a head start with their misinformation.)

    Where was this "fireball" that Mr. Glasgow describes? Where was he at the time? The only fireball was in Sherwood Crescent, and the only large part of the plane that was consumed by fire was the wing section. The rest was retrieved. The NWO might be powerful (in some people's imagination!), but it can't erase the evidence of a fireball in the twelve hours before dawn. It can't un-burn 80% of the plane.

    The idea that the entire AAIB, everyone connected with the pathology service in Scotland and hundreds of ordinary volunteers - as well as the entire Scottish police force - have been single-mindedly lying for over 20 years to cover up an entirely different scenario is paranoid fantasy.

  15. The article above worries me for another reason. The second part changes tack radically to quote Hans Kochler's criticisms of the judicial process at Camp Zeist. Professor Kochler is quite right, of course. The trial was highly politicised and strenuous efforts were made to withhold evidence and steer the progress in a particular direction.

    However, Professor Kochler's words are attached to the preceding farrago of nonsense, in the apparent attempt to imply that he himself would endorse the bizarre assertion that the plane was still intact and under control at a low altitude. Of course he would not. The article doesn't explicitly claim he would, of course, but by juxtaposing the topics, strives to give that impression.

    Maybe it would be more constructive to examine what Professor Kochler was really talking about, which seems to be the strenuous attempts by the prosecuting authorities to conceal the evidence that Majid Giaka was a lying scumbag, for a start. The CIA's soliciting with huge reward offers of any incriminatory tittle-tattle it could gather about the accused is another. The evidence we know was withheld or buried - the break-in at Heathrow, the baggage reconciliation that showed the brown Samsonite John Bedford saw couldn't have been legitimate passenger baggage, the details of the Frankfurt baggage analysis that showed at least six unaccounted-for items loaded on the feeder flight, for a start. What about Tony Gauci's extra five or six statements that were "lost"? What about the metallurgy report on the "timer" fragment? What about the PII certificate document we're not allowed to see?

    There's an awful lot about the way this case has been handled that stinks to high heaven. Promoting ridiculous fantasies that are entirely at odds with the actual evidence isn't a good way to go about getting these things seriously addressed.

  16. Dear Rolfe,
    thank you for most interesting and fact-rich postings.

    How could the enormous spread of debris - which I find documented beyond any doubt - be explained any other way than by a plane disintegrating at great height? I would be very interested to hear what Mr. Raeburn himself would have to say to this.

    Does such an article damage JFM by being quoted here? I don't think so. Yes, of course some will point and say, look at these lunatics - but they will anyway.

    Now, imagine that NY Times got the idea of calling Mr. Raeburn: "We like your article! We will offer you 1000 US for it, OK?"

    What would be better for JFM. A yes or a no?

  17. supplement to doc. nr.8148.rtf:

    MISSION LOCKERBIE, 2012 (google translation, german / english).
    On the Trace of Evidence Crime with the crucial MST-13 timer fragment PT/35; PT/35(b) and DP-31(a):

    Fact is, in the Crown Office on 13 -17 Sept. 1999, Procurator Mirian Watson guaranteed me (Bollier) that I could examine the REAL two parts of the MST-13 timer fragment. (see Dumfries police statement on my webpage).
    My audit revealed - that the greater part PT/35(b) was not black carbonized, and thus clearly descended it was a DUPLICATE of a "green" circuit board !
    The small part DP/31(a) was black cabonized and was part of the real "manipulated" MST-13 timer (PT/35) board; compared with the evidence photo from Expert Allen Feraday (RARDE) lab picture nr.334.

    There must be a serious reason that the real MST-13 timer fragment (PT-35/b) was embezzled for an examination ?
    The real black carbonized (PT-35/b) was constructed (1990) from a "brown" coloured Prototype circuit board (with 8 layers of fiber glass).
    After 10 years, the evidence circuit board (PT-35/b) was shown in Dumfries and at the court in Kamp van Zeist, was exchanged with a Duplicate, "green" coloured (not black carbonized) and consisted of 9 layers of fiberglass...

    Important Background: Libya could be associated with the bombing of Pan Am 103, only with a "green" coloured circuit board (PT-35/b) because Libya was not in possession of prototype MST-13 timers with "brown" coloured circuit boards !

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Telecommunication Switzerland. URL: www.lockerbie.ch

  18. MISSION LOCKERBIE, 2012, (google translation, german/english).

    The wreckage of the jumbo "Maid of the Seas" was spreaded out over many kilometers. Wen PanAm 103 (alitude of 10,000 meters) flew over the northern coast of Scotland, the aircraft was hold as a small green square with a cross in the middle of the transponder and displayed on the radar screen.

    At 19:02 and 47 seconds, PA103 disappeared from the radar screen by air traffic control at Prestwick.
    Where previously flashed a green dot on the radar screen appeared, now four, and began after a few seconds, the squares to disperse further.
    A comparison of the flight data recorder with the radar records showed that hundreds of pieces of wreckage after only eight seconds, already had a scatter over 2 km ...
    Unfortunately no opportunity was given for an emergency landing.

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Switzerland. URL: www.lockerbie.ch.

  19. Thankfully this blog is monitored otherwise it would soon drown in troll and personal comments, particularly now that ‘this spectacular miscarriage of justice’ has become mainstream.

    This is thanks to the steely determination of the JfM committee who focused on overturning Megrahi’s conviction to unlock the truth about Lockerbie.

    The first part, exposing the miscarriage of justice has been achieved, but the second part, overturning the conviction, was never a realistic prospect.

    Those responsible for the show trial were never going to squash the conviction and convict others for the ‘bomb’, because this risked revealing the truth about Lockerbie.

    This is why Rolfe’s desire to be taken seriously by supporting the official bomb theory to get the conviction overturned is logical but naive.

    Logical if you think the wrong person was convicted for the bomb, but naïve to think they would hold a show trial and avoid a public inquiry if there really was a bomb.

    Indeed the whole purpose of the show trial and on-going criminal investigation is to avoid holding a public inquiry and revealing the truth.

    However following Megrahi’s death and no new appeal the JfM campaign is at a crossroads.

    Does it remain focused on the miscarriage of justice and support the official bomb theory or does it reform as a truth about Lockerbie campaign?

    Whatever the decision, this new stage in the campaign is already being taken seriously by the powers that be and is marked by new CIA disclosures pointing the figure at a ‘Syrian backed Palestinian group funded by Iran’ and by eyewitness accounts that spoil otherwise laudable posts!

    The laudable part was the need to re-examine the AAIB report and unstated, the explanation that metal fatigue and a door malfunction combined to detach the cockpit from the plane in 3 seconds - as opposed to a phantom IED.

  20. SM, I think it's essentially neutral. The piece is such obvious nonsense (and I am hardly the only one to have pointed out the shedloads of evidence that contradicts the main proposition) that it's unlikely to gain any traction. There are quite a few mad conspiracy theories about Lockerbie circulating, and I don't think one more will make any difference one way of the other.

    My main concern is that Steven Raeburn is known to be a signatory of JFM, and he's publishing as a journalist in an actual journal rather than as a lone nutter, and this could provide ammunition for those who would seek to undermine the efforts of JFM by dismissing them as crazy conspiracy theorists.

    It's an interesting observation that the epithet "conspiracy theorist" has come to serve as a lazy shorthand dismissal of any argument which challenges an official state version of any event - from the JFK assassination to the moon landings to perfectly run-of-the-mill allegations of a miscarriage of justice. (I note that before they were acquitted on appeal, those who questioned the convictions of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox for the murder of English student Meredith Kercher were being subjected to the same sort of abuse as is rightly accorded to those who contend that George Bush plotted to attack the World Trade Centre in 2001. It was easier than actually addressing the points they were making.)

    The only way to counter this is to stick rigorously to the evidence, and what can be deduced from the evidence with a high degree of probability. Having someone on a signatory list go so spectaculatly "off message" in this way is irritating, but it's hardly likely to be a huge issue in the grand scheme of things.

  21. As a resident of the town of Langholm i can clearly remember the night and was first aware of something happening when I heard a roar and I commented to my 2 children that "That aircraft was very low" as we were used to low flying aircraft in our area. Several seconds later our lights went out for a second or two and then came back on. This must have been when the aircraft hit the ground.I am certain that it blew up over Langholm and the sound I heard was the explosion. I was at that time working in the Air Cargo Industry as Manager of Atlasair in Carlisle and had tried to book Cargo on this flight on the previous Friday for the Wednesday Flight as our company used the Pan Am flight 2 times a week for our consolodations to New York. We were told that the Wednesday flight had a full passenger load and would not be taking freight but when it crashed there were many empty seats. Where had the passengers gone.

  22. Dave, John Barry Smith was divorced from reality in 2003 when he first published that fantasy-tale (as far as I know), and it hasn't got any better. I have no idea why you seem to find his publications so attractive. Nor why you keep spamming him on this blog.

  23. Gavin, I'm struggling to see how you could place the position of the disaster from what you could hear inside a house, especially after dark and with a very high wind blowing. Langholm is only 15 miles (downwind) from Lockerbie, it would be amazing if you hadn't heard something. People in Lockerbie itself spoke of an enormous noice like an approaching train that just got louder and louder.

    I would question whether events at 31,000 feet were so noisy as to be heard on the ground, but the noise made by the descending fragments especially the wing assembly was clearly very loud, and the "explosion" when the wing assembly hit the ground was reportedly deafening.

    I'm not surprised that could all be heard in Langholm, but I don't see how hearing that provides any evidence that the plane was ever overhead Langholm itself. Not when the radar trace shows it flying steadily on-course over the Solway firth NNW to Lockerbie and then breaking up more or less over Lockerbie.

  24. I find it attractive because it is a convincing explanation of why the cockpit detached from the aircraft in 3 seconds.

    Whereas your IED is part of an explanation, that includes a show trial and no public inquiry.

    It’s not spamming because I put my name to it and I think the cover-up was for mundane commercial reasons and nothing to do with the NWO.

  25. Oh, and another thing Gavin, what is your position on the work undertaken for the PCAST investigation, specifically to look at the claims that PA103 was either suspiciously underbooked, or that there had been suspicious mass cancellations before the flight?

    Having looked at the methodology I find it hard to see how it could have been faked. And it's been in the public domain for over 20 years, statistics, tables, graphs and all. And the authors found absolutely nothing to confirm any unusual booking or cancellation pattern on the flight. They compared with other flights on the same route, flown by Pan Am, flown by other carriers, and with PA103 itself both in the immediately preceding days, and the equivalent days in 1987 and 1989.

    All the figures are there, and have not been challenged, and there is nothing to substantiate the rumours. The flight was never fully booked, and no more people than usual cancelled or failed to show up. I've been waiting years for the people who assert that something funny was going on with the bookings to tell me why that paper is false, and nobody ever has.

  26. Dear Commentators,

    JFM does not attribute blame for the downing of 103. It's constitution is clear that any signatory may express their personal opinions, even to the extent of attributing blame, however, to do so in the name of JFM or by using JFM as a tool to give credence to such opinions or by utilising a JFM platform to disseminate such views results in serious penalties. Insofar as any changes to our current objectives go there are none. We continue to campaign for an inquiry and our ultimate aim remains to quash the conviction.

    Robert Forrester (Sec, JFM).

  27. Steven Raeburn has asked me to post the following:

    "Could the contributor 'Gavin' please contact Steven Raeburn via the contacts published on The Firm website?"

  28. Dave, I called it spamming because for weeks you've been posting pretty much nothing but a link to a summary of John Barry Smith's bizarre theory, without making the slightest attempt to put forward an argument yourself. Or even telling people to google for it themselves, which is even worse etiquette. Finally, you go so far as to post a one-sentence summary of his theory. Progress, I suppose.

    Of course Smith never clapped eyes on any of the evidence himself, he is working entirely from the reports compiled by those investigators he alleges were so incompetent. He believes he can see in their reports evidence which to his eye points to a different interpretation. The problem with this is that he is very selective in the evidence he chooses to look at, and very very selective in how he chooses to interpret it. You can write a nice-looking paper if you do that, but it's not going to impinge on reality.

    Perhaps you could explain why you think a simple failure of a cargo door is a perfect explanation for the very rapid break-up of the aircraft, while 450g of Semtex tearing an irregular, larger hole in the side of the plane quite close to the cargo door couldn't have done it? Were the forensic scientists who found traces of Semtex on the damaged luggage lying about it?

    By the way, the link you've been posting is only to a summary of Smith's case. If you want to see the entire production in all its glory, it's here.
    I note it's 2002, not 2003.

  29. I thought there was a bit of deja vu about all this. I note this is at least the second time round, as we covered the same things nearly two years ago.

    I hadn't realised (though I do now) that this is Robbie the Pict again. He likes the idea that the plane was illegally carrying munitions, which accidentally exploded, and he also likes the idea that the crash was a complete accident due to nothing more sinister than failure of the cargo door. Both of which theories at least fit with the observed fact that the plane disintegrated at cruising altitude, but then he also likes the idea that the plane was still intact at 500 feet with its engines on full throttle.

    It's entertaining, but it's so far divergent from the evidence that was found on the ground that it's pretty much alternate reality speculation.

  30. Rolfe, you say a faulty cargo door opening is an irrational explanation for the cockpit detaching from the aircraft in 3 seconds!

    But you say a hole in the side of the plane close to the cargo door, inflicted by an IED, is a rational explanation!

    Either both are rational or irrational, but one is more plausible than the other!

    You describe the 450g semtex IED blast as tearing an irregular, larger hole in the side of the plane quite close to the cargo door and say traces of semtex was found on passengers luggage!

    Are you saying the IED inflicted a larger hole than a missing cargo door – and if it did, would you not expect to find more than traces of explosive residue?

  31. Dave, I wish you would stop asserting I said things I quite patently did not say. Here's what I said, it's right there for you to read.

    Perhaps you could explain why you think a simple failure of a cargo door is a perfect explanation for the very rapid break-up of the aircraft, while 450g of Semtex tearing an irregular, larger hole in the side of the plane quite close to the cargo door couldn't have done it?

    I didn't say anything about a faulty cargo door being an irrational explanation per se. It's an irrational explanation for this particular incident because of the shedloads of evidence pointing to a different explanation. You understand the difference?

    Now could we get back to my original question. Why do you think it's impossible for an amateur-production Semtex bomb (since you seem to dislike the term IED) to have caused the plane to break up at cruising altitude by tearing a jagged hole in the hull, and yet you have no trouble believing that the failure of a cargo door could do it? To me, this makes no sense at all. If something as minor as a cargo door failure could cause catastrophic break-up, surely an irregular blast hole is at least as capable? (In fact it's more capable, because of the strain put on the entire structure of the plane by the explosion.)

    You previously said that NO traces of explosives were found. I pointed out that this was quite untrue. The investigators were able to categorise luggage with respect to its proximity to the blast by the presence or absence of explosives residues on the items. Now, you seem to be saying, "oh but there should have been more!"

    This is wrongheaded for two reasons. One is that Semtex is a very volatile explosive (if that's the right word), with almost all the stuff being consumed in the bang leaving very little residue to find. The second is, they found residue. That rather suggests there was a Semtex device - unless they faked the results, in which case surely it would have been quite simple for them to have faked the right amount.

    You're the one who's hung up on the AAIB report, you go look at the diagram of hoe big the hole was.

  32. Dear Rolfe, I said irrational in preference to your words crack-pot and bizarre. You now say the cargo door explanation is not irrational per see, but only in this case, because of the “shedloads of evidence”!

    But if you consider the AAIB report authoritative then presumably you see no need for a public inquiry, because we already have an on-going criminal investigation to catch those responsible?

    Also your phrases, “a simple failure of a cargo door” and “something as minor as a cargo door failure” are bizarre, because a cargo door opening as the plane was ascending to its flight height in stormy weather would lead to explosive decompression and is a convincing explanation of why the cockpit detached from the plane in 3 seconds.

    This explanation would normally be tested in a public inquiry, but for some reason, one has not been held!

  33. That explanation might be tested, but it would fail, because of all the evidence suggesting that's not what happened in this case.

    Where do you think all the bits of debris came from that, when put back together, showed a baggage container that had been blown apart from the inside? How do you think a bunch of suitcases (and other stuff) happened to be found with traces of Semtex on them? How do you think the "petalled" hole in the aircraft hull came about?

    Who do you think bought the check trousers from Tony Gauci that were found blasted to bits? How did they get into the aircraft? Whose luggage were they in?

    And come to think of it, why would the police forces of several countries be prepared to mount a huge terrorist hunt, all to cover up a simple air accident? And to continue the hunt for years after the airline in question went bankrupt? (As far as the effects on Pan Am were concerned, the terrorist bomb was far far worse than if it had been an accident.)

    There have been a number of genuine accidents to aircraft over the years. All of these have been investigated and willingly identified as accidents. In fact, what then seems to happen is that sometimes conspiracy theories arise claiming that it's all a cover-up because nobody wants to admit it was really terrorism! Why in this one case, would the authorities decide to do the reverse?

    Dave, the evidence that the plane went down because something inside baggage container AVE4041 blew up, and that this was not an accident, is absolutely incontrovertible unless you are being wilfully blind to the evidence. I don't know why John Barry Smith does this. I don't know why you choose his daft theory to slavishly parrot, either.

    We need a public inquiry to find out how our criminal justice system managed to find a man guilty of mass murder on evidence that shouldn't have been enough to support the issuing of a parking ticket. That doesn't mean there was no mass murder. It's perfectly obvious to anyone who has looked at the actual evidence rather than been overly-impressed by John Barry Smith, that there was mass murder.

  34. Following Lockerbie and prior to any mention of Megrahi, Cecil Parkinson promised a public inquiry, only qualified by the need for Mrs Thatcher’s approval.

    This was not forthcoming and to hide her shame, she didn’t even mention Lockerbie in her memoirs!

    This original sin must have been at the behest of America and is the reason lies have begat lies and new crimes are committed to cover-up old crimes.

    Megrahi and the Libyans have been scapegoated to avoid a public inquiry that would have revealed the truth.

    That’s why Rolfe’s call for a public inquiry into Megrahi’s conviction but not the crash itself is confusing symptom with cause.

  35. There is no such confusion, Dave. The reason for calling for an independent inquiry limited to the prosecution and conviction of Megrahi has been explained on this blog many times. It is because these are the only matters that lie undisputably within the devolved competence of the Scottish Government and it is to that government that the call is addressed. Once Megrahi's conviction has been either overturned by a court or shown to be fatally flawed by an independent inquiry, pressure can be exerted for a wide-ranging inquiry into the true cause(s) of the destruction of Pan Am 103, convened by a government (or other organisation) that, unlike the Scottish Government, has the requisite powers and jurisdiction.