Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Phony forensics

[This is the headline over an article in the current issue of Private Eye.  As reproduced on John Ashton’s Megrahi: You are my Jury website, it reads as follows:]

The last Eye’s revelations that the Crown had kept secret a report which undermined prosecution claims about the circuit board fragment used to convict Abdelbasset al-Megrahi of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing has prompted justice campaigner Jim Swire to raise further questions.  The fragment, said to be part of the bomb’s timing device, was said to have been found by scientists embedded in blasted shirt remains, and the evidence bag in which it was discovered had been altered by someone who was never identified.

Furthermore, the fragment had tested “negative” for explosive traces and there were discrepancies about how it was stored, tested and identified. It had been passed between UK scientists and the US investigators who came up with the “match” to timing devices supplied to Libya thus linking the country and Megrahi to the bombing, which killed 270 people, including Dr Swire’s daughter, Flora.

“Now that we know that it was always known that it could not have been part of a Libyan timer used in the bomb, where did it come from?” asked Swire. So far there is no indication that the Crown Office has chosen find out.

Nor, says Dr Swire, is it looking into the break-in at Heathrow 16 hours before the departure of Pan Am flight 103. This information was also withheld from Megrahi’s trial – although it had been disclosed by the time of his appeal. As he told the Eye: “I would like to know why this myth about the fragment and Libyan bombs from Malta is still being used to conceal the truth, and why the real perpetrators remain free from ever being brought before any court for this crime against humanity.”

Earlier this year the Scottish newspaper The Herald confidently reported that two of the leading lawyers involved in the Lockerbie case were about to become high court judges. It said that the judicial appointments board had recommended for the bench the former Lord Advocate Colin (now Lord) Boyd QC, who led the prosecution of Megrahi, and Maggie Scott QC, who led Megrahi’s abandoned appeal, along with Michael Jones and David Burns. 

Lord Boyd was recently criticised by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission for failing to disclose crucial information about a series of CIA cables referring to its Walter Mitty-like “star witness”, Abdul Majid Giaka, a so-called double agent, which completely undermined the witness’s credibility (Eyes passim). But guess who failed to make the judicial cut out of the four candidates? Only the troublesome Ms Scott. She declined to discuss the matter with the Eye.

[The full text of the statement made by Dr Swire to Private Eye reads as follows:]

As you say, we now know that the circuit board fragment simply could not have come from one of the Libyan owned timers. The metal coating on the copper tracks is profoundly different from that on the Libyan boards.

You might like to highlight the fact that the circuit board fragment was claimed to have been found by the British Forensics expert Allen Feraday inside a Scottish police evidence bag.

Now that we know it could not have been part of a Libyan timer used in the bomb, where else could it have originated? There was no scrap of evidence led at trial that anything found among the wreckage could have been an electronic device from which it might have come.

The evidence bag in which it turned up was the only evidence bag found to have had its label altered (by an unknown hand). The legend had been altered from the original 'charred cloth' to read instead 'charred debris'.

To speculate, it sounds as though whoever went to the considerable trouble and risk of altering the contents and the label, was anxious that debris other than just the cloth should be found by the forensics guys on searching the bag's contents.

To speculate again, had it been my shirt collar, I think I would have changed my shirt before so much debris had accumulated in the fold of its collar. Nor would I probably have been wearing a shirt easily traceable to the Gauci shop in Malta in the first place. The debris found within the collar's folds included the imitation Libyan timer fragment as well as some pieces of black plastic, conveniently traceable to the Toshiba radio/cassette machine in which the bomb was said to have been housed.

Returning from speculation to the real world, there is no evidence for any source for the fragment from the wreckage, other than allegedly from the bomb, and we now know that the fragment could not have originated from a Libyan timer anyway.

On top of that we also know from independent explosives testing of various sizes of Semtex bomb, that it is all but impossible that the fragment could have survived in any recognisable form from the proximity of a Semtex explosion big enough to destroy the 747.

So where might this much-travelled fragment really have come from? Was it not gross negligence on the part of the Scottish police to allow their evidence bag to be corrupted both as to content and labelling?

It has emerged that the Lord Advocate as head of the Crown Office prosecution service in Scotland can actually dictate to the police what aspects of a murder inquiry they should pursue. So far they have chosen not to investigate how the fragment got into their evidence bag, nor who changed their label

Another aspect of this case which 'the police decided not to pursue' was the break-in at Heathrow 16 hours before Lockerbie. If, as most now believe, an air pressure sensitive bomb from the PFPL-GC terror group in Syria really brought down the plane, then it would have been necessary for the perpetrator to have access to the hold of the target aircraft at the airport of origin since the bombs always exploded 35-45 minutes after take-off, and so could not have been flown in from say Frankfurt as the prosecution claimed.

The Lockerbie aircraft duly flew for 38 minutes, from Heathrow to Lockerbie.

What was the prosecution's input over the Heathrow break-in? Well according to the current chief constable of the Dumfries and Galloway police (copied below), they were told all about it by the Met. in January 1989, but suppressed it, and in conjunction with the Crown Office failed to pass any information about the break-in to the defence until after the verdict against Mr Megrahi had been reached.

What was the current Lord Advocate's reaction in February 2012 when I challenged him as to why the Heathrow evidence had not been available to the court?

1. His staff pointed out that the evidence was used in Megrahi's first (failed) appeal at Zeist.

2. A spokesperson for his office later publicly claimed that the Crown Office did not believe that the evidence would have altered the court's verdict.

I would like to know why my innocent daughter and all those others walked through the halls of Heathrow that night trusting in the security that would be given to them in those days of known heightened terrorist risk, when in fact the airport had made no effort to trace the intruder of the night before.

I would like to know why a totally spurious myth about Libyan bombs from Malta is being used to this day to conceal the truth, and in the process allow the real perpetrators to bask in the sun, free of the fear of being brought before any court for this crime against humanity.

How does this behaviour of concealing the truth about the largest terrorist slaughter ever to occur in the UK fit into the renowned 'war on terror', in whose name we still send our young men to risk their lives in Afghanistan?

Why does our Prime Minister continue to profess belief in the Megrahi verdict?

Why does Scotland's First Minister do the same?

I remember President Clinton's famous comment 'It's the economy stupid'.

Reprobate pre-Thatcherite that I am, I believe that human life and honesty are more important than the power conferred by wealth. There are such things as right and wrong, people know that and we ignore them at our peril. 

[Because of commitments at Gannaga Lodge -- an internet-free zone -- over the next few days, it is unlikely that I shall be able to service this blog until Monday, 18 June.]


  1. MISSION LOCKERBIE, 2012. doc. 8139.rtf. (google translation, german/english):

    The Court at Kamp van Zeist presented to witness Edwin Bollier, a fragment of a MST-13 timer, PT/35(b) which had no fire damage on it and was a green coloured DUPLICATE !
    It was not like the original MST-13 timer fragment (PT/35) pictured on the lab photo no. 334 of expert Allen Feraday (RARDE)

    Witness no. 335, Mr. Allen Feraday testified that the black carbonize MST-13 circuit board (PT-35) on photo no.334, was the original timer fragment as examinated in the laboratory.
    Excerpts from court documents of Kamp van Zeist:

    Q- I see. Could we then, whilst keeping that photograph on the screen, look at photograph 334. And is it possible to have 330 as well. And if it's possible,
    could we magnify 330. If we look at no. 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.
    Q- We have on the screen the photograph number 334, which you told us a moment ago was one of the orginal photographs of the fragment taken at your laboratory? (Allen Feraday) A- It is indeed, sir, yes.
    Witness number 548, Edwin Bollier.
    On Court in Kamp van Zeist, witness Edwin Bollier, desired by advocate depute Mr. Turnbull, to assessment the original MST-13 Timerfragment (PT-35) tested by expert Allen Feraday (RARDE). Evidence photo no. 334.

    The fragment (PT-35) was sawn into two parts of the company Siemens on 27th April 1990. Both cuts, nr. 353 = PT/35(b) and nr. 419 = DP/31(a) was given at the witness table by Edwin Bollier for assess.
    The larger section of (PT-35) was not agreed with the original black carbonized PT/35, on photo No. 334. The section now known as PT/35(b) was not black carbonized, but with green colour solder stop paint coated (no fire damage !)
    The small section of DP/31(a) was still original (black carbonized) from a prototype MST-13 circuit board.

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Telecommunication Switzerland. URL:

  2. Some dubious claims:-

    (a)Alan Feraday claimed to have found the timer fragment in a Police evidence bag.

    (b)The present Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway admitted that evidence of the Manley break-in had been suppressed. The text says "see below" but where?

    (c) "The Crown office failed to pass on any information to the Defence about the break-in until after the verdict against Megrahi was reached. Did they not pass on Manley's statement?

  3. It requires a leap of logic to blame a ‘Syrian backed Palestinian group funded by Iran’ for the ‘bomb’ because of a break-in at Heathrow.

    Heathrow is an airport teeming with people and is allegedly broken into all the time by crooks hoping to steal from baggage and these ‘break-ins’ allegedly often involve staff using a key Hopefully things have improved!

    In other words you don’t have to actually break-in, to break into Heathrow, unless your aim is to leave evidence of a break-in!

    And if you don’t have a key, why not just leave the bomb in the crowded foyer?

    And yet speculation about this break-in is the ‘evidence’ for believing the ‘bomb’ must have been put on board at Heathrow, because the time of take-off and explosion fits with how a known air pressure bomb works.

    And yet the AAIB report doesn't mention a bomb.

    However another explanation is the plane crashed because of its location in the sky. It was ascending to its flight height during stormy weather when the air pressure on the cockpit would be extremely high.

    This combined with old age and a door malfunction could explain why the cockpit broke from the plane in 3 seconds and was the first part of the debris trail.

    So why not speculate about this explanation and re-examine the AAIB report.

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

    Disclose of the Scottish "Lockerbie- Affair" (not meant the real bombing of PanAm 103) is a legacy of courage...

    Today - 40 Years after be known, is the Watergate Crime Scene almost Forgotten.
    The media reporter Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein had helping to uncover this Criminal Scene in the USA -- congratulations.

    Almost, after 24 Years, the Lockerbie- Crime Scene Is still concealed under National Security of the Scottish Parliament.
    Which Politician or Lord Advocate in Scotland has the courage to uncover finally, the Backgrounds in the "Lockerbie- Affair" ?
    Justice for Libya, now (NTC of Libya) and for Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who died.

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd Switzerlnd. URL:

  5. Hello!

    Today I made a video/voice recording explaining WHY I think Carlos Ghosn knows information about the crash. Yesterday I was told by Mark Silverman (former Ben Bradlee winner... top News editor in the USA) that the goal "most likely" is for the "issues to fade away" and I think that's morally wrong. Many Americans like myself believe the Lockerbie families deserve better than that. I do NOT know who did it all I know is that there was a cover up. My hope is someday the mainstream media will give you respect.

    Sharyn Bovat
    extra links

  6. Dave, the AAIB report doesn't support your contentions. The AAIB report provides ample evidence of an IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICE. Not a "bomb" in the sense of military ordnance, rather the sort of cobbled-together device terrorists use.

    You have been reading John Barry Smith. I have read it too. The man is bonkers.

  7. Rolfe, please read your comments before you post them. You say “not a bomb in the sense of military ordinance rather the cobbled together device terrorists use”!

    So an anonymous cobbled together device did it, and yet no one knows how it got on the plane, why it was so devastating and why the culprits never claimed responsibility.

    I’ve invited you to look at websites that dispute a bomb and all you say is they must be bonkers. Please explain why, if you can.

  8. No, sweetie, you first. You explain what it is about that drivel that convinces you.

    Most of us have a pretty good idea how the IED got on the plane, and why it was so devastating.

  9. And another thing:

    The AAIB report uses the term Improvised Explosive Device (IED).

    This is very significant because an IED is not the same as a bomb.

    An IED can be a fire extinguisher or any other everyday item that in a situation of catastrophic de-compression becomes explosive.

    And yet some have used IED as a euphemism for bomb, but if a bomb was responsible the official AAIB report would have called it a bomb for accuracy.

    Therefore you should reasonably conclude that if they say IED rather than bomb, it is because they mean IED rather than bomb.

    And even if the rest of the AAIB report is as accurate as its use of the term IED, is it telling the whole story?

    This is why it should also be re-examined for omissions.

  10. They do mean IED. That's what 450g Semtex with a detonator stuck in it hidden in the innards of a ghetto-blaster actually IS! WE call it a bomb, loosely speaking, just as we call what the IRA was playing with "bombs", but these were all IEDs. The AAIB report uses the correct term, which is IED, to distinguish it from military ordnance, you know, the things armies equip themselves with.

    So if you think you're seeing something highly significant in the AAIB report calling an IED an IED, I think you need to think again.

  11. Rolfe, you draw a distinction between IEDs and military ordinance but a bomb is a bomb, whether assembled in a factory or the garden shed.

    Therefore the AAIB report should use the word bomb and then explain what type of bomb was used, particularly as an IED is not necessarily a bomb.

    You say the IED was a cobbled together device containing 450g of semtex!

    Is this amount of semtex sufficient to destroy a Boeing 747 in 3 seconds and without leaving any explosive residue?

    See the Firm website: Explosive analysis concludes semtex “scientifically implausible” in Pan Am 103 explosion.

  12. Who are you to dictate to the AAIB what vocabulary they should use? You're digging yourself deeper with every post. The AAIB report is perfectly clear. It is you who are confused.

    I'm afraid the Firm is one of the outlets that is rather prone to promoting scientifically implausible conspiracy theories.

  13. Dear Rolfe, if a Public Inquiry into Lockerbie is held, it would inevitably involve a re-examination of the AAIB report.

    Therefore if you support a Public Inquiry, it is inconsistent to oppose a re-examination of the AAIB report.

    The AAIB report may be beyond reproach, but should you take that for granted?

    Maybe it has avoided some revealing scrutiny because the CIA has encouraged people to only speculate about who did it, rather than about what caused it.

    This is why research into the size of the ‘bomb’ is relevant. You say a ‘450g semtex IED’ would be enough, but I found the Firm website report more convincing.

  14. You're welcome to espouse any far-fetched conspiracy theory you like, no skin off my nose.

    As I already said, I have no objection at all to a re-examination of the AAIB report. I doubt anything significant will be found, and in particular I doubt that any conspiracy sufficiently advanced to include everyone involved with the Lockerbie investigation then planted deliberate clues in the report so you could say, ooh look they didn't say "bomb", that proves it was an inside job. But hey, knock yourself out.

  15. Even when they are under great pressure to be complicit in a cover-up, senior civil servants are extremely reluctant to lie in official reports. Instead they hide the truth with euphemisms and omissions.

    And fabricated words can be inserted into reports, by others, just as timer fragments can be inserted into evidence bags.

    The report can then be spun, by others, to mean something beyond its true content. For example, the AAIB report uses the word IED, but others, only use the word bomb.

    This is significant because although an IED is a euphemism for bomb, the test for proving the presence of a cobbled together IED using every-day items, is lower than that needed to prove the presence of a factory made bomb!

    This is because if the component parts of an IED are in a room, but un-assembled, they are not a bomb.

    But if an external event was to detonate the components parts the resulting explosion could sound like a bomb.

    And because an IED can be made of every-day items there may be no evidence of the IED remains, whereas you would expect to find remains of a factory made bomb.

    Therefore it is easier to allege (and difficult to disprove) an IED rather than a bomb.

    Despite this you may still think it reasonable for the AAIB report to say IED.

    But in context it seems odd to me, because of the dubious claim that a ‘450g semtex IED’ destroyed the plane in 3 seconds without leaving any explosive residue!

  16. What do you mean, without leaving explosive residue? Of course there was explosive residue. They classified pieces of luggage by whether or not they tested positive for explosive residue, allowing them to guess how close they'd been to the IED.

    You sound as daft as those fruitcakes shouting "9/11 was an inside job!".

  17. Dear Rolfe, the website: ‘Boeing 747 Pan Am 103 not brought down by bomb explanation’ explains the situation regarding explosive residue.

    You draw attention to A&E9/ but I think it is better to stick to the subject rather than debate other controversial events.

  18. Hello, full circle!

    Your pet website is a load of conspiracy-theory bollocks. It's fruitcakes like that who make it harder for everyone else to put forward an evidence-based case for a miscarriage of justice, because it's all too easy to look at the kooks and dismiss everyone as being as divorced-from-reality as they are.

    How often do I have to say it? John Barry Smith doesn't have a clue. He didn't have a clue years ago when I read his fantasy the first time, and he still doesn't have a clue. Please quit with this uncritical spamming of an idiot's nonsense.