Tuesday, 2 October 2012

We are being cheated of the truth

[What follows is Dr Jim Swire’s reaction to the Crown Office’s intemperate statement about Justice for Megrahi’s letter to Kenny MacAskill alleging serious wrongdoing in the Lockerbie investigation and prosecution:]

This is not the time for the Crown Office to proclaim their innocence. It is the time for them to produce credible proof, if such there be, that the very serious allegations lodged against them by the Justice for Megrahi group are false.

According to an article in The Scotsman, the Crown Office recently quoted the SCCRC as having pointed out it had found no basis for the allegation that any 'police officers or officials' fabricated evidence.

So far as I am aware  no one alleges that Scottish police officers or Scottish 'officials' might have fabricated evidence. This claim presumably refers to the circuit board fragment known as PT35b

PT35b, was a crucial prop for the story of a long running timer having  been used from Malta. We now know that it could not have come, as the Crown claimed in court, from the batch of timers sold to the Libyans by the MEBO company of Zurich and manufactured by Thuring AG..

The pattern of tracks on PT35b were a perfect optical mimic of those on a corner of the Libyan boards, yet as John Ashton's book Megrahi: You are my Jury showed in May of this year, the metallurgy used for PT35b was novel and simply not available to Thuring AG, the manufacturer of the Libyan boards.

This combination of optical mimicry in an item incapable of having come from the crucial Libyan owned boards, certainly seems to carry the stigma of fabrication, including that word's modern gloss of 'the deliberate presentation of an object or story with the  intention to deceive'.

There is however as yet no evidence as to who might have fabricated PT35b, only questions about the way it seems to have entered the evidence chain, claimed to have been found inside a Scottish police evidence bag, whose label had been improperly altered by an unknown hand.

Simpler and very serious in its own right is the question of why the Crown Office (and that includes the Dumfries and Galloway police) withheld information about the Heathrow break-in from the defence and the Zeist court.

The defence would have divulged to the CO well before the trial had even started that they intended to lead a defence of incrimination, and this must have included the intention of incriminating the Syrian group called the PFLP-GC and the use of one of their specialised IEDs (bombs).

The details of these bombs were well known to the (West German) police experts with whom the Scottish police had multiple meetings.

The police (and therefore the CO) knew, or should have known, that these bombs were available to terrorists in 1988 and were inert until they sensed a drop in air pressure following take-off. They also knew or should have known that once triggered following take off, these IEDs would always explode 30-45 minutes into a flight.

The Lockerbie flight lasted 38 minutes out of Heathrow.

The Zeist court was told that the Syrian timers were not adjustable, therefore access to the airport of take-off of the targeted aircraft itself was mandatory for the terrorist.

We now know (courtesy of Chief Constable Patrick Shearer in a letter to myself) that the D & G police were aware by January 1989 that Heathrow had been broken into 16 hours before Lockerbie, close to where the PA103 bags were loaded that evening. Yet the defence and the court were denied this evidence until after the verdict had been reached at Zeist.


For the UN special observer to the trial, Prof Hans Koechler, the failure by the Crown to share information such as this with the defence team guaranteed that the trial could not be described as fair.

For me as a father the thought that the terrorist infiltrator might have been so close to my daughter below the corridors of Heathrow airport that night, as to be able to hear their chatter as the passengers headed for the excitement of Christmas in America still makes me very angry. Nothing useful had been done to trace the intruder.

We know that Lockerbie was a revenge attack, however to seek revenge for mistakes made by Heathrow or the Crown Office and their investigators as individuals smacks of a sinking towards the level of the terrorists themselves.

Our search as UK relatives has always been for truth and justice. To that we would dearly love to add a contribution to building something good out of something so evil as this atrocity.

Just as in medicine, curing a cancer may mean curetting out the last vestiges of the tumour, so in this dreadful case we must define what went wrong in the greatest possible detail, if the best corrective steps are to be imposed.for the future benefit of all our people.

As a mature society we need to pass the investigation of and the fall-out from serious crime to a justice system immune to extrinsic interference or the favouring of any interests outside the pursuit of truth. The blindfold on the eyes of justice needs to fit perfectly.

We need to have confidence that this is so, and we need to see justice done and done promptly.

Frankly, I was shocked when the current Lord Advocate, in February of this year, told us relatives that he had wondered why the Heathrow evidence had not been available to the Zeist court but had been unable to find out.

The complaints from JFM surely demand independent and prompt investigation, and their call is for a full and independent inquiry.

As relatives, we have a right to know who killed our families and why they were not protected. How sad that nearly 25 years after their brutal murders we still find that we are being cheated of the truth.

I do not wish to know whether the Crown Office considers itself innocent. I have known the answer to that for years. I wish to see independent and fully empowered minds brought to bear at last upon these issues, to our enlightenment, and to the lasting benefit of all of Scotland's people.

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