Sunday, 16 December 2012

Parties unite in backing over Pan Am probe

[This is the headline over a report by Greg Christison in the Scottish edition of today’s Sunday Express. The report does not appear to feature on the newspaper’s website, but it reads as follows:]

Alex Salmond is under pressure to launch an inquiry into claims that legal officials and police perverted the course of justice over the Lockerbie bombing.

Campaigners have submitted eight allegations to Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary.

The Justice for Megrahi (JFM) group was told to pass evidence to the force, even though its own officers are named in the report.

The Crown Office will also have a role, despite the most serious allegations being levelled against its own prosecutors.

On Tuesday, Holyrood’s Justice Committee voted that a petition from JFM calling for a public inquiry into the Lockerbie investigation should be kept open until the matter is cleared up.

Independent member John Finnie, said the Crown Office is being allowed to “act as judge and jury while accused.”

He added: “Any organisation – and I include the Crown Office – must have mechanisms to deal with events like this.

“Clearly, the Justice Committee needs to understand whether there are some of the mechanisms already in place or can be put in place to ensure that these very legitimate concerns of great public interest are addressed.” 

During the meeting, SNP convener Christine Grahame, who is also a member of the JFM group, was joined by Labour, Lib Dem and Tory MSPs.

JFM secretary Robert Forrester said: “At previous meetings, the Justice Committee split down party lines, but this time they voted unanimously to keep our petition open. And that’s a reflection that the Government – namely Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill – afforded us only one option with  our allegations.

“When we asked him to appoint an independent investigator to study our allegations he recommended us to refer them to the very people we were complaining about.

“It was clear that [the committee] regarded this as a highly questionable way in which to treat our allegations. In other words, it appeared the Justice Committee thought our request for an independent investigator was justifiable, absolutely normal and understandable.

“It has put a considerable amount of pressure on the Government to hold an inquiry.”

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, who died in May, is the only man ever convicted of the bombing, which killed 270 people when Pan Am Flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie, in December 1988.

He always maintained his innocence, and the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission ruled there may have been a “miscarriage of justice” in his trial.

A Scottish Government spokesman yesterday insisted the complaints are “a matter for a court of law”, while the Crown Office declared the accusations “defamatory” and said they had already been rejected in court.

A spokesman added: “If such evidence is produced, Dumfries and Galloway Police will investigate in accordance with well-established procedures in Scotland.”

* JFM, whose members believe the bomb was planted on Pan Am Flight 103 at Heathrow, will outline their allegations in next weekend’s Scottish Sunday Express.


  1. Nothing more or less than to be expected from the Crown here really. Interestingly however, they are no longer claiming that JFM is accusing anyone of having fabricated evidence, nor are they maintaining that our allegations are without foundation, both of which they have done in previous ill-considered outbursts. The fact that they say we are being defamatory amounts to little more than empty bluster given that defamation is an unavoidable consequence of accusing someone of having broken the law. We can agree on something else too; it certainly does all belong in a court of law, and we are very much looking forward to seeing some progress on that front.

    Robert Forrester (JFM).

  2. Now that the extraordinary miscarriage of justice has been exposed, the State will unofficially promote the idea that someone else planted the ‘bomb’.

    They will not allow the media to mention, the more likely, open cargo door explanation.

    This can be tested by JfM by including both possible explanations in their article appearing in next week’s Scottish Sunday Express.

    If the Scottish Sunday Express excludes the open cargo door explanation, this would indicate that this is the explanation the State wants to hide.

    I know Rolfe will repeat the official line, but if the JfM committee retain an open mind awaiting a public enquiry, then the test could be revealing.

  3. The article in next week's Sunday Express is not about possible explanations for the destruction of Pan Am 103. It is about specific criminal acts committed in the course of the Lockerbie investigation, prosecution and trial.

    If eventually an independent inquiry into the Lockerbie disaster is set up, of course explanations other than a bomb (such as the cargo door explanation) should not be excluded. But as matters stand at present, the evidence for an IED being the cause seems to me overwhelming.

  4. I agree, Professor. If anyone has evidence of this "open cargo door" theory, let him bring it forward. I am aware of nothing, other than an entirely fanciful "report" writted by one John Barry Smith, which contains nothing but empty speculation.

    In contrast, as you say, the evidence for there having been an IED among the luggage in the bottom front left-hand corner of baggage container AVE4041 is absolutely overwhelming.

    I believe everyone concerned would have been immeasurably relieved if Lockerbie had been an accident. However, evidence brought in from the fields only three days after the crash showed clear evidence of an explosion having taken place.

    I suppose Dave thinks that the authorities were so horrified by the idea of this being a straightforward air accident that they set about planting fake evidence of a terrorist attack they somehow just happened to have to hand within a couple of days of the crash?

    On the contrary, the last thing they wanted was a bombing. An accident would have been far preferable.

  5. When asked what his priorities will be when he arrives in Libya, Amb. Stevens stated that he wants to help ensure that there is a stable democracy and to find justice in the Pan Am 103 case.

  6. Rolfe may think that by naming John Barry Smith he discredits him, but his open cargo door rather than anonymous 1lb IED, is a more likely explanation of why the plane was destroyed in 3 seconds – that will be resolved at a public enquiry.

    Also he says debris from the crash “showed clear evidence of an explosion having taken place” and claims this proves it was an IED!

    Why not the result of explosive decompression?

    And his assertion that the authorities would prefer the crash to be the result of an accident rather than an IED is silly.

  7. Dave, you keep parroting Mr. Smith, whom you never name (because you seem to think naming him discredits him, I have no idea why), but you never say what you think is so compelling about his thesis. I've read it. I can explain why I think it's nonsense. Why don't you explain why you are so enchanted by it?

    And if you think that an explosive decompression can mimic the effects of an IED in one very specific place in a baggage container, complete with singeing, sooting and local fragmentation, then you don't know much about explosive decompression.

    Come on. Suppose there were a public inquiry, and they said to you, OK Dave, here's your chance to explain why this disaster was an accident, what would you say to them?

  8. I retain an open mind and await an explanation by experts at a public enquiry of why the plane was destroyed in 3 seconds, but until then, I just don’t find the anonymous 1Ib of explosive explanation credible.

    Whereas an open cargo door explanation would fit the bill, if true.

    And perhaps there were explosives on board or other items that exploded because of explosive decompression and not because they were planted to explode. Is there room for doubt?

    My concern about your closed mind blaming an IED is this colludes with the phoney criminal investigation that has been promoted to avoid a public enquiry.

    Still nice to see you are now supporting a public enquiry?

  9. NOW supporting a public inquiry? What do you think we've been demanding for years? Oh that's right - a public inquiry.

    Go on, tell us why you think a failed cargo door is a "likely explanation" for the Pan Am 103 crash? Where is the evidence? Why would a hole caused by an opening door be more likely to cause an explosive decompression than a hole caused by an explosion? Where is the positive evidence for this theory?

    You claim to have an open mind, but all you can come up with is a mind closed against the findings of the AAIB investigation. No matter how much evidence is shown to you of the IED in the baggage container, you wave it away as "not credible". Then you expect others to have an "open mind" for your pet cargo door theory - for which there is precisely no evidence at all.

    Face it, Dave, you just think it's a cool idea. And it's different. So you'll go for it.

    Well, scientific inquiry isn't like that. You begin with an open mind, but then you gather evidence and form hypotheses and gather more evidence to test these hypotheses and so on. In time, once you know enough about the subject, you come to some conclusions. We're at that stage with Pan Am 103, in case you hadn't noticed.

    You're like some idiot coming into a research laboratory where they've gradually, over many years, figured out the cause of a serious disease. You know nothing about it at all, but you've heard a cool story from a quack, so you say to the researchers, you all have such closed minds.

    Heard it all before. It's boring.

  10. Dear Rolfe, both a small hole created by a ‘bomb’ and a larger hole created by an open cargo door will cause explosive decompression – but would a large hole be more likely to destroy the plane in 3 seconds than a small hole?

    And was the burnt clothing and fabricated bit of circuit board that was presented at Zeist also AAIB evidence?

    I know JfM have been campaigning for a public enquiry, but I got the impression from your posts that there was no need, because you know who did it?

  11. Dear Dave

    Agreed, the 'cargo-door theory' could fine explain why an airplane could fall down. It has happened in one case (Turkish Airlines Flight 981, 1974) and other cases have been close.
    I have not seen an example of total mid-air disintegration as a result, but OK, Panam 103 could be the first.

    However, the details leave me in no doubt. While there is always the possibility that evidence is faked, the nature, timing and scale, and number of people involved makes it impossible.

    Here is a reconstructed suitcase:

    Are you suggesting that this is a result of a sudden decompression, from 1 atm, to near zero? Surely, such a very sudden decompression could tear a suitcase apart, breaking it in its seams.
    But the suitcase on the picture has been very near an detonation. The discussion is about how near, and is very detailed.

    Other suitcases were found in one piece, just broken from the impact with the ground.
    One famous one is the one found by farmer Wilson, containing something that looked like drugs.

    - - -

    Here is one of several cargo containers:

    And another one, close to the first:

    One is ripped into pieces, of which several are not even retrieveable.
    The other one looking like it could almost be restored. In the verdict below it says "...with two exceptions there was no damage to containers other [than] to be expected...".

    The whole discussion is about matching evidence of observed damage to a likely scenario of how the suitcases with the bomb (or, by all means "bombs") were arranged, and what can be concluded from the details.

    From the verdict we can read:

    "As part of the reconstruction process, the recovered pieces of containers were reassembled, principally by Mr Claiden, an engineering inspector with the AAIB. When this was done, it was ascertained that with two exceptions there was no damage to containers other than was to be expected from the disintegration of the aircraft and the containers’ fall to the ground. It was however found that there was unusual damage to an aluminium container AVE 4041 and a fibre container AVN 7511. From the loading plan of the containers it was ascertained that AVE 4041 was situated immediately inboard of and slightly above the shattered area of the fuselage, and AVN 7511 was situated immediately aft of AVE 4041. The reconstruction of AVE 4041 demonstrated severe damage to the floor panel and outboard base frame member in the outboard aft quadrant, and also on the internal aspect of that part of the container there were some areas of blackening and pitting."

    - - -

    Matching 'decompression'? Made up?
    Well, you will have to accept one or more of those, won't you?

    I can't, not at all.
    In contrast, I have not seen one single compelling argument for the cargo-door theory.

  12. (part 2)
    From experience, I know that there is no amount of evidence that will convince everybody. This can be a good thing, even if annoying. :-) From time to time, the dissenters turn out to be right. It can of course also waste time or do damage. Hundreds of thousands of people died as a result of Mbeki picking up 'HIV does not cause disease'.

    You ask:
    "And perhaps there were explosives on board or other items that exploded because of explosive decompression and not because they were planted to explode. Is there room for doubt?"

    Obviously, but there is never a shortage of possibilities. Unless supported by evidence, it is all just in our minds. By ignoring above I can think of any number of ways of explaning the Panam 103 disaster (meteorite, rocket or crash with another flying object, metal fatique, insane pilots, fuel shortage, exploding spraycans or a child's chemistry set or a collective illusion I am part of), but unless I can point to evidence, I don't expect much attention or credit for my creativeness.

    People working with something will always have to choose a path. It is impossible to get work done if 27 other theories, however ill-supported, has to be given attention. People who try to determine the speed of Titanic when hitting the iceberg, will get nowhere working with people, who believe that explosives were detonated along the side.

    I fully accept the cargo-door theory's right to exist, but until its followers come up with something that stands up, it just can't be on the table in any work done by JfM.

  13. SM has more or less covered it.

    Dave, which cargo door? Where is your evidence for a cargo door having failed, and which one? You have presented no evidence at all, simply repeating that it's a cool idea you find attractive.

    I could give you better actual evidence for it being aliens that did it. (The anomalous returns on the radar trace might be a UFO, hey, keep an open mind and all that!) Until you say more than just repeating that you find the idea attractive, nobody is going to take you seriously. Maybe it was the fairies at the bottom of the garden! That's a nice idea too, and we have to keep an open mind....

    As for the size of the hole, the initial size is fairly irrelevant. A small hole with petalling will become a large hole in no time at all.

    Personally, I think the bit of circuit board was fabricated, and that it wasn't introduced into the evidence until about a year after the actual disaster. The evidence suggesting that the provenance was back-dated is kind of hard to ignore. A year into the investigation is a plausible time for spooks to start playing their little games. Just my opinion though, and I can't prove it. (Yet.)

    The rest of it, and in particular the blast-damaged luggage container, isn't in that category. The pieces of blast-damaged container were brought in within a few days of the crash. Blast-damaged suitcase fragments were identified at about the same time. This is incontrovertible - the finds were reported in the newspapers contemporaneously.

    So, if you think the crash was an accident, you have to explain how the authorities were all ready and waiting with fabricated evidence to plant to pretend this unexpected accident was a terrorist attack, and they managed to get the fake evidence out there and plant it almost immediately. How could they accomplish that? Why would they want to do that? Accidental air crashes occur from time to time, and are reported as such. The usual conspiracy theory is people believing that the authorities are covering up a terrorist incident by pretending it was an accident. Your take is at least original, even if completely batcrap crazy.

    Of course, if you read everying with as little attention as you do my posts, then that might explain why you understand so little about the case. I have never claimed to know who did it. All I can say for certain is that the brown Samsonite suitcase with the bomb in it was present in the baggage container at Heathrow an hour before the flight from Frankfurt landed. That blows the Crown case apart completely.

    It is absolutely vital we have a proper, independent inquiry into how the hell the investigtors managed to get it so wrong, and believed that the bomb had come from Malta, when there was no evidence at all of anything untoward happening at Malta and the evidence for the bomb being introduced at Heathrow was sitting there as plain as it could possibly be, from January 1989.

    Where it goes after that, well, I have my ideas, based on the evidence, but that's for a new police investigation to establish. If they can manage to do a competent job on it this time, and the trail is still able to be followed after 24 years, that is.

  14. SM, it would be a mistake to believe that a vast conspiracy, rather than a handful of people, is needed to hide the truth.

    In this case the sequence of events was the President told the Prime Minster who told the Transport Secretary not to hold a public enquiry.

    And this followed advice from the Head of CIA that an enquiry should be avoided for national security reasons.

    And without this official enquiry we can only speculate about what happened.

    We do have the AAIB report, but has its contents been spun to mean more than it says?

    For example, IED has been spun by others to mean bomb, but an IED is not necessarily a bomb, which is perhaps why they needed to fabricate some evidence?

    And again one person, the Head of CIA has overseen the media spinning about ‘the Lockerbie bomber’ and the Crown Office’s handling of this case.

  15. That's nothing but candy-floss. An IED is an amateur bomb, as distinct from professionally-manufactured military ordnance. This has been explained to you several times, but you continue to assert ambiguity where there is none.

    How are you imagining anyone was able to fabricate evidence that was found within three days of the disaster? Because that's how soon the evidence of an explosion was recovered.

    A whole bunch of people have been spinning like a microhaematocrit centrifuge, but the reasons for that can only be speculated about. I can think of a handful of plausible ones without breaking sweat.

    And none of them involves a failed cargo door.

  16. Dear Rolfe, evidence of blast damage caused by an explosion was found, but not evidence of a bomb, which is why the report mentions an IED.

    IED is spun by others to mean bomb, but a bit of fabricated circuit board was still needed at Zeist to turn this IED into a bomb.

    But without the fragment there is no evidence of a bomb, just of an explosion.

    You say an IED is an amateur bomb, but why would an amateur bomb be used in such a high profile attack in such an amateur way?

    After all, the amateur bomb could fail to explode and the suitcase could have been easily moved or removed from the plane?

    And even if 1lb of explosive was enough to detach the cock-pit from the frame in 3 seconds, wouldn’t someone have claimed responsibility?

  17. So, how did the shattered and singed and blown-apart fragments of baggage container, suitcase and clothes get that way, if not by the action of an explosive charge within the container?

    You still don't understand what an IED is, or maybe you don't want to understand. It's a home-made bomb. It was still a home-made bomb once the PCB fragment had been found. And the evidence for there being a bomb in there was the evidence of the damage that could only have been caused by an explosive charge.

    If you investigate terrorist attacks across the world, you'll find that the vast, vast majority of them use IEDs - home made bombs. The IRA and Hamas and the PLO and all the rest of them. They don't often have access to military munitions, and even if they do, such things are not really suitable for concealing inside radios to fool airport security screens. Explosives still explode even if they're not in a box with the name of a "respectable" arms manufactorer on the side. And a skilled bomb-maker is no more likely to make a dud than BAE Systems.

    I've forgotten how many terrorist groups claimed responsibility for Lockerbie now. I think it was into double figures.

    Dave, this is really tedious. You're just thrashing around blindly to find some way to support a cool, off-the-wall theory you read. This is a sad waste of a mind.

  18. Blast damage could be inflicted by an IED or bomb or by other items and explosives that were not loaded to explode, but the only remains of the alleged ‘bomb’, was a fabricated bit of timer?

    In a recent post it is reported that the Lord Advocate has re-launched an investigation into what he calls an act of “state-sponsored terrorism”.

    If true, wouldn’t the perpetrators have had access to a ‘real bomb’ rather than an IED and claimed responsibility?

    You say many groups have claimed responsibility, but previously you said you didn’t know who did it, or are their claims unreliable?

  19. "You say many groups have claimed responsibility, but previously you said you didn’t know who did it, or are their claims unreliable?"

    Why, no. They are highly trustworthy, every one of them.

  20. Goodness, terrorists must do exactly as Dave thinks they ought to do, or else they don't exist, is that it?

    The trench-coated baddie with a sinister black mask tiptoeing off carrying a large black sphere with a burning fuse at one end and the words "BOMB - Acme Explosives Inc" painted on in white letters is confined to Warner Bros cartoons.

    Real terrorists do things like concealing Semtex inside radios. That way it doesn't get noticed on airline security checks. That sort of thing is called an "IED". It is also a bomb, just as an apple is also a fruit. You don't use an orange if you're making apple pie.

    How so you know that one of the groups who claimed responsibility didn't do it?

    And which cargo door do you think was the one that failed, and how do you explain the very very obvious blast hole in the plane's fuselage which isn't anywhere near any of the cargo doors?