Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Here's to 2013 and to getting to the truth behind Lockerbie

[I wish a very happy New Year to all readers of this blog.  Here is what my friend Auntie Jo posted a few hours ago on the Friends of Justice for Megrahi Facebook page:]

A Happy Hogmanay from Scotland and a Happy New Year when the bells strike twelve. Here's to 2013 and to getting to the truth behind Lockerbie. We are making progress. Let's all decide what we can do as individuals to take forward the work of JFM. Let's storm our MSPs and MPs, let's challenge the media for allowing the clear evidence challenging that flawed verdict to be cast aside. Let's take them on. It can be done. Thank you to JFM for the efforts you make to keep those of us out here informed and right behind you! And thank you for these pages where we have met up with others from all over the place who share a common aim: justice. We know how much of your personal time that takes up and we are grateful. You have the Crown Office on the run and a Justice Minister who can't cope with the prospect of facing you up front. That means you are doing something right. You have all of them rattled. Together in 2013 we can all rattle them a bit more! To all: Slainte!

[And here are two snippets from today’s newspapers, catching up on the recent story in Scotland on Sunday and on Alan Clark’s play The Lockerbie Bomber:]

Families of Lockerbie bombing victims have accused a Scots author of being a “cheerleader” for the man convicted of the terrorist atrocity.

Best-selling writer James Robertson has campaigned to clear the name of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

And his latest novel, which is billed as being “inspired by the Lockerbie bombing”, tells the story of a university lecturer whose wife and daughter are killed in the terrorist atrocity in 1988.

The story mirrors the life of Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was one of the 270 victims.

American relatives of some of the victims claim Robertson is part of a “cottage industry of deniers” about Megrahi.

Frank Duggan, of the US-based Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, said: “If the book is inspired by the Lockerbie bombing and the author believes Megrahi was not guilty, it will not rise to the top of my reading list.

“I guess James Robertson takes the position that it was not Megrahi but some other Libyans who were guilty.” (...) [RB: I suspect that Mr Duggan’s guess is as misconceived as most of his Lockerbie statements.]

Robertson was unavailable for comment about his novel The Professor of Truth, which is out in June.

But he is convinced Megrahi was the victim of a miscarriage of justice. -- Daily Record

A furious mum whose daughter was among the Lockerbie death toll has hit out at a play which makes the bomber a VICTIM of the airplane terror blast.

Outraged Susan Cohen, 74, branded writer Alan Clark’s show “despicable” for its claim that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was wrongly convicted in a cover-up over the murderous atrocity.

A total of 270 people, including 20-year-old American Theodora, were killed when Pan Am flight 103 was blown out of the sky over the Dumfries-shire town in 1988.

But Clark includes Libyan Megrahi’s name in a dedication to the casualties of the horror attack.

Shaken Susan, of New Jersey in the US, said: “Megrahi murdered my daughter — he’s not a victim. It is repulsive to put Theodora’s name in with his.”

“Does he have any idea how horrible that is to the families? It’s despicable and so insulting to those who lost relatives.” Clark — who writes under the name Kenneth N Ross — directs and stars in the drama at Alloa’s Alman Theatre next month.

The plot centres on bereaved parents, investigative journalists and US government officers whose lives have all been affected by the bombing.

Clark, 59, of Larbert, Stirlingshire, insisted he hopes his debut play will help fuel calls for a public inquiry. He said: “I started with an open mind but after a year of painstaking research I came to the conclusion Megrahi was set up.

“The play is dedicated to the victims of the outrage and their families. I believe Megrahi is the 271st victim so he is included.” (...)

Clark’s play is backed by Dr Jim Swire, 76, whose daughter Flora died in the attack and who has campaigned for Megrahi’s conviction to be overturned.

He said: “I welcome the play as it tries to shed light on what happened when the investigation went off the rails. I believe Megrahi was wrongly identified.” -- The Sun


  1. Shaken Susan, of New Jersey in the US, said: “Megrahi murdered my daughter — he’s not a victim. It is repulsive to put Theodora’s name in with his.
    Does he have any idea how horrible that is to the families? It’s despicable and so insulting to those who lost relatives.”

    It is so easy to understand the pain of Mrs. Susan, a pain which is even stronger this time of the year.

    I wonder how it would be to run into her one day. I am sure she would never have heard about SCCRC's decision. About Guaci's testimonial history and the promise of money made to him before trial, the mounting problems with the timer fragment, the quality of some of those who testified for the prosecution. Malta's statement about its counting of suitcases, the discrepancies recently pointed out by Rolfe, and Hans Koechler's reports.

    I am also sure she wouldn't want to hear. What good would it do, apart from bringing her pain?
    She has found closure in the most painful event in her life. She needs to know, that the man and government who killed her daughter, beyond reasonable doubt, is dead and gone.

    But it is exactly for the mothers of this world that the work of JfM must go on. Not even Mrs. Susan would disagree, that many more daughters is likely to be killed if cover-ups and political convictions of scapegoats would go unchallenged, and the responsible walk free.

  2. SM

    I doubt that Susan Cohen hasn't heard of the SCCRC position on this conviction. She almost certainly will have,just as US politicians have and UK and Scottish politicians have as well. They have ALL, without exception, chosen to ignore it. We also have two Parliaments here in the UK who have ignored the SCCRC grounds and even additional information/evidence that has emerged since. There is a reason for that.

    Susan will undoubtedly know of the Air Malta position too SM. During the trial they produced documentary evidence showing that every bag was accounted for and that none made the journey unaccompanied. She will know.

    Some of the statements Susan Cohen has made over this matter are deeply offensive. When she is on the attack she is vicious towards those who simply want to see real justice taking centre stage in this case and we want the truth. She attacks us. I'm sorry for her, certainly, but I am also intrigued by her absolute and stubborn refusal to read, or listen, to a single word that questions the original guilty verdict. If I had lost a daughter and there was the slightest doubt that the wrong man was convicted I would be devouring every ounce of evidence I could get access to and moving heaven and earth to get to the truth. Susan Cohen is defending her own version of the truth and that, given her loss, is truly sad indeed.

  3. I will not comment on anything Frank Duggan might say. The man has shown himself to be a complete idiot on too many occasions to be taken seriously.

  4. Dear Jo,
    thank you. After googling, I see that Mrs. Cohen is more than usually outspoken. Like:

    "I detest Megrahi, he was monstrous, and I hope his death was extremely painful and horrible. ... I felt happy when Colonel Gaddafi died..."

    She should realize that there are millions of people in the world have seen their own children die as results of US aggression, and that there will be responses, driven by hate and unfair to those targeted.

    I wonder what she'd say about the USS Vincennes/flight 655 matter?
    If she ever considers that those angry over Megrahi's reception at his return to Libya should draw a direct parallel to the medals awarded to the Vincennes' officers?

    Maybe she don't.

    - - -


    This case is an eye-opener, as it must be the clearest example of a miscarriage of justice available.

    Gauci's statements - don't tell me he would ever be even asked to appear in into an American court?

    An initial description not at all matching Megrahi, pointing out wrong persons first, then finally Megrahi - after seeing him in a newspaper! Finally the 'little bit exactly' identification in court. After being promised money!

    I am certain that there would not be a single comparable example in western European court history.

    And an appeal court saying "We have not had to consider whether the verdict of guilty was one
    which no reasonable trial court, properly directing itself, could have returned in the light of that

    Again, I have to believe that also such a statement is unique? Or is this how an appeal court works in other cases too?

    Until I first saw this case, the whole system of maintaining a conclusion, despite readily available overwhelming evidence against it, was unknown to me. (Call me naïve, OK)

    All based on never discussing the core of the matter: the evidence, the theories it supports, and what can be done to investigate further.

    Duggan is not an idiot. He is just able to carry on with his work with eyes closed. You could call it a talent, though not so rare as I would once have thought.

    - - -

    Many years ago I recall seeing a "re-trial" on TV, the JFK case.

    The prosecution with the claim that Oswald was not the only shooter, the defense stating that the official theory was correct.

    And a jury, I am not sure about how many people, may have been 12.

    It was well made, both parties being well prepared and a lot of evidence being presented.

    The prosecutor lost the case, a verdict I happened to agree to.

    I wonder if something could be set up for the Lockerbie case?

    No doubt that the program would be extremely well viewed, more than any documentary, and with very limited costs.

    The hard thing would be to find somebody who'd defend the official theory.

    Another absurdity about this case - where are the Crown's defenders, willing to debate evidence? There must be one?

  5. Dear SM

    If you are naive then so were we all once. Until this case I genuinely had confidence in our justice system. Once I began to read about the background to the case, the political "changes of mind" regarding the identity of the culprits, the trial and so on....I started framing serious questions in my own mind even as a lay person.

    If you compare the responses of Susan Cohen and Jim Swire that particular study is deeply interesting.

    Jim Swire has said he initially had no reason to suspect any foul play on the part of the authorities: his doubts began during the trial with the conclusions reached by the judges shocking him to the core.

    I do not think that Susan's love and devotion to her daughter was any less than Dr Swire's towards his own daughter. The difference is that as soon as those doubts came Dr Swire's questions began. Susan Cohen, on the other hand, has taken up the bizarre position of defending the verdict, despite compelling evidence, that it is simply impossible for her to be unaware of, so long has it been in the public domain, that the verdict was terribly flawed. If it was my daughter, as I said earlier, I could not rest until I knew the truth.

    The contrast between their public statements is interesting too. Dr Swire conducts himself always with dignity even although the pain and anger inside him must equal anything Mrs Cohen feels. You have covered some of Mrs Cohen's statements in your post above. It sounds to me sometimes as if Mrs Cohen believes she is defending the United States of America itself and believes, out of some sense of unwavering loyalty, that she cannot possibly question its integrity in this matter even if finding the truth behind the murder of her daughter is to be sacrificed in the process. That is quite a sacrifice.

  6. SM
    Ah, the Crown's defenders. They would prefer to fund trips to Libya to find "new evidence" while piles of the stuff sit here right under their noses being ignored.

    Recently, thanks to the pressure JFM have kept up on the Crown Office, we had the bizarre spectacle of a Lord Advocate announcing he had organised his own private "review" of the verdict and that it was all just fine! That Frank Mulholland pulled such a stunt knowing that, in Scots Law, the findings of his anonymous "outside counsel" are irrelevant, beggars belief. It does show, however, that progress in this case and in this battle, IS being made.

    The Crown also, with the assistance of a Scottish Government, got rid of that pesky appeal which had, by that time, been waiting for more than two years to be heard. (Even although the Scottish political and judicial establishments were aware of Megrahi's, by then, serious illness.)

    On the release, we knew the "compassionate grounds" route was selected by the Justice Minister yet that route did not require the dropping of the appeal. So why did Maggie Scott, Megrahi's QC, tell the court when he withdrew his appeal that he had been told that to do so would "assist" his application for release on compassionate grounds? That he was made to choose at all flies in the face of all the "due process" nonsense spouted by Mr MacAskill and Mr Salmond ever since. (We know too that Mr Blair's preference was the PTA route where the Appeal DID have to be dropped. So we know that the UK government also wanted that appeal gone and Megrahi out of the country. This makes the hypocrisy displayed by Labour people all the more incredible when an SNP government released him.)

    My biggest questions however are for the Scottish and UK media for, on Lockerbie, they have failed utterly to demand the truth and that is shocking indeed. I do not understand why they adopted such a position considering the numbers who perished in that atrocity and the evidence available to all of them suggesting the wrong man was convicted. Had they taken an honest approach it seems to me we would have had justice a long time ago.

    We do have individual journalists who have not abandoned Lockerbie: in Scotland Lucy Adams and Ian Bell spring to mind. We've had the Herald and the Scotsman calling for an Inquiry but not as loudly as I would like. We need more: much more.

    For me, in 2013, the way forward must be to challenge the UK media on Lockerbie. The evidence is there and they must be forced to confront it or explain why they will not.

    Both broadcasting and print sections have had much to say about the outcome of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry and about the emerging truth on Hillsborough. More recently we had evidence of state involvement in the murder of Pat Finucane by Loyalist terrorists in Northern Ireland.

    If our newspapers and broadcasters can express outrage about these events it is surely time they looked closely at their own position on Lockerbie. Magnus Linklater (now CBE) springs to mind when he attacks those who simply seek the truth as "conspiracy theorists" and "apologists for Megrahi". For a journalist/editor of his stature to ignore the fact that the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission deals in evidence which was why it referred this case back to the appeal court on six separate grounds shows just how deep the intention to deceive goes in the UK.

    There must come a time when the media will cave in. This year brings the 25th anniversary of the Lockerbie atrocity. We should not let up on them starting from now and perhaps by December the dead will have seen more progress still on the path to the truth and to justice.

  7. Dear Jo
    thank you for above!

    You are so right that the press coverage is the turning point.
    It may come. There are great headlines enough in this case for weeks on end.