[What follows is a comment by Rolfe on Saturday’s blogpost Dr Jim Swire calls on Scottish Government to institute inquiry into Crown Office Lockerbie failings. In my view it merits stand-alone status.]
The information about the [Heathrow] break-in was buried at the beginning of February 1989, two years before Megrahi's name even entered the frame for Lockerbie. The information was passed to the investigators at Lockerbie, who said ho hum so what, and filed it. It was never looked at again. When the other Heathrow witnesses were being re-interviewed and re-re-interviewed, nobody said another word to Ray Manly. His evidence was never part of the narrative of the case and it would have remained unknown if he himself had not approached Megrahi's defence team after the verdict in 2001.
It's tempting to read all sorts of conspiracies into this, and there's certainly a case to be made that in early 1989 someone was distinctly unkeen for Heathrow to take the blame for the disaster, but the more I see of the primary evidence, the more it looks to me like nothing more than the most monumental cock-up of the second millennium.
Some pretty underhand and reprehensible things were done as part of this inquiry and prosecution, there's no doubt about that. But whether they were done as part of a grand, over-arching, machiavellian plan is an entirely different matter.
I see incompetent people who were far from being the sharpest knives in the drawer, but who had a very puffed-up sense of their own importance, making a complete pig's ear of the investigation. The recovery and examination of the evidence was absolutely stellar. World class. But then the evidence had to be analysed, and deductions and conclusions drawn. That's where it fell apart.
Lack of communication, personal egos, premature jumping to conclusions and sheer lack of analytical skills are there in abundance. Then the more you get it wrong the more you have to fudge and manipulate in order to defend what is becoming an indefensible position.
I'm not even sure they realise they got it wrong. Maybe some of them do. But some of them are so enamoured of their own cleverness in pinning the atrocity on Libya and Megrahi they can't see beyond that.
There is so much evidence to show that much of this debacle was caused by people in positions of responsibility simply not having the intellectual capacity to work through the inferences from A to B to C. Which makes it quite hard to believe that these same people were running an incredibly clever and complicated conspiracy.