Saturday, 23 February 2013

Police and Crown Office concealed Heathrow break-in from Lockerbie court

[What follows is the text of a letter from Dr Jim Swire published in Friday’s edition of The Guardian:]

Sixteen hours before my daughter Flora was killed on the Lockerbie flight in 1988, the airside of Heathrow was broken into, close to where the bomb was loaded the following evening. Security was immediately informed by its own night watchman but did nothing effective to discover who had broken in, nor why. That was before the official "war on terror", but at a time when the airport had just been warned of increased terrorist risk to US aircraft. Medicine has its single golden hour in which to save life. Heathrow wasted 16 hours. The Scots then amplified the time delay. Told about the break-in by the Met police a month after the atrocity, their police and crown office kept it hidden from the court which tried the Libyan, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, more than a decade later, until after he'd been convicted. Surely these days we could have immediate central security warning of perimeter breaches, with automatic "lock down" of the airport including all outgoing flights, till the cause is discovered (Gunmen pull off £30m diamond heist at airport, 20 February)?


  1. If we follow the security rule book and ‘work to rule’ then a break-in should be officially investigated and explained.

    But the failure to follow the rule book is not necessarily suspicious, because no one ‘works to rule’ other than in an industrial dispute, because no work gets done, because too much time is spent on one item.

    Instead in general, staffs follow procedures and use discretion and cut corners.

    The fact that the night-watchman immediately informed security of the break-in would suggest they knew the reason for the break-in (or break-out), but to avoid the time, paperwork and staff interviews involved in an official report, they just settled for changing the lock.

    Officially this is wrong and officially there is a risk in admitting you haven’t followed the rule book, but unofficially not suspicious just normal practice.

  2. None of the above is supported by any evidence at all, of course.