Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The real case for the Heathrow introduction

[This is the title of an article written by Dr Morag Kerr, author of Adequately Explained by Stupidity?, which she has very kindly allowed me to publish here.  It reads as follows:]

Since my book was published I have been invited to take part in a couple of radio and TV discussion programmes about the Lockerbie case, and in general it has been a frustrating experience.  My contention is that the bomb suitcase was introduced at Heathrow airport, around half past four in the afternoon, not at Malta in the morning as the Crown proposed.  I have very specific and absolutely incontrovertible evidence to prove that.

Of course that does, indirectly, demonstrate that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was not the man who put that suitcase on the plane.  He was provably in Tripoli at that time, which as it happens is well over a thousand miles from Heathrow airport.  What it does not do is give me some unique insight into who did plant the bomb.  And yet, that’s all the interviewers seem to want to ask me.  “Who do you think did it, Dr. Kerr?”

I have no freaking idea who did it.  I have read the same articles and watched the same documentaries as everyone else.  I might have an opinion based on that, but it would be no better informed than anyone else’s opinion formed on the same basis.  It is seriously not worth dragging me into Edinburgh to sit in front of a microphone or a TV camera to ask me that.

Who do I think did it?  Someone or someones who were at Heathrow airport on the afternoon of 21st December 1988, that’s who.  The rest is up to the police, assuming they can get their act together this time, 25 years after the event.  Ask me how I know the bomb was introduced at Heathrow, why don’t you?  That’s my contention, and that’s what might be worth hearing.

This is what the interviewers would hear, if they asked me the right questions.

The recovered blast-damaged suitcases in effect form the pieces of a large, three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle.  The forensic investigators assembledthese pieces individually, described them, photographed them, and even drew pictures of some of them.  What they did not do was solve the jigsaw.

This is very easy to do, using these descriptions, photographs and drawings, also taking into account the passenger and baggage movements into Heathrow that afternoon and the statements of the baggage handlers who interacted with container AVE4041 before it was loaded on to Maid of the Seas.  When the jigsaw is solved, the bomb turns out to have been inside a brown hardshell Samsonite suitcase, loaded in the bottom position in the left-hand front stack of suitcases.  The position where John Bedford reported seeing a brown hardshell Samsonite suitcase, almost an hour before the feeder flight from Frankfurt landed.

And that’s basically it.  More detail, for those deeply familiar with the details of the evidence (that’s you I’m talking to, Magnus Linklater and Bill Taylor) can of course be provided.

1.  The conviction depended absolutely on the assumption that a blue Tourister suitcase which was carried on the feeder flight was positioned on the floor of the container, immediately underneath the bomb suitcase.  However, the physical evidence of the recovered luggage demonstrates without any doubt that the Tourister was in fact positioned on top of the bomb suitcase.

I can be more specific.  Material from the Tourister was recorded as being blasted into and on to half a dozen of the other suitcases in the container, something which could not have happened if it had been blasted through the base of the container and away from the rest of the luggage.  Part of the Tourister was recovered entangled with parts of two other Frankfurt-origin suitcases, which again points to the same conclusion.  Most damningly of all, the case which was on top of the Tourister can be easily identified among the photographs of the recovered luggage, with material from both the Tourister and the IED itself plastered across its lid.

2.  The conviction depended absolutely on the assumption that the bomb suitcase was on the second layer of luggage in the container, not on the floor.  However, the physical evidence of the recovered luggage and the airframe under the base of the container demonstrate conclusively that there was no suitcase under the bomb suitcase -- the bomb was in the case on the bottom of the stack.

First, the condition of the bottom front corners of the two suitcases which were positioned upright, end-on, behind the bomb suitcase shows incontrovertibly that these corners were not protected by another suitcase at floor level.  Second, the pitting and sooting noted by the forensic investigators as being absent from the floor panel of the container is indisputably present on the parts of the airframe immediately under the floor panel.  Third, only one of the recovered suitcases was damaged in a manner consistent with its having been loaded flat against the bomb suitcase -- the blue Tourister.  The Tourister was on top of the bomb suitcase.  Despite numerous pieces of all the other items in the vicinity being recovered, there are no remains of a candidate for the “under the bomb” position.

3.  The conviction depended absolutely on baggage handler Amarjit Sidhu having rearranged the Heathrow interline luggage when he added the Frankfurt transfer luggage to the container.  Not only is it inherently unlikely that he would have done this, given the conditions under which he was working, he himself was quite clear in several police statements and again in the witness box at the Fatal Accident Inquiry that he did not do it.  There is not a shred of physical evidence to support the assertion that he was mistaken on this point.

The entire case focusses on this precise point: on the basis of the condition of the baggage container and the adjacent airframe components, the bomb suitcase must have been either the one on the bottom of the front left-hand stack of luggage or the one on top of it.  The former position was occupied by a suitcase loaded in the interline shed at Heathrow, and the latter by a suitcase transferred from the feeder flight.  The AAIB inspectors and the forensic investigators jumped to the wrong conclusion at an early stage in the investigation, based on only a small subset of the available information (the condition of the container itself).  The full dataset was never assembled and interpreted.  If it had been, it would have shown without doubt that this conclusion was wrong.

Is it really that simple?  Yes, actually, it is.  Months investigating Frankfurt, years investigating Malta, indictments against a couple of people who happened to be going about their business on Malta that morning, eight years of punitive sanctions against Libya which destroyed the economy and social cohesion of the country, a three-ring-circus of a trial in a specially-built court in the Netherlands, the conviction of one of the people who happened to be on Malta that day, his eventual release under circumstances that turned the Scottish government into an international hate icon, and UK and US support for the Libyan rebels in the overthrow of Gaddafi in 2011 -- not to mention the x-ray operator at Frankfurt who was assumed to have missed the bomb suitcase transiting from the Malta flight apparently being hounded to his grave by the accusation.  All that, for want of someone having enough nous to spot and solve a jigsaw which was right there in front of them all the time.

Yes, I’m pretty stunned by this.  It’s almost unbelievable but it’s true.  Now get your heads round that, people, and stop asking me who I think did it.  That’s way beyond my pay grade.


  1. I can understand Dr Kerr's frustration and I think she has acquitted herself well in the interview situations when those posing the questions were, deliberately in my own view, asking the wrong questions.

    This has been the case throughout the many years since the Megrahi conviction up to and including the release of the "Lockerbie Bomber" with a frenzied media choosing to focus only on that unsound conviction and nothing else. Even the existence of the six grounds raised by the SCCRC was set aside as soon as Megrahi was persuaded to drop the appeal. It is as if no doubts were ever expressed by the SCCRC. And that's how the political and judicial establishments want it to stay.

    The big question is why the media continues to ask people like Dr Kerr the wrong questions. It would appear, sadly, that the media wants the conviction to stay around too. And that should shock us all. Especially when the likes of Linklater, in his own words, an experienced journalist over a period of decades and a man decorated for his "services to journalism", lead the attacks (there is no other word for it) on those who want to see this case fully investigated again in the interests of justice and justice alone.

    I congratulate Dr Kerr on the way in which she is handling those she is now confronting regularly on the issues of Lockerbie and the Megrahi conviction.

  2. They will only ask, ‘if not Megrahi, then who’?

    They could ask, ‘if not Megrahi, then what’? A good question, because if the State can get the Who wrong, then why not the What!

    And I was informed the defence team at Zeist were only allowed to offer a defence of ‘someone else’, rather than ‘something else’. Perhaps a reason why they didn’t challenge the forensics!

    Now why would that be?

    Well, because a ‘Who rather than What’ is the excuse for the bogus criminal investigation, as opposed to holding a public enquiry.

  3. I don't think they were deliberately asking the wrong questions. The whole mindset at present seems to be, well if Megrahi didn't do it, who did?

    It's a reasonable question, but it's putting the cart before the horse. This is new information, proving Megrahi's innocence and (perhaps more importantly) proving the utter incompetence of the original investigation. To skip gaily past the entire thing with no examination at all and rush directly into "who did it then?" is simply lazy journalism. Or unfocussed journalism.

    I have seen innumerable TV documentaries about the Lockerbie evidence. We've had in-depth examination of the radio manual, the clothes in the bomb suitcase, Megrahi's assorted passport photos, Tony Gauci's new lifestyle, and of course the "timer fragment". Always and incessantly the timer fragment.

    Frustratingly, much of the celluloid and videotape expended on the timer fragment has been wasted in irrelevancies. Was it substituted during the inquiry, with its shape changing? No, a slice was cut off the top for analysis, and this was fully documented. Was it taken to the USA without authorisation? Probably not, because it was always in the custody of a Scottish police officer wherever it went. The really interesting part, the metallurgy results, seems to have been revealed too late to catch the wave of interest that carried these irrelevancies on to our screens.

    The suitcase jigsaw is just as important as the metallurgical discrepancies uncovered in relation to the timer fragment - more so, in my opinion, because it proves the Crown case wrong more immediately and directly. It's just as visual as the timer fragment - more so, arguably, because the visual impact of the three suitcase parts I mentioned is very striking. Indeed, a good video animation of the argument, showing where the critical damaged pieces were positioned in the container in relation to the bomb suitcase would get the whole thing over far more quickly and convincingly than any verbal narrative.

    There is an absolutely dynamite short documentary right there, begging to be made. It would explain exactly how we know Megrahi was innocent, and it would explain in vivid, graphic terms what a complete mess the original forensics investigators made of the case.

    I don't think the journalists are deliberately trying to hush this up to protect the establishment. I think they have their current narrative, and can't think outside that box. The box is labelled "if Megrahi didn't do it, who did?"

    I need to try harder to change their agenda. It will take time.

  4. The "what" is unarguable. The evidence of the IED in the suitcase in the baggage container is beyond dispute. Only those who are so blind they will not see and so deaf they will not hear could possibly imagine otherwise.

  5. Except the official explanation is glaringly wrong about Megrahi and this must cast doubt on the entire official explanation.

    And affirming the official line by speculating about where the ‘bomb case’ was situated is pitiful really, considering the ‘IED’ was too small to destroy the plane!

  6. OK, Dave, if the IED is the invention of the official line, why on earth did they invent one that was "too small to destroy the plane"?

  7. Get back to me when you've looked at the evidence, Dave. There are photos of it publicly available.

  8. I would have to disagree with you Rolfe.

    The media knew about the six SCCRC grounds to start with and they know the level of new evidence in the public domain to question the Megrahi conviction even since the SCCRC ruled on this case.

    Why then was the media not interested in homing in on the conviction? Come on now. Look at Linklater. He absolutely has blinkers on. The media clearly wasn't interested, they still aren't. They don't care about Megrahi. He is still the "Lockerbie Bomber" to them. And for reasons still to be explained, they want to keep it that way. The same media that went after MPs in the expenses scandal don't want to go after the truth about the worst atrocity to occur in the UK since WW2 when there is so much evidence to show we convicted the wrong guy? That is an astonishing position for the media to adopt on this issue.

  9. John Mackinnon

    Why would the State invent a plot that involved a ‘bomb case’ being loaded at Luqa, when there is no evidence that this happened?

    And why would they hold a show trial whose verdict was debunked on the day it was delivered by the judges themselves?

    The fact is US/UK governments never wanted to hold the show trial and it shows because their ‘official plot’ has desperation written all over it.

    It was held because they pursued a bogus criminal investigation to avoid holding a public enquiry and as a result was hoist by their own petard due to international pressure to conclude the investigation.

    But lies begat lies and the show trial brings the State into further disrepute, which is why they stonewall all questions to avoid telling more lies – or the truth.

  10. Dear Dave,

    Go back, read the script and listen to the score.

    Pip, pip.

  11. John Mackinnon

    “Why would they invent a plot with an IED too small to destroy the plane”?

    Because they needed an IED of a particular size to fit the official plot!

    This ‘plot’ involved an unaccompanied ‘bomb case’ being loaded at Luqa for transit to New York via Frankfurt and Heathrow!

    Thus the ‘plot’ required an IED of a particular size to be hidden within the ‘bomb case’ to pass through custom checks.

    It also had to be loaded in the exactly right place at Heathrow so that it would be effective in destroying an American plane when it detonated at the right time!

    Now you may think this an improbable plot, but using a small hidden IED makes sense, as opposed to using a larger one that would be immediately found if the case was opened!

    Whereas if the plot was to by-pass customs and load the ‘bomb case’ at Heathrow it would make sense to use a larger ‘bomb’!

  12. Dave,
    If you're not willing to answer my (fairly obvious) question, I don't feel under any compulsion to answer yours.

    The thing is, I could think up half a dozen rational answers to your questions. I can't think of a rational answer to mine.

  13. They didn't invent it. They convinced themselves that was what had happened.

    All because everyone was saying the bomb was in the suitcase on the second level, when it was obviously on floor level if you just look at ALL the evidence.

    Dave of course doesn't look at ANY of the evidence. He just makes things up in his own little head.

  14. Dave is insistent that nothing can possibly happen unless he thinks it makes sense. News flash. People often do things that don't make sense to Dave.

    The physical evidence of a relatively small (500 g or less) Semtex IED having exploded inside a suitcase in the bottom front left-hand corner of baggage container AVE4041 is overwhelming and incontrovertible. There is no possible way this could have been misinterpreted or faked short of supernatural intervention.

    Dave doesn't want to look at any of this evidence. He's reduced to whining "but I wouldn't have done it that way so that can't be what happened."

    It is what happened.

  15. That is the first time you have used the figure 500g.

    And can you confirm you said the AAIB inspectors were not explosive experts?

  16. Look at the evidence, Dave. Break the habit of a lifetime.

  17. "That is the first time you have used the figure 500g."

    Well spotted, Dave! Earlier it has been something like "nearly half a kilo" or "about a pound".

    I knew there was something fishy about this bomb-theory!

  18. Semtex comes in 500 g blocks. The estimates of the explosives boffins were there or thereabouts, but mainly on the low side of that figure.

    Maybe the bombers shaved a bit off a standard block to get it into the radio. Who cares, frankly. So, "500 g or less".

  19. You said the AAIB inspectors were not explosive experts, so who are the ‘explosive boffins’ you’re referring to?

  20. Not the AAIB inspectors, obviously.

    Now, are you going to address the humungous piles of evidence of that IED in that suitcase in that baggage container?

  21. Dear Rolfe

    you wrote:
    > Who cares, frankly.

    Only one person, I think.

    This comes from not having better arguments.

    But pointing out the '500g' vs. 'about half a kilo' takes the cake.

    As one of the world's foremost experts on the Lockerbie evidence, PLEASE don't waste your valuable time on repeating answers on this level.

  22. Well, thanks for that SM. However people like Dave do worry me a little - and he is only the latest incarnation.

    When nonsensical and frankly false comments are left on blogs like this, people read them just like any other. And if they're not countered, a proportion of the readers tend to think "ooh that chap knows something interesting!"

    Human nature is attracted to conspiracy theories, and many people prefer them to the more mundane explanation. And before you know where you are, another stream of nonsense is coursing across the internet. I think Dave may have been a victim of much the same thing in his time, when he read John Barry Smith's ill-considered analysis and became enamoured of it. And you know, Lockerbie is convoluted enough without adding to the barnacle accretion of false theories that encrusts it.

    So I try to address his nonsense rather than let it lie unchallenged.

    I'm still waiting to find definite evidence of the big conspiracy behind Lockerbie. I live in hope, because the whole thing simply reeks of double-dealing, but so far, every time I have been able to drill right down into a very suspicious-looking aspect of the case, what has been found lurking at rock-bottom is galactic-class incompetence.

  23. And if not the AAIB inspectors, then who are the 'explosive boffins' you are referring to?

  24. Dave, I'm not your personal tutor.