Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Lockerbie: innuendo, myth, half-truths and rumour

The current edition of the Scottish Review contains an article by Magnus Linklater entitled Lockerbie: innuendo, myth, half-truths and rumour, in which Mr Linklater’s well-known views on the conviction of Abdelbaset Megrahi, the proceedings which led up to it and and the concerns and evidence that cast doubt on it, are rehearsed.

I understand that John Ashton is to be accorded space in the Scottish Review to respond to this article. In the meantime, Mr Ashton’s responses to previous articles by Magnus Linklater can be read here and here. My own concerns about the Megrahi conviction are set out here and here and here.


  1. One can almost picture a post-it note on the Linklater laptop: "don't forget to get the "conspiracy theorists" bit in as often as possible!"

    I had been wondering whether Linklater would be capable of respondng to John Ashton, or of simply writing about Lockerbie, without resorting to the use of this phrase. Nope - he failed. Five "conspiracy theories" and a liberal sprinkling of "conspiracies" and "theories" to keep reinforcing his intentions.

    To contemptuously dismiss someone as a "conspiracy theorist" is a lazy slur used as a cowardly pejorative by those who adhere to the "official version of events", without wishing to properly examine the facts and evidence which challenge that version. It is used in an attempt to discredit, belittle and embarrass those who challenge the "official version of events". It's a put-down used to avoid reasoned argument. A cheap get-out, intended to insult, (as is referring to colleagues as "fellow theorists").

    Holding the view that Megrahi was innocent could very well be considered to be a conspiracy theory -
    I don't think anybody disputes that more than one criminal terrorist secretly plotted to bring down Pan Am 103. That makes it a conspiracy. All the new and relevant evidence that proves that Megrahi could not possibly have been one of them has yet to be fully tested in a court of law, and until it is, it remains a theory. Ergo - it's a conspiracy theory.

    But let's not get distracted by semantics.
    It is the insidious way that the use of this phrase has changed that has turned it into something malicious.

    In these times of almost universal corruption and deceit in practically every sector of the so-called "establishment", it is more important than ever NOT to blindly, unquestioningly believe what we are being told by our governments, politicians, big business, the banks, the judiciary, the police, the military, even the church . . . did I miss anyone?
    Oh yes, - the media.
    It is a mistake to assume for one moment that these sectors of society have the interests of decent honest people principally at heart or that they automatically, because of their would-be moral status, serve the truth.
    Questioning those in power should always be encouraged and applauded, since It is more likely than ever that that power is being abused.

    By resorting to name-calling, Magnus Linklater and his ilk, such as Mulholland and Duggan, show a lot more about themselves than they do about those they attack. They demonstrate that they are bereft of credible argument.
    Let's see if Magnus Linklater is capable of further comment on Lockerbie without including those words, and whether he is capable of behaving like the responsible and mature "writer and commentator" that he likes to think he is, even if he demonstrates repeatedly that he isn't.

  2. To contemptuously dismiss someone as a "conspiracy theorist" is a lazy slur used as a cowardly pejorative by those who adhere to the "official version of events", without wishing to properly examine the facts and evidence which challenge that version. It is used in an attempt to discredit, belittle and embarrass those who challenge the "official version of events". It's a put-down used to avoid reasoned argument. A cheap get-out, intended to insult,

    Oh, I am SO stealing that!

    Magnus is an extraordinarily lazy thinker, and I'm astonished that he is accorded such a platform for his opinionated rantings. (By the Times at least, if not by a glorified interline blog.) It's not just the regular and baseless slur, it's the circular reasoning behind it.

    Many of the things John Ashton is highlighting are incontrovertible facts. It is absolutely cast-iron certain that much potentially exculpatory evidence was not disclosed to the defence, for example. Magnus wholly fails to address this, instead declaring "this is a conspiracy in anyone's book" and castigating John as a conspiracy theorist for pointing it out!

    As regards his commentary on my own book, I strongly suspect it's even worse. I do not believe he has actually read it.

    He references a couple of isolated phrases which he could easily have gleaned from the publisher's promotional material, and then launches into a critique of what seems to be a different book altogether. Reading his article, you might think that I was re-hashing old material that had already been examined by the Crown, the defence, the trial court and the first appeal. Nothing could be further from the truth - I present an entirely new analysis of the forensic material which has not been seen by any court. You might think I believed the Heathrow break-in to be central, while I actually state "it is difficult to know what to make of the break-in", pointing out that it might indeed have been a mere coincidence. If he has read it - which I strongly doubt - way to miss the point, Magnus! Or was the reasoning a bit beyond your capacities?

    It's quite ironic in a way, the eye-watering amounts of money that have been made by people who have totally failed to get to grips with this case - the original investigators (the senior ones, anyway), the entirety of the legal teams at the trial and first appeal, and presumably the SCCRC. Plus the ill-informed, opinionated writers churning out this sort of dross for publication. While amateurs are actually doing the serious work on it - and I include Professor Black in that, as nobody is paying him for this blog, or the other work he has been doing.

    I don't think Wile E. Mulholland can keep his little legs spinning above the canyon for much longer, though. Eventually, they all look down.

  3. "Interline blog"! I must have baggage transfers hard-wired into my typing fingers. Internet blog.

  4. Without doubt a masterly exercise in carefully negotiating, and very conveniently, its way around not dealing with Mr Abdul Giaka. The Crowns 'star witness', paid handsomely by the US authorities, and who's total and utter lies were fought tooth and nail NOT to be elicited before the court. 10/10 Mr Linklater!

  5. I've recently had a Twitter exchange with Magnus in which he claims to have read the book. He excuses himself by saying that the article wasn't about that, it was about how the SCCRC did a good job, "something you clearly disagree with".

    That's nonsense, of course. Nowhere in the book do I criticise the SCCRC, and I rely heavily on their report when dealing with the identification evidence. At the very very end I note that they may have missed a trick with the ESDA testing, that's all.

    Magnus (apparently channelling James Robertson) describes my book as "a remarkable piece of work", but then seems to say it's "just another possibility". I challenged him by saying that it proves the Heathrow ingestion, and he has to take that on board. He then said "You may be right - but have those you accuse of stupidity been offered the right of reply?"

    It's like trying to drum the two-times-table into a particularly dim six-year-old.

    I note one thing though. Back in the autumn he claimed to be "deeply familiar" with the Lockerbie evidence, having been following the case since 22nd December. In the article he confesses that he's "not a Lockerbie expert". Realising that you don't know it all can be the first step to learning something new.

    I'm thoroughly tired of the way he personalises the debate, and constantly attacks John (and myself) for positions we do not hold, rather than addressing the points we are trying to make. Then of course, if we reply in kind, he criticises us for that! It would be nice to have a debate on the actual facts, but I'm not holding my breath.

  6. Well, I might suggest that you (and John) are wasting what breath you do have on Mr Linklater. He isn't interested in the slightest. He opted at the book festival to treat everybody in that hall as the ill informed conspiraloons and now has dug himself into a hole and wishes to simply throw dirt at all that pass by. While wittering on and on and on, he has demonstrated his complete inability to examine not only the processes employed by, in his view, the insurmountable opinions of judges, lawyers, police and politicians in Mr Megrahi's guilt, but worse, the facts uncovered by you and John that manifestly show a miscarriage of justice occurred.

    It is notable that Mr Giaka's part in Zeist was completely whitewashed by Mr Linklater, given that in every respect it was this particular witness that in all truth fully encapsulates precisely what the Zeist trial was all about. Ironically: innuendo, myth, rumour, and a shed load of total lies.

    As you rightly say, don't waste you breath, nor time.

  7. Of course you're right. But Magnus isn't taking up a lot of breath, and I think it's useful to try to counter him. If we even succeed in altering his tone, it will be an advance.

    Actually turning someone who has been vocal on the other side can be a very big coup, so it's never a wasted effort to try, no matter how forlorn the hope. Did you know that Lionking on JREF read the book and instantly did a complete 180 degree turn, with apologies?

    You are of course right about Giaka. That entire episode shows clearly what the Americans in particular were up to. "The framing of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi" is a thing that actually happened, and it was done by way of Giaka. We should never ignore it.

    I didn't put it in the book because it had zero to do with the luggage evidence. It is however clear proof that there were people pushing this who at the very least didn't care whether they had the right man or not, they just wanted a conviction.

    Some day, the definitive Lockerbie book will be written. Not by me, please God.