Thursday, 10 April 2014

John Ashton responds to Richard Marquise’s Scottish Review article

[John Ashton has today published on his Megrahi: You are my Jury website a response to the article by retired FBI agent Richard Marquise which appeared yesterday in the Scottish Review. Mr Ashton’s article reads as follows:]

The current issue of the Scottish Review carries an article by the head of the FBI’s Lockerbie investigation, Richard Marquise, which critiques the three recently broadcast Aljazeera programmes on Lockerbie. The second of the programmes was originally broadcast on the day Megrahi: you are my Jury was published. It presented evidence that, contrary to the Crown’s claims, the circuit board fragment PT/35b could not have originated from one of the 20 MST-13 timers supplied by Mebo to Libya. Mr Marquise writes as follows. My comments are in regular font:
[Programme] two was primarily dedicated to proving that a fragment of a timer (hereinafter called Pt-35 for the Scottish evidence designation) was not part of the timer that was provided to the LIS. The investigation had determined that PT-35 had been blasted into a piece of cloth which had been contained in the bomb suitcase. The British forensic examiner was criticised for not testing this fragment for explosive residue. It should be noted that PT-35 was found within a fragment of cloth which did have explosive residue on it.
No evidence was presented to the court that the cloth fragment PI995 was tested for residues and nothing in the forensic material disclosed by the Crown suggests that it was.
Once MEBO was identified as the manufacturer of the timer from which PT-35 had come, principals of that company verified this fragment had come from one of 20 timers they had manufactured for the LIS in 1985 and 1986.
In fact Mebo’s Bollier and Lumpert said that the fragment appeared to come from one of the timers. They never claimed to have proof that it did. (Bollier later claimed that it was from a prototype circuit board and not from one of the boards used in the Libyan timers, but this unlikely because the prototypes were grey/brown. Whereas the fragment was green.)
All of them were delivered to Libyan officials, in East Germany and Tripoli. No other timers of this sort were ever made or given to anyone but the LIS. The MEBO technician who had actually made these timers said that he first had to create, by hand soldering, a template for the timers. Once he created the solder lines he was then able to stamp out the 20 copies. Once these were made no other copies were ever made of this type timer.
Al Jazeera showed an interview of a forensic scientist who had allegedly (I do not know what specimens he actually compared) determined that the metallic composition of PT-35 did not match that found on the MEBO timers provided to Libya. He also claimed to have replicated in the laboratory the same or greater temperatures than the fragment would have been exposed to during an explosion to make this determination.
The expert, Dr Jess Cawley, compared PT/35b with DP/347a, which was a control sample one of the boards used in the Libyan timers. His work showed that PT/35b’s circuitry was coated with pure tin, whereas DP/347a’s was coated with a tin-lead alloy. The boards used in the Libyan timers were all made for Mebo by Thuring. During the preparations for Abdelbaset’s second appeal we established that Thuring only ever used tin-lead alloy and had never used pure tin.
It is difficult to exactly replicate the explosion in a laboratory setting. I am not a metallurgist and the FBI was not allowed to examine the composition of the fragment. However, the identification of the fragment was through comparison of the tracking (solder) lines which determined the MEBO timer was an exact match to it. Clearly, if the scientist interviewed for the programme had the requisite technical skills, there would be a disagreement among experts.
It might be difficult to replicate an explosion, but it is not difficult to create the same or even greater heat energy than is created by an explosion. This is what Dr Cawley did and his results showed that the heat of an explosion could not account for the metallurgical difference between the fragment and the Libyan timer boards. The tracking lines of the fragment were indeed virtually identical in pattern to the of the boards used in the Libyan timers, but Crown expert Allan Feraday went further, saying that, not only the tracking pattern, but also the material of the fragment was ‘similar in all respects’ to the Libyan timer boards. ‘Similar in all respects’ was a phrase used throughout his forensic report when describing items that were clearly of common origin.
There was no disagreement among scientists: Dr Cawley’s results merely replicated the results of tests overseen by Mr Feraday in 1991 (which the Crown failed to disclosed) and those done by scientists instructed by the police in 1992.
Many trials result in ‘dueling experts’. However, this is a matter for the court. Every day, in courtrooms around the world, ‘experts’ looking at the same evidence arrive at totally opposite conclusions. The prosecution, to counter, would offer ‘evidence’ that the solder tracking lines are microscopically identical to the other MEBO timers given to Libya and therefore the PT-35 fragment is identical to the other MEBO timers provided to Libya. That is the nature of expert testimony. It would have then been up to the judge or jury to reach a conclusion. Presenting one ‘expert’ opinion was a disservice to the viewers.
Again, there were no duelling experts. All the scientists’ work demonstrates conclusively that there was an irreconcilable metallurgical difference the fragment and the boards used in the Libyan timers. Crucially, the Crown fail to disclose Mr Feraday’s 1991 tests results, which directly contradicted his claim that the fragment and the control sample Thuring board were ‘similar in all respects’.
Mr Marquise does not mention the fact that the Scottish police knew from as early as March 1990, well before the fragment was linked to Mebo, that its pure tin coating was very unusual. In 1992 they commissioned tests that proved that the control sample Thuring board had a tin-lead coating, which begs the question: why did the Crown persist in running a case that was predicated on the claim that PT/35b originated from one of the 20 Libyan timers?


  1. I'm afraid this is typical of Mr. Marquise, and in entirely the same vein as his comments on this blog in years past.

    He barges into the debate, makes a number of assertions most of which are either of tangential relevance or simply untrue, then vanishes again. His assertions are challenged by numerous well-informed commentators, and he ignores the challenges.

    On the only occasion I recall him returning to a thread, it was merely to state that the judges convicted Megrahi so he was right and yah boo sucks.

    He simply does not grasp the arguments. The fragment PT/35b was of a different metallurgical composition to the Thuring circuit boards, and the original investigation knew that perfectly well. The results were simply fudged at the trial so that nobody picked up on the significance - thanks in no small part to some extremely important pieces of evidence being withheld from the defence, and Mr. Feraday reading out a passage from his forensic report which contained an untruth.

    Mr. Marquise simply writes a lot of words to obfuscate that clear and simple fact, and runs away again. As usual.

  2. I think this is an interesting example of how the debate can be stalled in the absence of an authoritative adjudicator such as a court or a judicial inquiry. Commentators such as Mr. Ashton and myself can present clear evidence and closely-argued reasoning laying bare the fatal flaws in the Crown position, but then establishment tools such as Mr. Linklater and Mr. Marquise appear, writing a pile of obfuscatory tosh. And there it lies, with nobody in a position to make an authoritative judgement, and the Crown simply ignoring anything it doesn't like.

  3. MISSION LIFE WITH THE LOCKERBIE AFFAIR - 2014. (google translation, german/english).

    The cunning as a fox, extremely clever ex FBI Special Agent Richard A. Marquise led before the U.S. Task Force Which included the FBI, Department of Justice and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) - can not provide with counter forensic fakts of evidences or exact technical details.
    Most of his assertions are defended so, that the circumstantial evidence in the "Lockerbie case" "elicited" by questionable "special" experts were.

    If Mr. Marquise is cornered, he can defend at any time, with the diplomatic words: - "no information" - because under National Security "- hi....

    The upcoming truth proof of the manipulated MST-13 timer fragment (PT-35) will make Marquise's show for drama, at the U.S. university. see Video on:

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Telecommunication, Switzerland. Webpage:

  4. Marquise disappoints me, I had some hopes (call me naïve). But he just continues to speak, occasionally, for the masses, leaving out critical matters that he knows very well about.

    There is only a hair-fine difference between "deliberately misrepresenting" and "lying" and maybe it is not really there or relevant at all.

    > And there it lies, with nobody in a position to make an authoritative judgement, and the Crown simply ignoring anything it doesn't like.

    And a press having no problem with it, and a people who doesn't see that getting your judicial system cleaned up matters much much more than who you elect next time.

    But JfM has won the most important victory: that people who bother to take a closer look invariably will reach one conclusion.

    That is indeed Justice for Megrahi, as fine as it comes. In fact, much more important that what an uninformed majority allows itself to be told.

  5. Mr. Marquis, please reconsider the following: A criminal judgment "life sentence in prison", which was constructed only on circumstantial evidence and hypothesis can not be justice when other Crucial and exculpatory evidence and facts are available in the "room" and was not examined with the required diligence, like at Al Megrahi's process.

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Switzerland

  6. sfm, have you read Richard Marquise's book? It's rambling, confused and desperately in need of a good editor. He doesn't come over as someone who really knew what he was doing.

    We sometimes forget that these people are basically policemen. Senior detectives have every bit as big an intellectual challenge in cases like this as a consultant physician dealing with a rare disease showing up with an unusual presentation - if not more so. And yet while many of our brightest intellects are encouraged into the medical profession, they are not encouraged into the police service. Sometimes, reading about this case, you start to realise that a lot of the people carrying the responsibility for figuring things out were, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit hard of thinking. Richard Marquise is one such, as that article of his demonstrates fairly well.

    This is one of the things that frustrates me about the whole affair. The people in the positions of power, the people who have the authority to accept or reject a particular line of argument, the people we're supposed to defer to, are all too often people you want to grab by the lapels and give a good shake to, while shouting "you really aren't following this, are you?"

    And yet they're the ones who are given credence by the chattering classes like Magnus Linklater, and the rest of us are conspiracy theorists.


  7. Attn. Mr. Marquise:

    According to Human Rights should Definitive Judgements, constructed on circumstantial evidence, only be pronounced, if no other options and circumstantial evidence are seen. Otherwise, the principle is: "in benefit of the doubt" (In dubio pro reo).

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier

  8. I would have thought that testing the fragment PI/995 for explosive residue was a bit superfluous. However as I demonstrated in my article "Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil" there is no credible evidence that PT/35(b) (and PT/35(d)/PT/2) were actually discovered in said fragment PI/995as claimed by Dr Hayes and allegedly witnessed by Mr Feraday. The infamous page 51 of Dr Hayes' notes dated 12th May 1989 cannot legitimately have been created before the 22nd May 1989 (i.e.after not before the examination of the "Horton Manual".)

    The "Horton Manual" itself (PK/689)) was allegedly sent for fingerprint and chemical tests on the 12th May 1989 (presumably for explosive residue) yet appears quite pristine in photographs taken on the 17th May 1989!

  9. If you say something is almost the same it is in fact not the same, it is only almost the same.

    But using the word almost is a way of making a point without actually making it.

    For example, describing someone as almost a crook implies they’re crooked without saying they’re a crook.

    Legally this makes a vital difference which is why words spoken in court are carefully considered and explains why Allan Feraday used the word similar instead of same!

    Describing something as ‘similar in all respects’ implies they’re the same without saying they’re the same.

    In other words similar is being used in the same way as almost.

    An obvious deceit that should have incited the defence to ask, “Are you saying they’re the same in all respects”?

    And if not the same, the fragment ‘evidence’ would have been discredited even without any forensic testing.

  10. He didn't choose the words in court. He was reading out a report he wrote in about 1992.

    He used those words frequently in that report, for example when referring to different fragments of the same suitcase, and in context the usage means "identical".

  11. Dear Rolfe,
    haven't read Marquises book yet, but that is a mistake.
    I have read the excerpts that was in Google Books (but I can't find it, maybe it is taken off).

    'The people in the positions of power ... are all too often people you want to grab by the lapels and give a good shake to, while shouting "you really aren't following this, are you?"'

    So true, but we aren't surprised, are we?
    Everybody is hired to serve the interests of those who hire them.
    It will usually mean something slightly different than what it says in the job description.

    - - -

    Right, outside math no two things are identical.

    But you say "An obvious deceit that should have incited the defence..."

    I don't think the defense can be blamed. It is not possible to gain information by nitpicking on details in the language.

    In fact, this is "layer"-talk, not to be respected, in the style of
    "- But you agree that it would not be 'impossible'?"

    The witness is committing perjury, that is the problem.

    He is making a statement that is correct only if stated by a man without his knowledge.

    The pcbs are indeed 'similar in all respects' if you know nothing at all about the layers' chemical composition.

    But the witness did, he was aware of the importance, and so he lied.

    The correct statement: "In fact, there is one absolutely crucial difference..."

    Further questioning would have made a laughing stock out of himself and the police and the crown theory of the MEBO produced timer.
    "Ooops, guys, hey, next time choose the right pcb for the fake."

    Better lie.

    Where is Marquise with a comment on that?

  12. The usage of similar implies identical and was designed to do so, but similar is not the same as identical and Feraday relied on no one noticing this vital difference.

    And if he had used the description ‘same’ under oath, he would have perjured himself, which is why he was no doubt happy the question was never asked.

  13. Mr. Marquise doesn't understand the forensics. That is absolutely clear in his article. He can't have read John's book, or if he did he didn't understand it.

    He doesn't understand that there is no disagreement about the metallurgy results. They were the same every time the tests were done. Scottish police, RARDE, prosecution, defence - all the same. The metallurgy results prove that PT/35b wasn't part of one of the Libyan timers. That has never been denied. All that happened was that this information was concealed from the defence, and Allen Feraday said some stuff in the witness box that wasn't true.

    The defence were finally given the crucial evidence in 2009 - a report dated 1991, detailing stuff the Crown knew all along. Since then all that has happened is that the Crown has ignored all attempts to get it to comment on this.

    Getting Richard Marquise to say something, when he is entirely clueless about the actual facts, seems to be the next stage of the obfuscation.

  14. I think someone is having reading comprehension problems.

    Feraday didn't choose his words in court. He was reading out a report he wrote in about 1992.

    He used those words frequently in that report, for example when referring to different fragments of the same suitcase, and in context the usage means "identical".

  15. You’re dissembling again.

    Even if the words ‘similar in all respects’ were made in an earlier report, that does not mean they cannot be challenged, if they are being read out as evidence in a court case.

  16. They could have been, but they weren't, because the evidence the defence would have required in order to challenge them wasn't disclosed. That's what this is all about. The defence only found out about all this in 2009, when an important document was included in a bundle of stuff that was sent to them by the Crown.

    The fact remains, Feraday didn't choose these words in the witness box, he was simply reading from an old report. A report in which he used that form of words repeatedly when referring to things that were identical. It's a common form of words in scientific parlance, and it means what it says. Similar in ALL respects.

    These two items were not similar in all respects, and Allen Feraday knew that. Naughty Mr. Feraday. The defence, however, didn't know that.

  17. You don’t need any evidence to question the use of similar rather than same, just an understanding of the English language.

    The repeated use of ‘similar in all respects’ is a deliberate way of appearing to say same, without saying same - and in a court case avoids perjury.

    A bit of tin/lead alloy is similar to a bit of tin alloy, but it’s not the same.

  18. Dave wrote:
    "You don’t need any evidence to question the use of similar rather than same, just an understanding of the English language"

    Nothing is gained from picking on interpretations of common constructions in the language.

    The word "similar" is a common and valuable word. It is used 24 times in the verdict and will have been used hundreds of times in the trial.

    Rolfe wrote:
    "The fact remains, Feraday didn't choose these words in the witness box, he was simply reading from an old report."

    Are you saying that a false statement is legally acceptable if it was written outside court, and just repeated within?

    In any case, a court can not be a place where we accept that as long as there is any possible interpretation of a statement that makes it correct, then it is OK.

    If a witness is asked "Did you ever see Mr. Aronson hit Mr. Browne" and he answers "Yes, I did, several times" and later says "Oh, I was referring to two classmates in school, which also happened to have these names." Perjury, period.

    This is exactly why all material must be disclosed to the defense. So the right questions can be asked.

    But if this shouldn't happen, witnesses still have a responsibility in assisting getting the truth out.

  19. Well, we'll see how that plays out in court if it ever gets there.

  20. sfm

    If something is similar you say similar, if it’s the same you say same.

    Adding, ‘in all respects’ to similar doesn’t alter the meaning of similar.

    Thus to describe a bit of tin/lead alloy as similar, ‘in all respects’ to a bit of tin alloy, is a deceptive but truthful comment.

    Whereas if Feraday had said they were the same, ‘in all respects’ he would have committed perjury.

  21. Dave, you are quite simply wrong. If two objects have a different metallurgical composition, they are not "similar in all respects". They are different in one significant respect. To say that they are similar in all respects is quite simply false. To give evidence on oath which is known to the witness to be false is perjury. End of story.

  22. Thank you.

    I still don't think it will ever come to court because the people who fitted up the case against Megrahi are being protected by the authorities, but it seems pretty open and shut to me.

    As does the bit about the redacted cables not containing anything that might cast doubt on the credibility of Mr. Majid Giaka.

  23. But if a complaint is made and nothing done, then somebody will have to officially reject it, right?

    Isn't there some kind of procedure to follow?

    A case must have a status, like
    - pending
    - rejected by police (insufficient grounds)
    - submitted to public prosecutor
    - rejected by court
    - accepted by court

    And it can of course not be "pending" forever?

  24. That seems to be the current strategy, yes. Because it is public knowledge that certain complaints have indeed been made. In November 2012 no less.

  25. But..?? Chief Constable Sir Stephen House is quoted for saying:

    “I can assure you that the allegations made by the Justice for Megrahi group are being investigated thoroughly and as expeditiously as possible,” he wrote.

    And this man is not a liar, is he?

  26. Of course not! How could you even imagine such a thing!

    I think the reporter has simply missed out the word "as" before the word "thoroughly". That makes perfect sense. Easy mistake to make.

  27. Ah! And then I assume ' possible' means ' possible, given that our real intention is to do our best that nothing ever comes out of this'?

    Well, I suppose to become Chief Constable, Sir Stephen House certainly has to know what he is expected to say - even with the right dialect.

    Today, I read through the Wiki-page for the Hillsborough tragedy.

    A quote from the conductor of the first inquiry, Mr. Taylor (I will not call him "Lord" (Justice), I now regard that title as a derogatory term, and Mr. Tailor seems to be a sincere guy) struck my mind:

    In all some 65 police officers gave oral evidence at the Inquiry.

    Sadly I must report that for the most part the quality of their evidence was in inverse proportion to their rank.