Tuesday, 22 July 2014

A controversial conviction

[A letter from Bob Taylor in today’s edition of The Scotsman reads as follows:]

Is it right at this stage to draw any parallel between the
 controversy over the Lockerbie bombing and the disaster involving MH17?

Dr Jim Swire has drawn attention, 
correctly, to the anguish of the victims’ relatives, and to key questions over the Malaysian airliner’s flight path, and the source of the lethal rocket, if that is the real cause of the carnage.

But we should heed, too, the views of Keir Giles. His main point is that investigation of the detail of that carnage is being hampered by local activity of secessionist gunmen and untrained volunteers.

The Lockerbie probe, though by no means flawless, was 
conducted by the appropriate
 police authority, together with intelligence services.

The area around which it
 happened was not, as in the Ukraine, the subject of national and international controversy. A task of investigation which looked utterly formidable was completed and a case made for prosecution of individuals.

We now know that perhaps all the evidence was not looked at, that the Al-Megrahi conviction was controversial, perhaps others were involved, and that even they may be a convenient scapegoat.

It remains the case that a coherent investigation took place as did a trial under Scots law, albeit outwith Scottish territory.

A miscarriage of justice may have taken place, but at least a semblance of legal procedure was followed.

The tragedy in eastern Ukraine is that lawlessness threatens to prevail over an international outrage. Unless pressure on Vladimir Putin’s regime to act 
continues, the reputation of
 international justice and diplomacy will be destroyed. 

[RB: There are credible reports that the integrity of the Pan Am 103 crash scene at Lockerbie was not scrupulously maintained.]


  1. It is worth bearing in mind that while the area of debris of MH17 is scattered over a currently disputed region of eastern Ukraine, that in itself should not necessarily negate items recovered by local sources.

    The recovery of Pan Am 103 debris was conducted by police, AAIB, other investigating agencies, mountain rescue officals, volunteers and members of the public. One notable item - the Toshiba manual - was apparently found by a member of the public in Morpeth, sixty miles from Lockerbie.

    Furthermore, some of the most critical pieces of evidence collected around Lockerbie by official police investigators, and presented as evidence against Megrahi, remain to this day some of the most contested and disputed items of evidence: the MST fragment.

    And then of course, there were the other 'experts' from RARDE and the AAIB, whose conclusions on the Pan Am wreckage are also highly contentious.

    We (the UK, US and Scottish govts) are in no position to lecture anyone on 'coherent investigations' or the integrity of evidence collected.

  2. There were "credible reports" of members of the public making off with souvenirs, including bits of wreckage and passengers' effects. I believe there were prosecutions (for looting?). Actually, what would have been bloody INcredible would have been it that hadn't happened.

    Obviously the situation in the Ukraine is ten times worse, even though the area of the crash is much smaller. It's going to be difficult.

    What I'm not sure about is interference at Lockerbie as regards misleading the inquiry. It's much more likely that interference in the early stages was aimed at recovering the luggage of the US security operatives on the plane, to prevent sensitive information falling into other hands. We know that in the end John Orr authorised the unofficial release of Charles McKee's suitcase to the US authorities from the secure store at Dextar, and it was returned with the contents removed. He has conveniently "forgotten" all about it, but the rank and file coppers remembered perfectly well.

    It's POSSIBLE that there was more serious funny stuff. The evidence hasn't been closely enough scrutinised to be able to tell. All I can say is, if there were people planting evidence to point to a Libyan operation, as early as has been suggested, that opens a whole new can of worms about who knew what and when.

  3. Absolutely.

    I am however infuriated by the dominating narrative around this disaster and the self-righteous language which eminates from the mainstream media. The rush to accuse; the rush to judge; and the rush to seek sanctions. And all before anyone knows the first thing about what may have occured and led to this tragedy. All the noise so far involves any geopolitical leverage that can be made. And this sounds all too familiar.

    The Malaysian officials were 'completely satisfied' with the transfer of the black boxes. The Dutch officials stated the bodies being held in refrigerated train carriages was 'good'.

    After Sky new reporter had themselves rifled through a passengers bag, then Ch4 news last night highlighted a small piece of wreckage, some miles from the imapct sight, decrying the locals for not securing this item for 'its evidential value!'.

    Thankfully as you say the debris field apears not to be as widespread as PA103, although no one yet knows quite how far it might be spread. However, lacking any solid information or evidence hasn't served to deter the west from deciding who shoulders the blame - 'Putin Killed my Child' - and who should conduct any (US approved) investigation.

    On these matters their track record, especially with regard to Lockerbie, does not bode well for those hoping for completely independent observors and investigators uncovering the truth.

  4. If Lockerbie is any guide, they'll decide what they want to have happened, then cherry-pick, twist and misrepresent the evidence to point the way they want it to point.

  5. Para.4 sums it all up - "The Lockerbie probe, though by no means flawless, was conducted by the appropriate police authority, together with intelligence services." Intelligence and Criminal Investigation are two quite different things although the spooks pretend they are not.

    As I pointed out in my seminal article "Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil" the key evidence in the Lockerbie case was irrefutably fabricated. This wasn't just "gilding the lily" to "prove" what the investigators really knew to be true. It was to produce a politically acceptable solution largely unrelated to the bombing itself and specifically to produce the objective the intelligence services and their political masters wanted - UN Sanctions against Libya. I wonder if this (or even the fabricated evidence!) features in Professor Black's three volumes of submissions to the SCCRC!