Thursday, 31 July 2014

"What is it that our states know but still hide from us, the relatives?"

[The recently published  issue of Perspectives magazine contains an article by Dr Jim Swire, written some months ago.  The text submitted for publication reads as follows:]
On a huge hill cragged and steep TRUTH stands, and he that would reach her about must, and about must go.
John Donne 1572–1631
The shock of the recent helicopter crash in Glasgow must have reminded many of the horror that descended upon the little town of Lockerbie way back in late December 1988, and there is a strong link between them. In Glasgow passers by and those involved but surviving gave us a vivid picture of the willingness of ordinary people in Scotland to help each other. Likewise the people of Lockerbie, in spite of the shock and loss in their own community showed us relatives the tenderness and love of those drawn together by a common tragedy.
Yet in the case of Lockerbie it was our Scottish investigating police, later compounded by our Scottish Crown Office, who kept concealed in their files till 2001*, after the court verdict had been reached, that before the loading of the plane that fell upon Lockerbie that night, Heathrow had been broken into close by to where the bags were to be loaded for the flight 16 hours later, and that despite warnings of increased risk to American aircraft, no effort had been made to discover the intruder nor his motive.
But greater powers than Scotland’s were also involved. We did not listen carefully enough to what some were warning us about in the wider world.
Nelson Mandela had warned us that in a trial “No one country should be complainant prosecutor and judge”, yet Scotland was handed all three roles.
The trial started in May 2000, but long before that we had received disquieting information that there might be improper political pressures to undermine our search for truth. Early in 1990 our group had been called to the US embassy in London to hear the findings of a US Presidential inquiry into Lockerbie. In a gap in the proceedings in a quiet aside to one of us a US official said “Your Government and ours know exactly what happened but they’re never going to tell”.
Another blow was added in 1993, two years after the issue of indictments against the two Libyans, through the memoirs of the late Lady Thatcher who had supported the USAF bombing of Libya in 1986. She wrote of it: “It turned out to be a more decisive blow against Libyan sponsored terrorism than I could ever have imagined.... the much vaunted Libyan counter attack did not and could not take place”. Which nation then was responsible for Lockerbie?
Any nation wielding great power such as our American cousins do, will sometimes attract revenge as it carves its way among other nations. Lockerbie like so many other outrages was a revenge attack, upon an American aircraft.
Two possible origins for revenge are particularly relevant:-
1.) The bombing of Tripoli by the USAF in 1986 with the active support of our Prime Minister, the late Lady Thatcher.
2.) The destruction of Iran Air flight 655 in the Gulf five months before Lockerbie, by a rocket fired from the USS Vincennes. This tragedy was coupled to spectacular mismanagement by America of Iran’s ensuing lust for revenge.
So close has been the ‘special relationship’ between America and our country that hatreds elicited by one may be seen as the responsibility of both.
Yet it is always the prime responsibility of a sovereign State to protect its own citizens from harm.
Evidence assembled for and only partly used in the court case, has leaked out into the public domain, and been seized upon by amateur but truth-hungry relatives. It looks to us now as though the prosecution of the Libyan Megrahi should never have been undertaken.
Worse, far worse, the revenge attack that ended 270 innocent lives in the skies above Lockerbie and on the ground below had been predicted and was preventable.
I think of my daughter Flora pressing eagerly down those long Heathrow corridors that evening on her way to see her American boyfriend for Christmas, and submitting readily to the routine security checks, when as we now know, despite advance warnings of increased terrorist risks to American flights, the airport had decided to take no action to investigate the break-in. I conjure up a lurking terrorist resting and unmolested on airside and listening to the eager footsteps and chatter of his unsuspecting victims. This remains a source of fury and fuels our campaign 25 years later. Surely under these circumstances the suspension of outgoing flights until the break-in had been fully investigated was as elementary as it was mandatory? Heathrow’s night watch man who had found the break-in, had worked at the airport for 17 years and called it the worst security breach he had seen. Yet no public inquiry was called nor sanctions placed upon the airport for its lethargy. Flora too sought truth; she hated hypocrisy.
A brief summary of the trial indicates the importance of the break-in.
The trial
Lockerbie was clearly a revenge attack, the court had to decide who was getting revenge for what.
The prosecution case was that Megrahi of Libya had sent the bomb unaccompanied on a circuitous route via Frankfurt to Heathrow. There was no proof as to how the bomb might have been smuggled aboard in Malta, but obviously such a route required the use of a long running timer in the bomb if it was to survive the long journey and explode after leaving Heathrow. According to the prosecution a small fragment of timer circuit board labelled PT35b was found in the bombed wreckage and ‘in all respects’ matched one corner of timer circuit boards in possession of the Libyan regime. These timers would have enabled the bomb to be set, even from Malta. to explode over mid Atlantic. The origin of the bomb from Malta was also supported by the remains of Maltese originated clothing allegedly bought in Malta by Megrahi. and found in the same police evidence bag as PT35b.
The defence wanted to show that a Syrian group – the PFLP-GC – acting as mercenaries for Iran had made and supplied a very different type of bomb. This type of bomb had been used ‘successfully’ by the group several times before Lockerbie, to destroy or damage aircraft in flight. They contained an air pressure sensitive switch which kept them inactive at ground level, but if put aboard an aircraft, they would sense the ear-popping drop in pressure after the plane had been climbing for about 7 minutes, and then start a simple non-adjustable timer running of a type unique to the PFLP-GC in Damascus but incapable of running for more than roughly half an hour before exploding the charge. These bombs were therefore unalterably locked following take-off to 7 plus about 30 minutes before they would explode, but by the same token such a bomb could only have been put aboard at the airport of origin of the flight (Heathrow), since if put aboard an incoming flight when fully armed, they would have exploded before reaching Heathrow.
The Lockerbie flight had lasted 38 minutes after leaving Heathrow.
The case revolved round which type of bomb had been used, and the significance of the Maltese clothing.
The court did hear that the baggage handler at Heathrow (John Bedford) when he returned from a tea break to the container he had been loading for the Pan Am Lockerbie flight, saw a suitcase which he had not loaded and which was now on the floor of the container close to the very corner of that container which would fit against the fuselage skin of the aircraft. The court was kept unaware of the break-in, nor did it learn where the extra suitcase might have come from. Had the information about the break-in been shared with the defence before the trial, this surely would have aroused reasonable doubt about the device having arrived from Frankfurt, particularly since Bedford saw that mysterious case well before the Frankfurt flight had even landed. He did not remove nor reposition it and the container was then filled up with the bags from Frankfurt on top of the bags which Bedford had seen.
Both sides accepted that the bomb they favoured had contained approximately 400 - 450 grams of Semtex, just capable of being crammed into a tape recorder, but very puny for the task of destroying a robust 747. To be certain of total destruction a terrorist would have needed to ensure that his device was close to the vulnerable fuselage skin of the aircraft, that could only be achieved at Heathrow. Analysis of baggage surrounding the actual point of explosion showed how abruptly the force of such an explosion was damped down by neighbouring bags and their mostly soft contents. The position of the bomb relative to the fuselage skin was crucial.
The man from whom the clothing had been bought in Malta was called Tony Gauci. He and his brother Paul were in line to receive substantial payments from the US Justice Department through their ‘Rewards for Justice’ programme provided their evidence led to the conviction of Megrahi/Fhimah. The Zeist court had failed to review the contents of a Scottish policeman’s diary showing the extent to which the Gauci brothers were aware of this potential reward before giving evidence in the court: this also denied the court full knowledge of whether the identification by Mr Gauci of Mr Megrahi as the buyer of the clothing, conformed to the standards of Scottish criminal law. Serious distortion of evidence of the dates of the clothes being bought was necessary to avoid concluding that it had in fact been bought on a day when Megrahi was known not to have been in Malta.
Sometimes I think that we relatives have been incredibly slow to realise that there might be real world reasons for reaching a verdict which was convenient to the political needs of a country rather than to the needs of truth and justice. Within four days of the issue of the Libyan indictments Iranian backed groups started to release American hostages: President Bush had campaigned for office on getting those hostages back.
But there have also been rich rewards for us since the trial in meeting those who have also realised the deception.
The first person I met afterwards was Professor Robert Black QC, emeritus professor of Scots law at Edinburgh. Not only was he one of Scotland’s leading legal brains, but he had also taken a central role in the devising and setting up of the special neutral country trial at Zeist, It was clear at once that he did not believe that the proceedings had justified the verdict. His own concept had been subverted to become a monumental miscarriage of justice. A disgrace to the very system to which his life had been devoted. It seemed we were not after all the only people to find the verdict incomprehensible. He cannot know the relief that the knowledge that far more erudite people than us, the lay and  obsessed relatives, felt excluded from the truth by that verdict .
Soon to follow were the findings of the UN special observer to the trial, Professor Hans Koechler of Vienna who also found the proceedings fatally flawed. So many others, have studied the evidence since and their ranks continually expand, bless them all. Two of the most significant have been women, solicitor Gareth Peirce at once drew our attention to the disastrous series of miscarriages of justice following events in Northern Ireland, and the similarities with the forensic provision for Zeist, she also injected us with the unshakeable knowledge that we do indeed have an absolute right to the truth over these dreadful murders. Her early article about Lockerbie was eye opening**.
Then came an academic from Bradford, Davina Miller. She had been researching America’s ‘choice of enemies’ in the Middle East, but came across the Lockerbie material. The title to her article*** ‘Who knows about this?’ reflects her astonishment that the trial had blamed Megrahi and his country. By 2011 she was also able to reference an amazing series of mainly US intelligence documents which showed an inexplicable sudden switch from probing Iran’s known  role, to acceptance that it was to be laid at Colonel Gaddafi’s door.
No one yet knows how the above mentioned circuit board fragment (PT35b) came to be found in that Scottish police evidence bag. Astonishingly it has now emerged that the metallic plating on the fragment simply does not match that on the Libyan owned timers. It was plated by a process which the makers of the Swiss timers Libya owned had not even installed in their factory before 1988. The forensic expert advising the prosecution had written in a note to his examination of that fragment that he had realised the discrepancy in the plating, yet he told the court in evidence that the fragment and the Libyan boards were “similar in all respects”
The trials relating to the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six were similarly bedevilled by distortion or suppression of forensic evidence and convicted the innocent. Similarly at Hillsborough, distortion and suppression of truth by the police blamed the innocent bystanders.
Early on the morning of the day in 2012 when the book Megrahi: You are my Jury was published revealing as it did that the fragment PT35b simply could never have been part of one of the Libyan owned timers because of the plating anomaly, Downing Street released a claim that the book was “an insult to the relatives”. The author of the book tells me that there was no legitimate way that Downing Street could have had access to the file of the book in advance – indeed I had only been allowed to read it myself through the night before launch, in a personally handed-over copy. What is the secret that still drives our state to seek to protect the now clearly false story told in the court?
What if our state were to acquiesce in the perversion of our justice systems to suit the needs of the aspiring President of another State? What was the real origin of the fragment PT35b? How did it enter that Scottish police evidence bag?
From Lady Thatcher’s day, when Lord Parkinson went to ask her cabinet on our behalf for an inquiry, and returned with a metaphorical black eye from a blow from a hand bag, we have been repeatedly refused any inquiry in either England or Scotland always under the rubric of the wonderful criminal investigation and trial. What is it that our states know but still hide from us, the relatives? No recent catastrophe of such proportions has ever been denied an inquiry for twenty five years.
The opacity of Governments and the adherence to falsehood are deeply worrying. What sort of society have we become that we host gigantic intelligence systems spying even on our own innocent citizens, and yet when prevention fails, and some of those innocent citizens are murdered, deny transparency and objective re-examination of the facts to those of their citizens most devastated by that failure?
* Ex Chief Constable Patrick Shearer: letter to Dr Jim Swire 2/4/12.
** Gareth Peirce, London review of Books ‘The framing of Al Megrahi.’
*** Davina Miller Taylor & Francis Online Defense & Security Analysis Volume 27, Issue 4, 2011


  1. Well, interesting.

    I simply despair of ever managing to interest those who have the ear of the press and the media in the simple fact that the case Bedford saw can be proved to have been the bomb.

    The case Bedford saw was on the floor of the container. From a very early stage indeed the investigation was fixated on the notion that the explosion had not been in the case in that position. Despite the suspicious nature of that case the police never seem to have questioned the forensics statements to that effect. Indeed, they may have encouraged them, as it rather looks as if the conclusion came first, and then the evidence was interpreted to suit. That was the reason for disregarding the Heathrow evidence all through the investigation. Bedford case on bottom of stack, explosion not in case on bottom of stack, no need to look further.

    But hey, when it came to Camp Zeist, what do we find? Suddenly the prosecution is keen to promote the (entirely spurious) notion that the case Bedford saw was moved after all. So why wasn't it the bomb, in that case? Why couldn't it have been moved to the second layer, where the explosion was said to have taken place?

    No reason, really, just ignore it and look at all that (remarkably tenuous) evidence from Frankfurt.

    But wait a minute, the investigators didn't get the Frankfurt evidence until August 1989, whereas they knew all about Bedford's evidence from January 1989. How was that case excluded at that time? Well, because it was on the floor of the container, and the explosion wasn't. And nobody at that time imagined that it had been moved.

    :bangs head on desk:

    My own view, on realising all that, was that the re-packaging of the suitcase evidence to suggest that the case Bedford saw had been moved was done for a specific reason, and that this reason was likely to be that if you knew the luggage hadn't been moved, and you analysed the entirety of the evidence in the light of this knowledge (which nobody seems to have done in 1989-90), then the Bedford case would reconcile as the bomb. It was however impossible to prove this from the evidence in the public domain, because the entirety of the evidence wasn't presented at the trial. Basic ordinary statements about passenger and baggage movements, and the evidence of two of the three baggage handlers who saw that suitcase, simply got lost down the back of the sofa.

    But what about the evidence that the explosion wasn't in the case on the bottom layer? The simple fact is that the forensics officers were wrong about this. The most elementary analysis of the damaged luggage, in conjunction with the suppressed information about which passenger suitcases were loaded in the interline shed and in which order, shows quite conclusively that there was no suitcase underneath the bomb suitcase.

    One particular piece of evidence, a panel of suitcase lining fabric, shows this beyond any doubt whatsoever. This conclusion went entirely unremarked by the forensics officers tasked with solving the case.

    And I just think it would be nice if some time the people whose articles attact the attention of the media would actually mention this. It's kind of important.



    It is obvious - who is interested to avoid the correction of the false verdict, in the Lockerbie case...

    It is more than obvious – that the opening of a new forensic examination of the MST-13 fragment could be the turning point of the ongoing live investigation...

    It is also obvious that the Scottish authorities are afraid of a possible claim by a new Libyan government up to 50 billion $ if the truth would prevail...

    It is also conspicuous that up to now my fact finding mission in Switzerland is continuously blocked and torpedoed by incessant legal delays...

    The "Lockerbie Affair" overshadows the future Scotland's !
    Scotland's Referendum 2014 >>>

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


  3. As a reminder - for me to day, a typical "Prior Condemnation" (prejudge) against Abdelbasset Ali Al. Megrahi - 1992, published with a photo on the Internet, ( from the Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and of HEROES, Washington, USA:
    DISCRIPTION: Abdel Basset Ali Al- Megrahi (there were to follow all of the data) afterwards:
    Abdel Basset Ali Al- Megrahi, one of the two suspects indicted for the bombing of Pan Am 103, is believed to be in Libya. The Libyan Government, against which the United Nations has invoked resolutions and sanctions, has been unwilling to turn Al- Megrahi over to the United Kingdom or United States for trial.

    The United States Department of State and the U.S. airline industry are offering a reward of up to $ 4,000,000 for information leading to the apprehension and prosecution of Al- Megrahi. The U.S. Government can also provide for the protection of identity and the possibility of relocation for persons and their families furnishing such information. If you have information about Al- Megrahi or the Pan Am 103 bombing, contact authorities or the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
    In the United States, call your local office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or 1-800- HEROES-1. All identities are kept strictly confidential.
    Jusice for Abdelbasset Al-Megrahi immediately. The 'Scottish Trial' was far from fair and proper!

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

  4. I looked up two of Dr Swire's references (I'm afraid the point of Davina Miller's article continues to escape me.)

    Gareth Peirce's article was really very good. I had been put off by daft claims Major McKee was a CIA officer attempting to blow the whistle on a drug trafficking ring and the unfounded claim a suitcase of drugs was found at Tundergarth.
    (I can guess where she got this from.)

    I was particularly interested to reread it in relation to Dr Hayes supposed discovery of the timer fragment. As she rightly said "Without Hayes' finding the Lockerbie prosecution would have been impossible". The purpose of this exhibit, the miraculous five sheets of PT/2 and the recreation of the "Horton Manual" was indeed to frame Megrahi.

    Now with MH17 the chickens have come home to roost. In the Lockerbie case evidence was fabricated (and the Heathrow evidence ignored)to provide a solution that served political objectives completely unrelated to the actual bombing itself.

    I did write to the SCCRC Director several months ago pointing out that the Statement of Reasons was fundamentally wrong and that it was irrefutable page 51 of Hayes' notes were significantly backdated. He "noted" the contents (i.e.that evidence had been falsified) but didn't propose to do anything about it! Recently some apparatchnik informs me they are going to review my one page letter alongside the other three volumes of submissions they have received from "Mr Megrahi's representative." (Are they having a laugh?) Dr Swire's initiative must have been like manna from heaven. If the key evidence in the case is demonstrably fabricated and the SCCRC are incapable of a fair and objective investigation independent of the interests of the Crown Office what on earth is is the point of three volumes of submissions? You can have your enquiry later.

    Patrick Shearer's letter to Dr Swire was prefaced with a much h more interesting document - Tam Dalyell's review of "Cover-up of Convenience". It was a hoot. He wrote how Francovich (ably assisted by drug trafficking conman Oswald LeWinter - whose earlier October Surprise scam gets the odd plug from someone called David Howard) "presented compelling evidence that the CIA was complicit in the disaster."
    Indeed he did but the evidence was blatantly fabricated! (Such evidence does however exist if you examine the evidence and not the claims of charlatans and fabricators.) Dalyell also remarks how Francovich's Deputy John Ashton "kept his spirit alive." Indeed he did but at an enormous cost to Megrahi!