Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Steering the Lockerbie investigation away from Heathrow

[What follows is a lightly-edited amalgamation of two comments posted today by Dr Morag Kerr (Rolfe) on the thread Police investigations in Lockerbie case "moved very quickly away from Heathrow".]

It is my belief that John Orr deliberately steered the investigation away from Heathrow from the very earliest days of the inquiry. That Times article [Disaster bomb was ‘placed on board Jumbo at Frankfurt’ The Times, 31 December 1988] which must have been written on 30 December didn't come out of nowhere. It has a startling amount of detail on the methodologies of the PFLP-GC as well as the headline that the bomb came from Frankfurt and not Heathrow.

It takes a very special sort of stupid to receive Bedford's 9th January statement describing a brown Samsonite hardshell in the container in the interline shed at Heathrow, and reports (the same month) from the forensic scientists that the bomb had been in a brown Samsonite hardshell, and do NOTHING to connect the two. I mean, Bedford described two suitcases which appeared while he was on his break, and then concentrated on "one of them", which he described in detail. The one on the left was in the correct position to have been the bomb, the one on the right wasn't. Nobody even asked him which of the two cases he was referring to as a brown Samsonite hardshell. (Only at the FAI [Fatal Accident Inquiry], in October 1990, did he answer that he was talking about the one on the left.)

On 2 February 1989 Ray Manly's statement was received at Lockerbie. It was entered into HOLMES and filed away as being of no interest whatsoever to the inquiry. In other words, Heathrow had already been discounted as early as that.

The "nonsense on stilts" at the March meeting about most of the damaged luggage being from Frankfurt so probably the bomb suitcase was too, has more than a whiff of deliberate obfuscation about it. Are we really supposed to believe that a senior detective heading an inquiry of this magnitude is that stupid? But who would dare contradict him?

It wasn't just Orr, though. Parallel with his ignoring of the Heathrow baggage evidence, we see the forensics officers unite as one to declare that the explosion had not been in the suitcase on the floor of the container. This wasn't just the RARDE experts (principally Feraday, but also Cullis and Hayes), but also the AAIB inspectors, principally Claiden and Protheroe. The first report containing this opinion was written by Peter Claiden and is dated April 1989.

Now, the explosion WAS in the suitcase on the floor of the container. That's incontrovertible, once you realise where PK/139 was positioned within the container. (Nobody even mentions PK/139 in any of the reports. It's just sitting there in a composite photo, mutely screaming "look at me", and nobody paid the slightest attention to it.) And PK/139 is just the single most blindingly obvious piece of evidence - multiple strands of evidence reinforce each other to show that there was no suitcase below the bomb suitcase.

So how come we have about six investigators from two different institutes, who were officially working separately on the case, lining up to ignore the bleedin' obvious, and declare a mystic knowledge that the recovered floor of the container would have looked different if the bomb had been in the bottom suitcase?

Not once in any of their reports is there any acknowledgement that the case on the bottom was from Heathrow, while the case on the second layer was from Frankfurt. All that vehemence to exclude the bottom case, and they don't even seem to know that by doing this they are absolving Heathrow. And yet, why bother making the distinction in the first place unless you know that the two cases have different provenances?

So, at the same time Orr was ignoring Bedford, Feraday and assorted hangers-on were insisting that the case in the position of the one Bedford saw wasn't the bomb. Quite independently, of course. And equally in defiance of the evidence in front of them. 

I think Orr probably used this forensic opinion later to justify ignoring the Bedford case, but that's retrospective, as he was ignoring it well before the opinion was reported.

So, if Orr was acting on instructions from on high, it seems quite plausible that someone in the forensics team (probably Feraday) was also receiving instructions to interpret the evidence in a way that would deflect from Heathrow. (I suspect Claiden's April 1989 report might have had a wee nudge from Feraday, although at the FAI he was at some pains to declare that the two teams who were examining the wreckage together - and probably eating lunch together and so on - didn't communicate at all.)

So, was one agency directing both Orr and Feraday in this? Seems likely. All to prevent BAA and Heathrow from being culpable in the loss of 270 lives, and to hell with whether the actual bombers were caught or not. So who?

Who privatised BAA in 1986? Who wrote stuff in her memoirs which pretty clearly indicated she knew full well that Gaddafi had not been behind the Lockerbie bombing? [RB: Margaret Thatcher, The Downing Street Years, 1993, page 449.]

Well, I'm speculating as to motive. However, I have an extremely strong sense of both arms of the investigation (police and forensics) being separately pressurised to deliver opinions that absolved the Bedford case. And it seems only logical that the same person or body was pressurising both groups.

I very much doubt if there was any US influence in this area at all. I think the Americans were frying entirely different fish. It smells home-grown to me. So, I go figure.

I think the Americans wanted to blame Libya and Gaddafi, but if it had been proved to have been the PFLP-GC they'd have had to accept that. At first the evidence pointing to the PFLP-GC appeared overwhelming, and they seem to have conceded the point. However, nobody could find any connection between the PFLP-GC and KM180 at Malta.

If you're looking for the right culprit in the wrong place, you're doomed to fail. The police failed, but never considered that was because they were looking in the wrong place. They ran into the sand. Which was a convenient moment for the US authorities to step in and resurrect the idea that maybe they should all have been looking for Libyans not Palestinians, and maybe if they investigated this Libyan guy they'd find something.


  1. Some day I may figure this out. That day is not today, however.

    Two different states investigating the bombing, with different agendas. Not necessarily conflicting, but separate. The Brits don't want their favourite airport to be blamed - far better if the security lapse was somewhere else. The Yanks don't want it to have been Iran, because if it was that means that their mishandling of the IR655 disaster has caused the loss of another 270 lives. Far better if it was the catch-all blame-taker, Gaddafi.

    At first it looks as if the Yanks are on a loser, but the British machinations prevent the case being solved the easy way, and in the end the Americans get the chance to put their agenda back on the rails.

    That's kind of the easy bit.

    There's also the positive misdirection. It looks very much as if someone was laying a trail of sweeties to Malta, which was only picked up on because there was a police force happy to look anywhere but where the real evidence pointed. It also looks as if someone might have been laying a trail pointing to Libya. PT/35b and so on. The catch-letter too, possibly.

    Is this again confusion caused by two separate agencies pursuing different agendas? Perhaps the real culprits laying the trail to Malta, and the CIA slipping in evidence to point to Libya? Could the latter even have prepared one or two things, just in case the Ayatollah somehow succeeded in doing what he was threatening to do?

    But Malta is very close to Libya, ain't that convenient. And somehow the clothes purchaser managed to leave the impression he was Libyan, as he was acquiring the eminently traceable clothes pointing to Malta. So were the two exercises entirely separate? Bearing in mind that the PFLP-GC appeared to have been infiltrated and Khreesat was a Jordanian asset?

    And then again, was Megrahi's presence at the airport at just the right time yet another convenient coincidence, or was that somehow factored in? What was Abu Talb doing with all these Maltese clothes, in his flat in Sweden?

    All moonshine, probably. But the bomb being introduced at Heathrow and the Scottish police and English authorities walking straight past a mountain of evidence to that effect isn't moonshine. It's a howling scandal.


    Some of Scottish Police and the Experts Feraday Allen and Dr. Hayes were not blind, all did know that with false evidence - (MST-13 timerfragment) - was worked to incriminate Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and Libya, with "reverse-engineered" evidence, that al Megrahi what guilty.

    Switzerland (BAP) had agreed with Lord Advocate of Scotland, mutual legal assistance on 30th October 1989. Why were the crucial evidence part, the MST 13 timer (PT-35) for investigation, not brought to the forensic police institute in Zurich, but to the company Siemens in Germany?
    The backgrounds are clear today - criminal !

    Witness Tony Gauci, shopkeeper in Malta - his eventual identification of al Megrahi in court, was regarded as pivotal in persuading the judges of his guilt.
    If Gauci a photograph of al Megrahi in a magazine shortly before he was asked to identify the Libyan at his trial.
    There's no doubt al Megrahi was inter alia convicted because of Gauci's wilful false identification.

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd Telecommunication Switzerland. Webpage:

  3. Perhaps Megrahi's arrival in Malta was the signal for the introduction of the bomb and the mad dash to get Matthew Gannon on the plane.

    I wouldn't describe Orr as stupid. As his successors have also demonstrated the first rule of successful Police work is to know which side your bread is buttered. Does Rolfe think Patrick Shearer would have got the job if he hadn't signed in blood that he would never, ever challenge the Lockerbie verdict?

    From the British perspective the creation of the "Libyan solution" was about disarming the IRA (following the interception of the Eksund) which led to MI5 taking over responsibility for intelligence in Malta from MI6.

    I did point out to the Crown Office in 1998 that the primary suitcase was introduced at Heathrow. Their response was I should wait to see the evidence. (Majid Giaka - very impressive!) Then it turned out their central evidence was fabricated anyway!

    Morag Kerr's book was belt and braces (then more belts and braces) but at its core the evidence for the Heathrow origin is much simpler - you don't need to write a book the back of a postcard (or a stamp!) would suffice. If the "Bedford" Samsonite wasn't the primary suitcase then whose suitcase was it and why was it never recovered unless it was the primary suitcase? How come it was "eliminated" in theory but never in actuality?