Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Megrahi: an unbreakable alibi

[Two letters about the Lockerbie case have been published in the press today. The first is from Dr Morag Kerr in The National and the second from Ruth Marr in The Herald:]

1.  Every article about Lockerbie seems to home in on one specific point, that of the contentious “timer fragment” which led the original police investigation to Libya back in 1990. Kathleen Nutt’s piece in your Monday issue is no exception.

The timer fragment is interesting, indeed fascinating, for many complex reasons.  Nevertheless the perennial implication that it is essential for this item to be a fabrication or a plant in order for Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s conviction to be shown to be a miscarriage of justice is unfounded.

The Crown alleged that the bomb that destroyed Pan Am 103 was smuggled into the airline baggage system on the morning of 21st December 1988, at Luqa airport, Malta.  Megrahi was at Luqa airport that morning, caching a flight to Tripoli.  This was and remains the main substance of the case against him, together with the allegation that he was the mysterious customer who bought some of the clothes packed in the suitcase with the bomb.

The SCCRC’s 2007 report effectively destroyed the contention that Megrahi was the clothes purchaser.  More recently, long-held suspicions that the scene of the crime was not Malta but London have been shown to be correct.

In my recent book Adequately Explained by Stupidity? (Matador Books, 2013), I present a detailed analysis of the blast-damaged luggage and its arrangement within the baggage container which shows quite conclusively that the bomb was in a suitcase seen at Heathrow airport fully an hour before the connecting flight alleged to be carrying the “suitcase from Malta” arrived.  The Lockerbie bombing is a crime that occurred in London in late afternoon, at a time when Megrahi was verifiably in Tripoli.

The book is included as part of the 2014 submission to the SCCRC referred to in your article, and indeed it is believed that this is the first time a published book has been used in this way in an appeal application under Scots law.  The analysis it contains doesn’t merely cast doubt on the case against Megrahi, it provides him with an unbreakable alibi.

Maybe the timer fragment was planted, maybe it fell from the sky. Either way, Megrahi was a thousand miles away when the lethal suitcase was placed in the unattended baggage container.

2.  When Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi was first convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, I thought it strange that his co-accused and fellow Libyan agent should have been acquitted.

Surely agents worked in pairs?

That proved to be not the only question surrounding the Lockerbie tragedy which continues to haunt a great many people who believe that Megrahi's conviction was at the very least, unsafe. Indeed, on the evidence which was presented at his trial, it seems impossible to believe that a jury would have delivered a guilty verdict against him. Given the fact that the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission found six grounds which point to the possibility of Megrahi suffering a miscarriage of justice, it is incredible that the Crown Office should now declare that a review of the case "confirmed beyond doubt'" that Megrahi was the Lockerbie bomber ("Advice is sought on Lockerbie bomber conviction", The Herald, December 23).

I have grave doubts regarding Megrahi's conviction and I need to know the truth. More importantly, all those who continue to suffer the effects of the atrocity, especially the bereraved families, including the Megrahi family, and the town of Lockerbie, need to know. If there has been a failure in the Scottish Justice system, we all need to know.

A full public inquiry must be held to provide answers to the questions which will not go away, because no matter how inconvenient the truth may be, the victims and their families deserve nothing less.


  1. Megrahi was convicted of loading a ‘bomb-case on a plane’ at Luqa by methods unknown! But the airport authorities said the ‘bomb-case’ wasn’t loaded at Luqa and won damages against Panorama for saying it was!

    This alone makes his conviction unsafe.

    The defence at Zeist was allowed to say ‘someone else did it’ but not question the forensics of what caused it!

    The ‘Heathrow Theory’ plays to the ‘someone else’ defence but is not needed because it’s far-fetched and trumped by the lack of evidence of the ‘bomb-case’ being loaded at Luqa.

    To overturn a miscarriage of justice it is only necessary to prove who didn’t do it rather than speculate on who did and I doubt it is even within the remit of the SCCRC to look at other explanations other than the facts of the Zeist judgement.

  2. Nobody knows who put the brown suitcase into the baggage container apart from the man who put it there and his associates. Fortunately it's not necessary to know who did it, merely that it was done. It was done at approximately 4.30 pm, in London. At that time, Megrahi was in Tripoli.

    That should be the end of it, really. It won't be, though.