[What follows is the text of a report headlined Warning of media risk to Lockerbie disaster prosecution that was published in The Herald on this date in 1989:]
The protection of any possible prosecution over the bombing of the PanAm flight that came down in Scotland last December was paramount, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, the Lord Advocate said yesterday when he called for restraint in reporting the Lockerbie criminal investigation.
He disclosed in a statement that reports about unaccompanied luggage having gone from Malta to Frankfurt “let alone unaccompanied baggage with a bomb in it” could not be substantiated by the Scottish police officer leading the inquiry.
Lord Fraser said in Edinburgh that he was deeply concerned and disturbed that reporting could reach a point which seriously jeopardised not only the international investigation but also any future court proceedings.
“It must be kept in mind that this is the largest mass murder investigation in recent times in Britain and it is incumbent upon us all to exercise restraint in the interests of justice,” he said.
“We all owe it to the 270 victims who perished as a result of the bombing of PanAm 103 and, just as importantly, the bereaved relatives, that the perpetrators are brought to justice,” he said.
“It is most important that this is not lost sight of, as speculative reporting causes dismay and distress to them.”
Lord Fraser's call follows intense reporting of the matter in recent days on both sides of the Atlantic.
He said that he had frequently made it clear that his prime concern, indeed his only concern, was the integrity of the investigation, which he said was being very methodically and skilfully conducted by the Lockerbie team under the direction of the chief constable.
“The purpose of the investigation is not simply to establish that there was a web of opportunity for those determined to commit this appalling terrorist outrage and assault on the sovereignty of the United States, but to identify those who did it and how they did so to a standard of proof to satisfy a criminal court,” he said.
“As Lord Advocate, I have to say our essential purpose is put at risk if premature disclosure shuts off lines of enquiry or puts potential witnesses under threat,” he stated.
Lord Fraser said that he had also noted considerable “ill-informed and inaccurate speculation” in relation to the Federal German Police and other international agencies.
“I want to make it quite clear that the degree of international co-operation in this case has been unprecedented and we would certainly not have reached the stage we are at had this not been the case,” he said.
“The Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway, Mr George Esson, has told me that he cannot substantiate reports about unaccompanied luggage having gone from Malta to Frankfurt let alone unaccompanied baggage with a bomb in it,” Lord Fraser said.
[RB: The Frankfurt Airport computer printout saved by Bogomira Erac that led the Zeist court to conclude (wrongly, it seems) that there had been an item of unaccompanied baggage from Malta was disclosed to the Scottish police by the German Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) in August 1989: see John Ashton, Megrahi: You are my Jury, pages 106-109. It is therefore a little difficult to understand why Peter Fraser should have chosen to go public in November 1989 with this statement.]