Sunday, 15 May 2016

John Ashton excoriates Kenny MacAskill

John Ashton has posted on his Megrahi: You are my Jury website this evening a detailed critique of the extract from Kenny MacAskill’s Lockerbie book that was published in The Sunday Times today. Mr Ashton’s article is headed Kenny MacAskill’s bungled Lockerbie book and it consists of the relevant portions of the MacAskill extract followed by corrections and commentary. This serves to demonstrate serious inaccuracies, flaws and omissions. John Ashton’s article is a must read.


  1. It is intriguing that MacAskill says that Megrahi didn't buy the clothes. He's not the brightest star in the legal firmament, but even he must be aware that by admitting that Megrahi didn't buy clothes from Tony Gauci, he is throwing open the door to Megrahi's exoneration. It was Megrahi's purchase of the clothes which links him evidentially to the explosion aboard PA 103. Without Megrahi as the clothes-buyer, all that links him to the Crown version of events is his presence at Luqa airport on 21 December.

    Could it be that Kenny realises that the Crown case has now been shown to be unsustainable and so weak as to be almost non-existent and that Megrahi's exoneration is now inevitable? And the best way to keep the blame on Libya is to big-up the Dornstein approach and make up the kind of speculative “evidence” which appears in his serialised book.

    The line would then be “yeah, well we got Megrahi in Gauci's shop wrong and we now have to let him off on a technicality, but he still did it, on the orders of Gaddafi, Senussi, Mousa Kousa, Abu Agela Masud and others”. This is similar to the approach taken by some interested parties in the Birmingham Six case. Certain senior police officers, prosecutors and politicians carried on claiming the Six were guilty, but had “got off” on technicalities long after they had been completely cleared by the appeal court and even after Chris Mullin had interviewed and filmed the real culprits admitting to the crime.

    Should we now expect an intensification of the smokescreen of rumour, fabrication and name-dropping while they quietly admit that Megrahi was not guilty as charged but was guilty anyway?

    1. I don't think he's as bright as you think he is. I don't think he realises. I think he was briefed in 2009 that the second appeal was set to be lost on that point, but that the Crown Office nevertheless believed he was guilty. I think he has come away with the impression that the point was conceded and wasn't that important.

      It's one thing to prepare the ground for losing an appeal, with a position hinting that you believe the appellant did it anyway, but quite another to concede the central point when you have not lost the appeal and are still trying to defend the conviction.

      I think the line you describe was precisely what was coming in 2009 if the appeal had gone to judgement, and Kenny remembers it and has simply let it loose.

      This is why demolishing the Malta introduction is so important. Come on people, let's be a bit pro-active about that.

  2. I'll say it again as a main comment. At one level I do not give a monkey's who carried out the atrocity. It's not my remit. My function when I have been involved professionally in forensic science is determining what was done. Who did it has never been my concern.

    If it was indeed the case that the Lockerbie bomb was introduced into the airport baggage system at Luqa airport on the morning of 21st December 1988 then I'd be looking at Megrahi with a somewhat suspicious eye myself. I'd have to concede that there was no actual evidence against him other than his presence there (along with no doubt several hundred other people) and that there were no grounds to convict him, but I'd maybe still wonder. (Possibly I'd wonder rather less on discovering that Masoud was there too, on the principle that the main argument, "Well if it wasn't Megrahi then who was it?" seems to have a plausible answer.)

    I would still maintain that Megrahi's conviction was a miscarriage of justice, but I'd be maintaining that on the basis of recognising that there simply wasn't a case against him, rather than from the position of realising there is positive evidence to show that he didn't do it.

    I pretty much always felt that way. My interest has always been in the route of the bomb suitcase, from the moment I read Hans Köchler's report on the appeal proceedings and then Paul Foot's seminal monograph. If the bomb went on at Luqa then someone who was at Luqa did it, and Megrahi was one of those someones. But if the bomb didn't go on at Luqa, then the entire equation is different.

    The bomb didn't go on at Luqa. There is "considerable and quite convincing evidence" that no illicit unaccompanied suitcase was loaded on to KM180. The partial remains of the Frankfurt baggage records that remained after some idiot allowed the full dataset to be over-written a week after the disaster most certainly do not prove that an illicit unaccompanied suitcase was unloaded from that plane, let alone that it was a brown Samsonite with a bomb in it.

    There is also considerable and absolutely convincing evidence that the brown Samsonite which exploded over Lockerbie was the brown Samsonite John Bedford saw in the baggage container at Heathrow, an hour before the connecting flight from Frankfurt arrived.


  3. I have been banging this drum for three years now. I have set out my evidence and reasoning in meticulous detail. I have actually spent a couple of thousand pounds on publishing this, as opposed to Kenny touting his execrably-written tome to big publishers on the basis of his former position. I'm not saying I'm tired of being ignored, I'm used to it, but it does get wearing sometimes.

    In my Lockerbie researches I took care to acquire and read every serious book and article about the case, even those out of print. I have read Johnston, Emerson & Duffy, Leppard, Coleman, Wallis, Foot, Ashton & Ferguson, Marquise, Crawford, Ashton (x2) and a couple of others so obscure they don't even figure on an Amazon search.

    This was on top of reading all the court documents I could get my hands on, including large chunks of the original transcript. I have read stacks of German police memos, in German, and the reports of the German investigators into the Frankfurt baggage records. Not to mention double-checking their conclusions against facsimiles of the original hand-written worksheets. I have read all the witness statements dealing with the loading of the container at Heathrow.

    I did this first because I genuinely wanted to know the truth. If the truth had been a Luqa loading, so be it. But I also did it because I didn't want to embarrass myself by claiming something that wasn't so, or overlooking something that was fatal to my emerging thesis.

    Kenny MacAskill has cobbled together a fairy-tale based on second-hand innuendo, and done no fact-checking that I can see. John Ashton has taken him to the cleaners and rightly so, but Kenny is a former Scottish government minister who holds to the establishment line so he gets a fat book contract and a serialisation in the Sunday Times. John is a conspiracy theorist who is perpetually sidelined.

    Kenny hasn't even taken the elementary step of reading published evidence that counters his preconceived narrative. He claims to have read John Ashton's main book on the subject, but then he completely misrepresents what it says. He clearly hasn't read my book at all. Possibly the copy I sent to him arrived to late for him to incorporate the material? Who knows, he didn't even acknowledge it.

    The bomb didn't fly in on KM180. That's as near a certainty as it possibly can be, now. I think it's time everyone who wants to see this mess resolved started saying that, loudly and clearly, and refusing to listen to any counter-assertion by anyone who hasn't read the sodding evidence.

  4. I don't think he's very bright - I say so in my second line. Even so,I'd be very surprised if Kenny somehow thought that the issue of who bought the clothes had already been conceded. Bright or not, he can't be so dim that he forgot what the offical version is regarding the only physical link between Megrahi and the bomb on the plane: the Gauci clothes. In any case, it's highly unlikely that his draft for publication was not pored over by people from the Crown Office, Police and, probably, someone close to the spooks on both sides of the Atlantic. When officials like Kenny publish books, the draft usually has to be vetted by a wide range of interests to ensure, for example, that no-one is named who needs to be kept in the shadows. Conceding that the clothes purchaser was not megrahi is big and it is deliberate. What I don't know is why - hence my speculation above.

    1. I read what you wrote. I meant he wasn't even as bright as that. ;)

  5. But to get serious about your comment Aku, that's a very important point and it's one I hadn't really considered. I was imagining my own writing effort, sitting at home night after night, with only Bob Black and Robert Forrester reading draft chapters, and latterly James Robertson providing helpful input. My eventual decision to self-publish was mainly due to a realisation that publishers would want to mess around with it and force the deletion of things they were nervous about. Editing for style and readability is one thing, editing because a lawyer is breathing over your shoulder is something else, something I didn't want to do.

    But of course it wouldn't have been like that with Kenny's book, would it? Could it? In principle you're absolutely right. This should have been gone over with the proverbial fine-tooth comb by the Crown Office and others. But if it was, how can the farrago of error, misunderstanding and partial recollection that doesn't even hold to the Official Line possibly be explained? It's not just the clothes purchase that's problematic there, it's the whole idea that the atrocity was indeed Iran's revenge for the IR655 disaster after all, and that Libya merely stepped in after the BKA had neutralised the PFLP-GC. That is completely off piste.

  6. I don't know for sure just how much Kenny's book was written for him (maybe none of it, maybe all of it or something in between), but there is far too much in the files about Lockerbie and far too much potential damage to allow one person to write their own account unchecked. Yet when Kenny says that Megrahi did not buy the clothes, then all of Gauci, the new identities in Australia,the salmon-fishing trips, the US$3m, the 20 or so statements, the repeated shambolic photo-ID spreads, the weeks of Bell's and Crawford's time, and so much more besides, are all out the window. And the next question has to be "Precisely WHEN did Kenny and cops and the spooks know that Megrahi didn't buy the clothes?" Kenny doesn't say that Megrahi's purchase of the clothes is now questionable or we realise that the ID parades and photo spreads were not compliant with best practice or anything like that.....He says that Megrahi did not buy the clothes. To me, as far as the Crown case is concerned, that is almost on a par with your proof of the IED's Heathrow origin and PT35(b)'s lack of lead in the tinning. As for the "taking over to help brother terrorist out" theory, I'm not so sure this is wildly off-piste. In my research, this theory has often hung about in the background and many people who accept the Libya/Megrahi-did-it version of events also accept that Libya may have taken it on when the PFLP-GC got into bother. All the Zeist judges said about the PFLP-GC was that "there was no evidence from which we could infer that they were involved in this particular act of terrorism". The particular act of terrorism was the actual murder of those who dies at Lockerbie. The judges also said that they accepted that PFLP-GC were involved in terrorism during the same period as the Lockerbie attack. I don't think the Crown version and PFLP-GC involvement would be mutually exclusive. But I agree that there is some other wierd stuff from Kenny in the little bit of the book we've seen so far.

    1. Based on what I've seen so far Kenny doesn't need an editor, he needs a ghost writer. Would anyone else write so badly?

      You are absolutely right in everything you say. "How long has the Justice Secretary - and presumably the police - known that Megrahi wasn't the man who bought the clothes?" What a killer question.

      You're also right that it's as big as the other two points. Probably bigger than the tinning thing which, although massively intriguing and mysterious, seems to take on a significance beyond its actual importance in the case against Megrahi. The identification evidence is vital for two reasons. One because the rest of the circumstantial case against Megrahi is candy-floss without the finding that he was conclusively linked to the terrorist plot through the clothes. Second, the judges' reasoning for preferring the virtually non-existent evidence about KM180 over the much more compelling Heathrow evidence was that the man who bought the clothes was at the airport when KM180 departed. Remove that, and tray 8849 is just another unexplained anomaly tray (like 5620 and some of the ones that probably came from Berlin).

      I think Kenny's departure from the Official Line about the disco bombing and its aftermath and Iran having taken a bum rap is still very significant though.

    2. Rolfe The fiber glass on PT35B is American glass cloth 7628 made by 'HEXCEL CORP'1913 NORTH KING ST TEXAS 78155,The track's on the board are coated with pure tin from a electrolsis grade solder from 'Radio Shack' i hope that will help you with the 'Massively Intriguing and Mysterious' PT35B.

    3. Electroless plating, do you mean? I thought that's what it was.

      I just checked Ludwig de Braeckeleer's blog and he hasn't updated it for ages. And I have very little clue where he was going with it last year, though he did make a couple of interesting points. So where did you get that from? If that's reliable, it's certainly massively intriguing.

    4. I have been looking at PT35B for a very long time and reading every page on Robert's Blog if you go to October 2013 on Robert Blog scroll down to John Aston's page and where it states can been read here & here one of the firms who helped the D&G on PT35B stated on his report he said PT35B is American glass cloth 7628 i have also read somewhere on the blog the F.B.I requested the D&G not to look at American firm's who make fiber glass boards the F.B.I also stopped the D&G going to Universal Labs as this lab is like our kite mark and approves every thing that is sold in the U.S.A. P.S. Sorry about the spelling.