[This is the headline over a letter from Dr Morag Kerr published yesterday on the website of The National. It reads as follows:]
May I correct an inadvertent error in your article “MacAskill reported over Lockerbie book” (The National, May 17)?
The article implied that the material in my own book, Adequately Explained by Stupidity? Lockerbie, Luggage and Lies was included by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission in its six grounds for believing that the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing might have been a miscarriage of justice. This is not the case.
The six grounds cited by the SCCRC in its 2007 report all relate to the identification of Megrahi as the man who bought the clothes packed around the bomb.
As your article correctly observed, Megrahi’s actual appearance differed wildly from the witness Tony Gauci’s original description of the purchaser, and the weather conditions (and incidentally evidence relating to the Christmas lights in the town) placed the purchase on a day when there is no evidence Megrahi was even on Malta.This flawed identification was absolutely fundamental to the original conviction of Megrahi in 2001, and Mr MacAskill’s repudiation of the identification in his forthcoming book is thus of enormous significance.
My own book deals principally with a different aspect of the case, that of the method by which the bomb suitcase was introduced into the airline baggage system.
This analysis was not carried out until after the SCCRC had completed its investigation, and thus it was not included in its 2007 report.
The issue is however now assuming overwhelming importance.
It appears that both Kenny MacAskill and Alex Salmond (on Scotland Tonight, May 16) now accept that Megrahi did not buy these clothes, nevertheless they continue to insist that he was “involved somehow”, based principally on his presence at Malta airport on the morning of the disaster.
The original Lockerbie investigation believed that the bomb suitcase was smuggled on to an Air Malta flight at that time.This belief was however fundamentally mistaken, based on a flawed and incomplete analysis of the recovered crash debris.
Careful analysis of the blast-damaged suitcases and adjacent items shows beyond any reasonable doubt that the bomb was in a suitcase seen in the baggage container at Heathrow an hour before the connecting flight from Frankfurt landed.
Mr MacAskill is thus incorrect in his assertion that “there is no suggestion” that the bomb suitcase was not transferred to the Pan Am feeder flight at Frankfurt. The evidence for this having happened is extremely questionable. The evidence for the bomb’s presence at Heathrow is, in contrast, well-nigh irrefutable. This being the case, not only did Megrahi not buy the clothes, he was a thousand miles away from the actual scene of the crime.
I do not know who carried out the Lockerbie bombing, still less who masterminded it.
It is plain that this will never be known until the authorities understand that they need to be looking for people who were in London in the afternoon, not on Malta in the morning.