Saturday, 10 September 2016

Lockerbie: Heathrow break-in revealed

[This is the headline over a report published in The Independent on this date in 2001. It reads as follows:]

New evidence relating to the bombing of the Lockerbie jumbo jet was revealed today.
A former security guard at Heathrow airport says he discovered a break-in at a Pan Am baggage facility early on the day that 270 people died in the bombing of the New York-bound flight.
Ray Manly, 63, was quoted in The Mirror as saying he was surprised that the incident was not mentioned during the trial of two Libyans for the bombing.
The Scottish Office, the government executive office in Scotland, would not comment on the report because an appeal is pending.
Manly said that anti-terrorist police questioned him after the bombing, but the report was not mentioned in the trial that led to the 31 January conviction of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence agent. A co-defendant, Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted.
Prosecutors alleged that the bomb had been hidden in a suitcase and put aboard an aircraft in Malta. It was then alleged route through Frankfurt to London and the Pan Am flight.
Manly's statement suggested the possibility that the bomb was sneaked into a luggage area in London.
In sworn affidavits, he said he had found a padlock had been cut from a door that led to Pan Am's baggage about 18 hours before Flight 103 took off, The Mirror said.
"I believe it would have been possible for an unauthorized person to obtain tags for a particular Pan Am flight then, having broken the ... lock, to have introduced a tagged bag into the baggage buildup area," Manly was quoted as saying.
The Mirror reported that Al-Megrahi's lawyers may use the new information in an appeal scheduled to begin on 15 October at Camp Zeist, a former US air base in the Netherlands where the initial trial was held.
If the appeal is rejected, al-Megrahi, 48, will serve his life sentence in a Scottish prison. Judges recommended a minimum term of 20 years.
During the proceedings, defense attorneys suggested a bomb could have been introduced into the inter-airport luggage system, either in Frankfurt or London. The defense also tried to throw suspicion onto two Palestinian groups.
The New York-bound Pan Am flight was over Lockerbie, Scotland, on 21 December in 1988 when it exploded, sending 259 passengers and crew to their deaths. Eleven people were killed on the ground.
[RB: The concealment from Megrahi’s defence team of the evidence relating to the Heathrow break-in is the subject of one of Justice for Megrahi’s allegations of criminal misconduct in the Lockerbie investigation, prosecution and trial that are currently under investigation by Police Scotland.]

1 comment:

  1. Certain hostile (and ill-informed) commentators (yes Magnus Linklater I'm looking at you) make a big deal about Manly's evidence as if it's the cornerstone of the entire Heathrow introduction theory. It's not. In that context it's almost irrelevant.

    Security at Heathrow was acknowledged to be abysmal. Many hundreds (some say up to 2000) airside passes were simply unaccounted-for. Once someone was airside they could do what they liked - there were no further checks. Bedford, when asked who else might have put a suitcase into ABE4041 that afternoon replied, "Anyone who worked at the airport." That is, anyone who was airside.

    So there is absolutely no necessity for Manly's evidence in order to substantiate the Heathrow loading scenario. That rests on proving that the exploding suitcase was on the bottom layer of luggage in the container, and reconciles to the case Bedford described seening in the front left position at quarter to five. Take Manly away and that doesn't change at all.

    The interesting thing about Manly's evidence isn't that it supports the Heathrow loading theory in itself. It may do, it could have been the terrorists secreting the bomb suitcase airside to be retrieved later, but it may have had nothing to do with the bombing. There are many other possible ways the suitcase could have been smuggled airside. The interesting feature of the Manly story is the way it was ignored by the police in February/March 1989.

    Manly's statement, and Radford's and the other supporting evidence, were sent to Lockerbie in early February. There they were considered "in the light of a number of emerging lines of inquiry" and the decision was made to file the entire episode away as being of no interest whatsoever.

    This is utterly baffling, given the stage of the inquiry at the time, and the existing statements from Bedford, Kamboj, Parmar, Sidhu and Sahota that were received by the inquiry at much the same time (or just before).