[On this date in 1989 the Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci was first interviewed by Scottish police in connection with Lockerbie. What follows is a section from Dr Kevin Bannon’s PhD thesis:]
The development of Tony Gauci’s statements from his first police interviews in September 1989 through to his testimony in court, reveal his recollections systematically developing in favour of the Crown narrative, in increasing contradiction of all his freshest recollections. This is transparently evident in the following compendium in which each subject of Gauci’s testimony in bold type is followed by actual or accepted facts summarised in italics, below which the essential statements are put chronologically:
1. Stature of the Purchaser:
The height and build of the purchaser. Al-Megrahi was 5’7” tall, average build.
1 September1989: ‘Six feet or more in height’ big chest, large head, well built.
26 September 1989: ‘around six feet or just under that in height’ and ‘broad built’.
11 July 2000 (Camp Zeist): ‘..below six feet’. ‘He wasn’t small. He was a normal stature’.
2. Purchase of clothing:
Slalom shirts. 2 Slalom shirts found at Lockerbie, one grey and one blue & white.
1 September 1989: No mention in statements of any shirts sold.
30 January 1990: ‘That man didn’t buy any shirts for sure’…‘I am sure I did not sell him a shirt’.
10 September 1990: I now remember that the man who bought the clothing also bought a beige ‘Slalom’ shirt and a blue and white striped shirt.’
11 July 2000 (Camp Zeist: asked ‘How many shirts did the Libyan buy?’): ‘Two’ shirts ‘Slalom, something Slalom’ one ‘blue checked’ and the other ‘greenish’. ‘It’s greenish and greyish. It’s more greyish…’
Pyjamas. 1 pair, striped, found at Lockerbie.
1 September 1989: ‘3 pair pyjamas’ (un-described).
11 July 2000: Did he buy any pairs of pyjamas? ‘Yes he did. He bought two pairs, striped’.
Cardigans. Fragments of 2 Cardigans found, one black and one brown.
1 September 1989: 1 cardigan (listed). Black and red colour.
11 July 2000: ‘..two pullovers.’ ‘They were cardigans.’ ‘One was blue, the other was a brownish colour’.
‘Babygro’ romper suit. Crash-site find had lamb’s head motif.
1 September 1989: Gauci said that the Babygro had a sheep’s face on the front.
13 September 1989: Gauci reiterated that the Babygro had a sheep’s head, even when shown the control sample with a lamb’s head, declaring that the sheep’s head design had been discontinued since he received it. Police subsequently established that the Babygro manufacturer had never produced a sheep’s head design.
4 October 1989: Gauci initially declared he was not sure about the sheep’s head design. Then said he was "fairly certain" that the Babygro sold to the purchaser had a lamb motif.
Payments for items sold. Gauci’s uncorroborated figures (in Maltese Pounds):
1 September 1989: Sale was £76.50, purchaser paid in £10 notes and received £4 change. Gauci later said the purchaser paid a total of £56 in cash.
19 September 1989: Second cardigan recollection; raises the sale to £88.
10 September 1990: Sale of 2 shirts raises Gauci’s recollected bill to £97 or £98.50.
11 July 2000: Purchaser gave him £80 for a total bill of £77.
3. Time and circumstances of purchase:
Rain. Meteorological evidence: 90% probability of no rain in Sliema on December 7.
1 September1989: ‘..it was raining’.
21 February 1990: ‘it had almost stopped raining, and it was just drops coming down’.
10 September 1990: ‘very little rain on the ground, no running water, just damp’.
11 July 2000, (Camp Zeist): ‘..it started dripping. Not very -- it was not raining heavily. It was simply -- it was simply dripping’.
11 July 2000: ‘It wasn't raining. It wasn't raining. It was just drizzling’.
Christmas lights/decorations. Decorations up and switched on 6 December 1988.
19 September 1989: ‘The decorations were not up when the man bought the clothes’.
10 September 1990: ‘There were no Christmas decorations up, as I have already said...’
11 July, 2000 (Camp Zeist): ‘..yes, there were Christmas lights. They were on already. I’m sure.
Date of purchase. Only December 7 fitted with al-Megrahi’s movements.
19 September 1989: ‘…I believe it…was at the end of November’.
8 October 1999 Precognition of Tony Gauci: ‘I remember it was the 29th of the month. I think it was November’. (Gauci recalled the date because he’d had a row with his girlfriend on that day).
11 July 2000 (Camp Zeist) : It must have been about a fortnight before Christmas. I don’t know whether it was a week or two weeks before Christmas’.
Second visit of Libyan customer. Al-Megrahi was not in Malta on September, 25 1989.
26 Sept 1989: Gauci said that the Libyan customer had returned to his shop the previous day (September 25) to buy dresses for a four-year-old child.
2 October 1989: (DCI Bell’s report of statement) Gauci said he was only 50% sure that the same Libyan had returned to the shop.
4 November 1991: Gauci said that the man who bought children’s dresses ‘really looked like’ [the purchaser]. Gauci seemed confused about the date of the visit.
18 March 1999 / 25 August 1999 (Precognition of Tony Gauci). Noted in DCI Bell’s words: ‘the man who bought the dresses looked like the purchaser but it was not the same person’.
Even minor details of Gauci’s testimony, including the collar sizes of shirts and the size of a jacket sold to the Libyan, drift consistently in favour of the Crown narrative.
It was not a secret that well before the Camp Zeist identification parade, Gauci had been exposed to newspaper articles featuring pictures of al-Megrahi including speculation about him as a suspect. In later SCCRC interviews, Gauci firstly admitted seeing the articles but could not recall specifics about them. Later he said that he could not recall seeing the articles at all, and later still he confirmed that he had not seen them - a transformation in the same, stepped fashion as most of his ‘recollections’ which at the very least, confirm his ineptitude as a witness.
Therefore, it is not merely the case (as has often been stated) that Gauci’s evidence was contradictory, but that in every aspect, it changed in favour of the Crown narrative, in some instances quite drastically. Gauci’s original, freshest recollections about the appearance of the Libyan purchaser and the time of his visit, would have, and should have, categorically eliminated al-Megrahi from suspicion.
Gauci’s testimony, the centrepiece of the case against al-Megrahi and, by implication, the principal Libyan connection to the crime, simply has no integrity whatsoever - nevertheless he was given a substantial financial reward for his latter evidence. These discrepancies render the entire case against al-Megrahi invalid. Of course this means that the considerable body of Camp Zeist testimony implicating al-Megrahi, such as the testimony of Majid Giaka, is false.