[This is the headline over a report published on this date in 1993 in the Maltese newspaper The Times. It reads as follows:]
Air Malta has won an out-of-court settlement from an independent British television company over a programme it felt implied negligence on its part in the 1988 Lockerbie Pan Am airliner bombing, lawyers for the Maltese carrier said yesterday.
Granada Television agreed to pay Air Malta Company Limited £15,005 to settle the dispute in connection with a dramatised documentary Why Lockerbie? About the bombing of the Pan American World Airways Boeing 747 over Scotland in which 270 people were killed.
The payment was made without any admission of liability, Air Malta’s lawyers said in a statement.
Air Malta had objected to a reconstruction of how the bomb might have been smuggled into the international airline system. The dramatized segment showed an Arab checking the bag on to an Air Malta flight to Frankfurt.
The Pan Am flight from London to New York, carrying some passengers who had travelled from Frankfurt, was blown up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December 1988. Two suspected Libyan intelligence agents have been accused of carrying out the attack but Tripoli has not handed them over for trial.
[RB: Granada was compelled to settle because there was no credible evidence that the bomb started from Luqa Airport in Malta. The judges at the Zeist trial held that it had done so. What follows is my published comment at the time of the verdict:]
The trial judges held it proved that the bomb was contained in a piece of unaccompanied baggage which was transported on Air Malta flight KM 180 from Luqa to Frankfurt on 21 December 1988, and was then carried on a feeder flight to Heathrow where Pan Am flight 103 was loaded from empty. The evidence supporting the finding that there was such a piece of unaccompanied baggage was a computer printout which could be interpreted to indicate that a piece of baggage went through the particular luggage coding station at Frankfurt Airport used for baggage from KM 180, and was routed towards the feeder flight to Heathrow, at a time consistent with its having been offloaded from KM 180. Against this, the evidence from Luqa Airport in Malta (whose baggage reconciliation and security systems were proven to be, by international standards, very effective) was to the effect that there was no unaccompanied bag on that flight to Frankfurt. All luggage on that flight was accounted for. The number of bags loaded into the hold matched the number of bags checked in (and subsequently collected) by the passengers on the aircraft. The court nevertheless held it proved that there had been a piece of unaccompanied baggage on flight KM 180.
[RB: Dr Morag Kerr has since, in her book Adequately Explained by Stupidity? Lockerbie, Luggage and Lies, conclusively established that the bomb suitcase started its fatal progress at Heathrow Airport, not Luqa.]