Saturday, 9 February 2019

Death of Senior Investigating Officer of Lockerbie atrocity

[What follows is excerpted from a report published today on the website of the Edinburgh Evening News:]

Heartfelt tributes have been paid to one of the Capital’s “outstanding” police officers.

Former Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Henderson MBE headed up the Lockerbie investigation and helped bring some of Scotland’s most notorious killers to justice.

He died, aged 78, after an illness on January 31 with a funeral at Warriston Crematorium later this month.

Former Lothian and Borders Police deputy chief constable Tom Wood rose through the ranks under DCS Henderson.

The pair worked in CID together and the major investigations unit for 20 years – helping bring killers Robert Black and Angus Sinclair to justice.

“Stuart was a friend of mine and we worked together for many years. He was an outstanding man with unbounded enthusiasm,” said Mr Wood. (...)

“He was committed to the job, most latterly as senior investigating officer of Lockerbie. It was an enormous job and would’ve crushed most men – but not Stuart. I was very, very sad to hear of his death at a relatively young age. He was super physically fit – an incredible character.

“He did nothing in half measures. Everything he did was 100 per cent, that’s the kind of guy he was and everybody who worked with him would recognise that.

“He was one of the outstanding police officers of his generation and a first class detective.”

Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone last night praised Mr Henderson for remaining close to families affected by Lockerbie.

Mr Livingstone said: “He performed his public service with skill and commitment and will be sorely missed.”

[Stuart Henderson's name has featured frequently on this blog. His conduct as Lockerbie SIO, and especially his Lockerbie-related interventions in the years following, have been subjected here to strong and, I would contend, entirely justified, criticism.

What follows is excerpted from the obituary of Mr Henderson that appeared in The Scotsman on 13 February 2019:]

Henderson went on (...)  to forge a career in CID that ultimately saw him take charge of the biggest mass murder inquiry in Scottish criminal history – the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in December 1988.

On the night of December 21, 1988 he was the most ­senior Lothian and Borders police officer on duty in Edinburgh and went immediately to the site of the Lockerbie disaster, likening it to a war zone.

For two years he was deputy senior investigating officer for Strathclyde Police’s John Orr on the case which involved the murders of 259 passengers and crew on the plane and 11 residents on the ground. Then, in 1990, when John Orr became deputy chief constable of Dumfries and Galloway, he took complete charge of the hunt for the culprits – a role that completely dominated the latter years of his police career and saw him visit 47 countries.

By now a detective chief superintendent, he worked closely with the FBI agent Richard Marquise, who was in charge of the United States’ task force. Henderson’s work earned him the MBE in the New Years honours of 1992 and he retired that same year after delivering a report to the Procurator Fiscal naming two men allegedly involved in the bombing, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and Al-amin Khalifa Fhimah.

The latter was acquitted after a trial in the Netherlands but Megrahi was ­convicted in 2001. In 2009, suffering from cancer, he was released from jail in Scotland on ­compassionate grounds, a move Henderson vehemently opposed. Both he and ­Marquise wrote to the then Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, urging him not to release the convicted mass murderer.

Henderson, who had marked the 10th and 25th anniversaries of the tragedy at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia where there is a red sandstone Lockerbie cairn memorial, felt it was a naive move and rejected any suggestion Megrahi had been framed as an insult to the police.

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