Friday 26 June 2009

Alan Feraday and Wikipedia

[I am grateful to Patrick Haseldine for supplying me with this copy of his Wikipedia article on Alan Feraday. The article has now, for some reason, been removed from the Wikipedia website.]

Alan Feraday is the retired former head of the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment (RARDE) forensic explosives laboratory at Fort Halstead in Kent.

After RARDE was subsumed into the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) in 1995, the laboratory came under media and scientific scrutiny in 1996 amid allegations that contaminated equipment had been used in the testing of forensic evidence.[1]

• 1 Expert witness
• 2 Danny McNamee
• 3 John Berry
• 4 Hassan Assali
• 5 Lockerbie trial
• 6 References
• 7 External links

Expert witness
Alan Feraday has appeared as an expert witness at criminal trials leading to convictions in at least four high-profile cases, three of which were subsequently overturned on appeal.[2] The appeal in the fourth case is ongoing.

Feraday's involvement in a number of other criminal cases was the subject of a parliamentary question in 1996.[3]

Danny McNamee
Feraday was the Crown's main scientific witness in the McNamee case which concerned a terrorist bomb explosion in London's Hyde Park in 1982. McNamee's fingerprint was alleged to have been on a printed circuit board that had been discovered in an IRA arms cache. Feraday testified that a PCB fragment said to have been found at the scene of the Hyde Park bombing, but which had not been forensically tested for explosive residues, came from the same type of circuit board in the arms cache. McNamee, who was convicted in 1987 largely as a result of Feraday's evidence, successfully appealed against his conviction in December 1998.[4]

John Berry
Another case in which Feraday appeared as an expert witness was the 1983 prosecution of businessman John Berry, who was convicted of terrorism conspiracy charges. At the trial, Feraday testified that the timers Berry had sold in the Middle East had been designed specifically for terrorist purposes. Berry spent ten years in jail before his conviction was overturned in September 1993, when four highly qualified witnesses ridiculed the evidence that Feraday had given at the trial.

Commenting on the case, Lord Justice Taylor declared that the nature of Feraday's evidence was "dogmatic in the extreme" and that in future he should not be allowed to present himself as an expert in the field of electronics. In a recent development the Home Office has agreed to pay compensation from the public purse to Berry because he was jailed on the erroneous evidence of Feraday.[5]

Hassan Assali
Libyan national, Hassan Assali, came to Britain in 1965. In 1985, Assali was convicted of constructing electronic timers in contravention of the 1883 Explosives Substances Act on the basis of Feraday's testimony that the timing devices were designed specifically for the triggering of IEDs. Assali's appeal against conviction was rejected in 1986. He applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission in 1998 to review his case and, following a second appeal when other electronics experts disputed the trial evidence given by Feraday, Assali's conviction was quashed in 2005.[6]

Lockerbie trial
Both Alan Feraday and his RARDE colleague, Dr Thomas Hayes, gave expert witness evidence at the Lockerbie trial in 2000. Feraday testified that Pan Am Flight 103 was brought down on 21 December 1988 by a suitcase bomb triggered by an electronic timer made by the Swiss firm Mebo.[7] From a piece of charred clothing allegedly found at the scene of the crash in January 1989, Hayes teased out a tiny piece of timer circuit board in May 1989. The timer fragment was photographed at RARDE but was not tested for explosive residues. Feraday took the timer fragment to the FBI laboratory in the United States where Thomas Thurman was able to confirm that it had come from the Mebo MST-13 timer, twenty of which had been supplied to Libya. The clothing and the timer fragment led to the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi at the trial, and to his sentence of 27 years' imprisonment in Scotland. Megrahi's appeal against conviction was rejected in 2002 but he applied in 2003 to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission to review the case.[8]

On 28 June 2007, the SCCRC referred Megrahi's case back for another appeal on the basis that he may have suffered a miscarriage of justice.[9]

The second appeal started at the High Court of Justiciary on 28 April 2009.[10] A documentary film "Lockerbie revisited", which was broadcast on Dutch television on 27 April 2009, focused on the Mebo timer fragment evidence and Feraday's role in its identification.

1. ^ Robert Verkaik (1996-05-22). "Innocent beyond doubt". The Independent.
2. ^ "'Doubts' over Lockerbie evidence". BBC News. 2005-08-19. Retrieved on 2009-05-14.
3. ^ "PQ on the Caddy Inquiry". 1996-12-09.
4. ^ "The Case of Danny McNamee". Retrieved on 2009-05-13.
5. ^ Ludwig de Braekeleer. "Alan Feraday and the evidence of the Lockerbie trial". Canada Free Press. Retrieved on 2009-05-14.
6. ^ "Commission refers conviction of Mr Hassan Assali to Court of Appeal". 2003-04-19. Retrieved on 2009-05-13.
7. ^ "Lockerbie bomb 'in suitcase'". BBC News. 2000-06-15. Retrieved on 2009-05-13.
8. ^ Lucy Christie (2005-08-19). "Lockerbie terror bomber's conviction thrown into doubt". Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved on 2009-05-13.
9. ^ Laura Blue. "Re-Opening the Lockerbie Tragedy". TIME.,8599,1639065,00.html. Retrieved on 2009-05-13.
10. ^ Jason Allardyce; Mark Macaskill (2009-05-10). "Lockerbie bomber Megrahi may be allowed home". timesonline. Retrieved on 2009-05-13.

External links
"Police investigations of 'politically sensitive' or high profile crimes", Report on the Lockerbie investigation by former Lord Advocate Colin Boyd
"Lockerbie revisited", Dutch television documentary by Gideon Levy


  1. When the ultimate history of the Lockerbie tragedy, and its travesty of a criminal investigation, comes to be written, Mr Alan Feraday RARDE (UK) must feature prominently.

    Other major players in this "miscarriage of justice" include, but are not limited to:
    *Mr Edwin Bollier, Mebo
    *Mr Pik Botha, SA Foreign Minister
    *Lord Colin Boyd, former Lord Advocate
    *Mr Vincent Cannistraro, CIA
    *Dr Thomas Hayes, RARDE (UK)
    *Mr Richard Marquise, FBI
    *Mr Erwin Meister, Mebo
    *Lt-Col Oliver North, Iran/Contra
    *Mr Oliver 'Buck' Revell, FBI and
    *Mr Thomas Thurman, FBI

  2. I would also add the three judges whose decision appears political rather than just