Saturday, 27 June 2009

Dr Swire's letter to the Lord Advocate

[What follows is the text of Dr Jim Swire's letter to the Lord Advocate, Elish Angiolini QC, mentioned in the Private Eye article posted on this blog yesterday.]

As I write, the second appeal is in progress in the High Court. Whilst not wishing to interfere with that process in any way, I would like to bring an associated, and to my mind very serious, issue to your attention.

In the early morning of 21 December 1988, there was a break-in at Heathrow airport, as discussed in the first appeal at Zeist. This break-in gave access to an unknown individual to ‘airside’, through a breech in the night security cordon in terminal 3. The first appeal court accepted that that was the case.

As I understand it the break-in point was close to the facility given over to Iran Air and to that of the baggage assembly shed, where baggage container AV4041 was part loaded on the evening of 21 December.

The evidence about this break-in had ‘disappeared’ for 12 years before Manly caused it to be raised.

This had the bizarre effect of meaning that during the trial, Luqa airport Malta was alone put forward as the airport of origin for the ingestion of the IED, though there was total absence of evidence as to how Megrahi was supposed to have breached security there. A lacuna which their Lordships described as a serious difficulty for the Crown case.

Yet during the trial Heathrow airport lacked sufficient supporting evidence to be considered as the point of ingestion in the main trial, since the break-in was unknown to their Lordships.

By the time the evidence about Heathrow did surface, the verdict had been reached, and the defence had long abandoned their ‘incrimination’.

Once the appellant in the current appeal had been found guilty, it became immediately justifiable to deny him the ‘presumption of innocence’, to which accused but untried people are entitled. Indeed, ever since the verdict he has been described of course either as ‘the Lockerbie bomber’ or ‘the man found guilty of the Lockerbie bombing’. From this different world of presumed guilt, it is difficult to imagine a scenario suggesting that his proven movements and his use of false passports etc bore no relation to the Lockerbie disaster.

Now the information about this break-in was simply not available to the trial court nor the defence in the main trial at Zeist, only becoming known in time for the first appeal, where it was examined against the background of ‘proven guilt’ and did not of course cause the verdict to be overturned.

It seems quite extraordinary that this information was not available sooner to the trial nor to our Fatal Accident Inquiry in 1990.

If the defence in the main trial had known of it, they might well have pursued their defence of ‘incrimination’ with a great deal more determination than they did in fact show.

The reason for that speculation is that they were to have promoted the use of a (Syrian based) PFLP-GC IED. These devices were specifically designed for introduction into an airport well in advance of their use, being stable indefinitely at ground level. On the other hand if placed within the fuselage of an airliner they were designed to explode around 40 minutes after take-off without any intervention being required at any point, other than their placement within the aircraft. As I’m sure you know, the Lockerbie flight lasted for 38 minutes

Thus the break-in situation at Heathrow with a plane exploding 38 minutes after taking off from there, was a textbook description of how the PFLP-GC devices were designed to work, as had been explained to the main trial court by Herr Gobel of the West German forensic service. Hence it would have been a huge encouragement to the defence incrimination hypothesis.

Evidence was led in the first appeal that the Heathrow guard (the late Mr Manly) who gave this information to the defence after the verdict had been passed had been interviewed by both the Met’s anti-terrorism branch and the police, and had entered the details of his discovery in the Heathrow night security log immediately.

It is therefore very difficult to see how the Crown Office could have been in ignorance of it.

In his remarks to the first appeal court, concerning the break-in evidence, Mr Taylor (for Megrahi’s defence) said:
(from transcripts Pages 11085/6)

'No production or statement was made available
to or discovered by the Defence in the course of the
preparation for this trial gave any notice of the
existence of Mr. Manly or the evidence which it turns
out he is able to give. There was no reasonable basis,
in my submission, for the Defence anticipating that it
would turn out that there had been a breach of security
at the baggage build-up area at Heathrow Airport.

'The circumstances of this case are rather
special. The Defence was informed by the Crown that
14,000 witness statements had been taken in the course
of its inquiry. Defence preparations began more than
10 years after the event. The police had fully
investigated matters at Heathrow in the immediate
aftermath of the disaster. The Crown had prepared for
and conducted a Fatal Accident Inquiry in 1990. The
Defence were heavily dependent on the assistance from
the Crown in preparing for trial.

'The Crown had indicated at an early stage
that it would approach the issue of disclosure in
accordance with the principles laid down by Your
Lordships' court in the case of McLeod and that if
possible it would go further than McLeod to assist the

'Since it can be taken that the Crown with all
its resources and access to information did not uncover
this evidence in preparing for trial, it would seem
that it would be unreasonable to expect that the
Defence would have guessed that such evidence might
exist and to discover witnesses who were unknown to it.'

Mr Taylor made the assumption that the Crown knew nothing of this matter. On the other hand partial or non-disclosure of relevant material to the defence by the Crown was one of the referral reasons given by the SCCRC as to why there might have been a miscarriage of justice in this case.

For the moment we must avoid harming the appeal process, but there seems no reason why a search should not be made of the copious documents in possession of the Crown to see whether they did in fact have evidence of this break-in. If they have, we need an explanation of why they did not pass it to the defence; if there is no record of them having heard of this evidence then an explanation for that should be sought..

The effect of the absence of the information about the Heathrow break-in was not confined to the Zeist trial. In 1990 (the late) Sheriff Principal John Mowat told our Fatal Accident Inquiry that it must assume that the device had ‘come from Frankfurt’. No mention could be made of the situation at Heathrow, for that was hidden from that court.

I was one of only two relatives who decided to represent himself at the FAI. I did this because I was not satisfied with what I saw as the failure by lawyers representing the relatives to call witnesses and lead evidence requested by us, their clients. I was not alone in this, there was widespread distress among us about this.

During my contribution to the court, I concentrated upon the responsibility of Heathrow to examine hold baggage using the latest technology, but was denied the opportunity to return to the question of Heathrow security, by the Sheriff Principal on the grounds that that had already been covered by our ‘professional representatives’.

Had I known about the break-in, my submissions would have been almost exclusively about Heathrow perimeter security, terminal three night security in particular, and their amazing failure to close the airport pending discovery of who had broken in.

Thus the content of that court was misdirected (inadvertently, since Mowat presumably did not know about the break-in either).

Since I believe that had Heathrow behaved responsibly in the face of this break-in, at a time of heightened terrorist warnings, then my daughter might still be alive, the issue seems crucial to the ability of the FAI to determine accurately what factors contributed to the deaths.

Please will you urgently consider discovery of what, if anything, the Crown Office knew about the Heathrow break-in, and also the question of whether the Fatal Accident Inquiry should be reconvened, in view of this compromising of its purpose to discover all the factors contributing to the deaths. I do not see why this part of the issues raised herein cannot be urgently addressed, appeal or no appeal.


    15th International Conference

    on page 4 of 12

    This is best answered by looking at the evidence. During the painstaking search of a vast area of land police officers were asked to look out for items which might be charred and which might indicate that they had been close to an explosion.
    On IP January 1989 in search sector 1, near Newcastleton, two police officers Thomas Gilchrist and Thomas McColm found a fragment of charred clothing. It was subsequently sent to the Forensic Explosives Laboratory at Fort Halstead in Kent for forensic examination.

    It was examined there on 12th of May 1989 by Dr Thomas Hayes. He teased out the cloth and found within it fragments of paper, fragments of black plastic and a piece of circuitry no larger than a fingernail. The cloth was found to be part of a grey slalom shirt - one of a number of items linked back to a little shop of Mary's House in Malta and the shopkeeper Tony Gauci.

    The mesh fragments were found to be consistent with the loudspeaker grille and the black plastic fragments consistent with the composition of the case of the Toshiba radio cassette. It had already been identified by other fragments of circuit board and from the fragment of the instruction manual which had been found the day after the crash by Mrs Gwendoline Horton in her garden at Longhorsely in Northumberland in north east England. The paper recovered from the charred cloth by Dr Hayes also matched a control sample of this owner's manual.

    MEBO addendum: The debris delivered to RARDE were listed by Dr. Hayes on the EXAMINATION page No.51 on the 12th of May 1989. Together with a remnant of a grey "Slalom" T-shirt and other debris from a Toshiba radio cassette recorder PT-35 (B) an unknown "fragment of a green coloured circuit board" was registered and depictured (photo no.100, label PI-995, PP' 8932).

    The red encircled fragment shows the MST-13 circuit board designated as PT-35 (b). The first evidence photography No.100 shows the circuit board in the original condition, before forensic sawing into two parts. The fragment comes from a MEBO prototype timer MST-13 circuit board and is designated with a in-scratched, well visible letter; "M" on it.

    This fragment, was as can be proved, not green coloured, but brown! The delivered MST-13 timer to Libya were equipped with green circuit boards.

    To implicate Libya and its official Mr. Abdelbaset Al Megrahi into the PanAm 103 bombing a green fragment was needed! This is the reason why instead of the brown original MST-13 fragment a green MST-13 duplicate was fabricated and used as evidence by the prosecution at the court in Kamp van Zeist!

    The second part of the Appeal, starting on the 7th of July 2009, is easy to win for Megrahi's defense team. Simply the green falsified duplicate MST-13 fragment, designation PT-35 (B) without the in-scratched letter "M" must be compared with the evidence photo
    No.100, Prod. label PI-995, PP' 8932, and everything is clear!
    (Photo No. 100 and the MST-13 fragment PT-35 (b), are kept in court archives)

    Thus Dr. Hayes and his backers can finally be indicted as counterfeiters of evidence in a heavy crime …

    Please see the crucial manipulation of the EXAMINATION report, Page 51 and Prod. photo no.100, from Dr. Hayes, RARDE
    Ref. PP-8932, PI/995 on our webpage:

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Switzerland

  2. What I expect will happen is that the secret services will go through the prosecution evidence and remove anything sensitive related to the Heathrow break in so the Lord Advocate can give a negative reply.

  3. Dear Ruth,
    ok, at the gate Room 3 in Heathrow was broken in, but no proofs lay for, whether a Bomb Bag were put into, or a bag was exchanged. Thus the incident is not of importance, legally negligibly.
    by Edwin Bollier

  4. Ebol,
    I disagree. The importance is immense. The prosecution is under a duty to provide all disclosure to the defence that will weaken the prosecution's case.

    If they had it, why didn't they disclose it?

    In my experience of government sensitive trials failing to disclose is a key element. The actions of the judges, the crown and sadly even the defence are carefully synchronised so that not one of them can be held responsible for manipulating trials.

  5. While I pointed out to the PM's office in 1996, (in response to John Major's claim to the House that the investigation was was "open") that the Police had made a colossal blunder in "eliminating" Heathrow I was not aware of the "break-in".

    I do not know the significance of the "break-in" and Herr Bollier is correct that there is no evidence that a suitcase was introduced. However Ruth is absolutely right to say that it is a matter of immense importance.

    The Police had "eliminated" Heathrow in three weeks despite knowing that a bag similar to the primary suitcase had been introduced in AVE4041 and knowing there had been a serious security breech on the morning of the bombing.

    When I was a Policeman a deadbeat Chief Inspector told me "it is not what you can do, it is what you can bat away."

    To recognise that the bomb had been introduced at Heathrow would have had profound repercussions. The Metropolitan Police would have taken over the case, despite the major crime scene being in Scotland, and any prosecution would have been brought in England under English law despite eleven of the victims having been Scottish residents. The Lord Advocate had demanded jurisdiction over the case.

    It seems to me blindingly obvious that the decision to "eliminate" Heathrow" was not arrived at on strictly evidential grounds.

  6. Bollier please shut up I'm sick of reading the same posts over and over. You will never assuage your guilt over Megrahi's conviction. You started it with your fake letter to the CIA blaming Libya just to get MONEY. So please repent in silence.