Monday 21 December 2009

Fr Keegan's remarks are NOT being delivered at Arlington memorial service

This is the subject heading (incidentally misspelling Pat Keegans's name) of an e-mail sent by Frank Duggan. The text reads:

"Fr Keegan's remarks, as printed in [The Herald] newspaper, were deemed to be very inappropriate for this memorial service. It is a day to remember 270 innocent souls murdered in an act of state sponsored terrorism. It is not a day for politics, a discussion of the bomber's trial and conviction or of his health. Fr Keegan's views are his own and are quite contrary to those held by the victims families in the US. It is unfortunate that he has chosen this day to publicly express those views in the press.
Frank Duggan, President
Victims of Pan Am 103, Inc.

Now that Canon Keegans's address has been barred from the Arlington service, I am reproducing the full text of it here:

They were lovely children, Paul and Lyndsey and Joanne. Lyndsey (10) and her brother Paul (13) called at my house in Sherwood Crescent, Lockerbie, delivering Christmas cards for the Scouts and Guides. It was December 19th 1988. Just a few days to Christmas and they were telling me about presents under the tree, grandparents coming to visit, and as they left they said, “See you on Christmas Day, Father”. I never saw them again. At 7.04pm on December 21st 1988 they died. Their parents died. Their friend Joanne (10) and her parents also died. Pan Am 103 had exploded in Sherwood Crescent. Eleven people died in Sherwood Crescent. 259 people died on the plane. This was an odious act of terror and the murder of 270 innocent men, women and children.

I celebrated Requiem Mass for Joanne on January 10th 1989. Her parents were never found. Paul and Lyndsey were never found but the remains of their parents, Jack and Rosaleen, were found and as their coffins lay side by side in the church I thought of how they would have looked as they stood side by side on their wedding day.

We might imagine that a disaster happens and then people start a process of recovery; not a bit of it. Things get worse. It is like the mushroom cloud of a nuclear explosion and the fall-out never seems to end. As you, the families from America, the UK and many other countries arrived in Lockerbie our grief and our sorrow for you could not be expressed in words but were clearly visible in our eyes. One look at us and was enough to tell you how deeply we felt for you.

In the mayhem and horror of Lockerbie I asked myself who would commit such a heinous crime and for what reason. I and many others were acutely aware of a bombing that had taken place earlier that year on July 3rd 1988 when in the Persian Gulf an Iranian civilian aircraft flight IR655 was blown out of the sky by the American warship USS Vincennes. 290 civilians died; 16 of the dead were children. The fact that this happened and that Iran was the main focus of the criminal investigation did not affect the response made by the people of Lockerbie; American families together with all other nationalities received un-questioning, total compassion and care. The whole of Scotland should be proud of the people of Lockerbie. The compassion they showed has passed the test of time and will never be withdrawn.

21 years have passed and this year has been a very difficult and controversial one. The Cabinet Minister of Justice in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Kenny MacAskill, made a decision to release on compassionate grounds Abdelbasset al-Megrahi. I hold that it was the right decision to make and it took great courage. The doubts concerning the conviction, the evidence and the reliability of witnesses have been well documented and led to an appeal.

I know that this is not the view generally held within the United States of America; however it a belief held by me and many others in Scotland who have been closely and personally involved since that dark day of December 21st 1988. I do believe that he is an innocent man and that in time the truth of that will emerge. But he was not released because of doubt concerning his conviction. He was released on strict legal grounds and because of the important element of Christian compassion which has influenced the legal systems of Scotland and Europe.

In my letter of August 28th of this year 2009 which I sent to all the American Families of Pan Am Flight 103 I included the words of Archbishop Mario Conti of the Archdiocese of Glasgow

In The Herald newspaper he wrote:

“I personally and many others in the Catholic community admired the decision to release Abdelbaset al-Megrahi on grounds of compassion which is, after all, one of the principles inscribed on the mace of the Scottish Parliament by which Scotland’s Government should operate. The showing of mercy in any situation is not a sign of weakness. Indeed in this situation, with the pressures and circumstances of the case, it seemed to me a sign of manifest strength.

"Despite contrary voices I believe it is a decision which will be a source of satisfaction for many Scots and one which will be respected in the international community. I have been impressed by the expressions of understanding and insight from Dr Jim Swire and other relatives who lost loved ones on the Pan Am flight who have acknowledged the rightness of the gesture of compassion and their doubts as to the safety of the original conviction.

"I would welcome any move which would try to find clearer answers as to what happened and why”.
Archbishop Mario Conti, 24th August 2009, Glasgow, Scotland

In my letter of August 28th to all the families of Pan Am Flight 103, I expressed my own satisfaction at the decision reached by Mr Kenny MacKaskill. At the same time I stated very strongly that my satisfaction is not in-compatible with the affection, compassion and support that I have consistently offered to you for many years; I have had the honour of sharing in your lives and have in turn received from you great friendship, love and support. In my letter I concluded by saying that whatever lies ahead in the years to come that my love, support and affection would always be there for you.

I want to say very clearly that I believe, irrespective of guilt or innocence, the release of Abdelbasset al-Megrahi on the grounds of compassion was the right decision. My life and my thinking and response to people and situations have been formed by Christ and his His gospel; so, I must try to have the gospel at the heart of all my decisions great and small in this life. On the first anniversary I said that we should live our lives joyfully because that is how those who have died would want us to live.

In 21 years we have made great progress. However, if I keep bitterness, anger, hatred and a desire for revenge in my heart I would find it difficult to live my life joyfully. Getting rid of bitterness, anger, hatred and a desire for revenge in my heart is beyond me. I cannot do it by myself as a human being. Only God can give that gift. It is a divine gift and it takes an enormous effort even to reach out to accept that gift; but if we do so we find great peace. The words of Christ that lead to that gift are very challenging. He says to us: “You have learnt how it was said you must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: Love your enemies and pray for those who hate you.” (Matthew 5, 43) “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” (Matthew 6,13) “Blessed are the merciful, they shall have mercy shown them”. (Matthew 5, 7) Easy to read, but difficult to live. And from St Paul: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”. (Rom. 12: 21)

Today and the years ahead; I started by reflecting on the lovely children who died in Sherwood Crescent on the night of December 21st 1988. You will be thinking of your own child, husband, wife, father, mother, relative or friend who died at the same time as Paul and Lyndsey and Joanne. They deserve the best from us. They deserve justice. They deserve that we as human beings on this earth do all that we can to promote justice, peace and goodwill. On this 21st anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 I thank you for asking me to speak today; I offer you my prayers and my love. And I pray that all of us will be instruments of peace in this world and that we remember the words of St Paul: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good”. (Rom. 12: 21)

Patrick Keegans


  1. In my alternative theory it wouldn't be unexpected for Mr Megrahi to have a Swiss bank account. As a Libyan businessman give the highly profitable task of sourcing material denied by US sanctions to his country he worked with MEBO, which had long standing commercial relations with Libya. Mr Bollier may be able to enlighten us on this, much, much more. He will know what I mean when I say RNI.

    The Swiss would probably not want to negotiate a Libyan bank cheque and would have been happier with a cheque drawn on UBS, Credit Suisse or whoever. So to be an effective businessman, Mr Megrahi had to have a Swiss bank account.

    When Mr Megrahi purchased a highly desirable part, say, to keep Libya's ageing air fleet flying, not necessarily from MEBO, as he must have had other suppliers, he would purchase it on the grey market and arrange for it to be sent to Libya.

    It must have been a profitable trade. He had a nice compound in Tripoli - wait for it Murdoch fans - satellite TV and on one occasion poor Mr Bollier was sent up on the roof to set it up. Mr Bollier certainly suffered in his profitable trade with the country. And they weren't the best of payers; he seems to have spent as much time on debt collecting missions as trade.

    That of course would tell anyone who would think that the story that Mr Giaka gave that he saw Mr Megrahi constructing a bomb, must be a lie; Mr Megrahi had about as much technical knowledge as a man with an Argos catalogue. More could have been made of that point at the trial, but Mr Megrahi's counsel was so very, very poor, and his second no better.

    And to run his business, Mr Megrahi sublet an office in Zurich. Where no better than Bollier and Meister's offices. You can almost see the neatly drawn up invoice presented to him on the 1st of each month.

    Now a little more background. The Americans (for want of a better word) hated Libya. When the Colonel staged his putsch - whatever the rhetoric, the Libyan revolution was no more than a army coup by a junior officer - the Colonel's advisers quickly saw that the British and American were bleeding the country dry and selling at a vast price oil from the ground, Libya was getting almost nothing for.

    OK, the regime got nice baubles, but they were piddling compared to the oil company profits. So he proposed new terms 50/50. The oil companies were appalled but and at first would not deal. Eventually from such earthquakes as the 1973 oil crisis (remember that) Libyan terms became industry standard. Armand Hamer signed a deal and the funds began to roll.

    Libya was by no means the most despotic, backward or traditional of the oil states and, for example, the Sennussian ideology rejected the austerely Saudi Arabian Wahhabist doctrines, and the spoils were shared more equally. Gadafy could enjoy his passion for world revolution (based on the premiss that his own had been a genuine revolution, which it had not) and sufficient money was put to general use to lift the populace out of grinding poverty, with all the benefits that brings such as a burgeoning and ever-demanding populace.

    A Green Book and world revolution to the Colonel, a refrigerator and health care to the general.

  2. The Americans were annoyed and could not see that in his own terms, the Colonel was just a Libyan patriot. He must necessarily sign up to American ideals (or those ideals that is considered proper for American sponsored foreigners to have), which involves, crowns, elections, treaties and the like, but no power where US commercial interests are concerned.

    Mr Cannistraro seems to have become head of the anti-Libyan lobby in the CIA, and his policies were to get rid of the Colonel.

    Thus I find it odd that it was the French, notably Bruguière who had the Eksund arrested. The Eksund was taking Libyan provided Semtex to Ireland, and the CIA would not interfere in the perfectly legal means of the groups in the Province to remove the illegitimate, colonial, imperialist regime that the British had left behind there.

    Odd that the USA's closest and best ally was running a terror regime in the North of Ireland. It never best to get into perceptions of the US public.

    That points to the CIA's inability to understand the meaning of revolution, as much as the Colonel's. For the American Revolution think Peasant's Revolt and 3000 miles of water separating the rulers and the ruled. What the Americans wanted was only their rights as freeborn Englishmen, which the wicked London Government was trying to tax away! It always comes down to money, in the end.

    So NORAID was indulged and allowed to run its murderous terrorist policies in the name of Ireland, where few Americans had gone and fewer understood, to secure the freedom of an unwanted corner of the UK, London Governments did not want. Churchill had wanted to give the Province to de Valera, but that unprincipled, puritanical, misty-eyed, backward looking, unimaginative Robespierre, could not grasp the deal, which was for a lease on an airport to help inadequately ranged US bombers cross the Atlantic.

    So until the US discovered that terrorism killed Americans too, NORAID was sacrosanct; and still is to some extent. There have been no show trials of its members and they have not been banged up in Guantanamo. They could have been.

    But the CIA had free range to develop anti-Libyan policy. Perhaps someone will write a history of the war conducted by two men, both misguided patriots, the Colonel and Cannistraro. They deserve each other, and we have to pick up the consequences.

    Poor Mr Megrahi just put himself in the position of looking over the parapet and fell into one of Mr C's plots.

  3. Charles, thank you for your interesting commentary. BY RNI, I assume you mean the priate redio station Radio Northsea International which Mr Bollier used to own and which he later sold to Libya - why not say so in your posting? It is generally not a good idea to play I-know-more-than-you in blogs: it's what helped dupe gullible journos such as Leppard in the frst place. The Spooks said : trust us, it was Libya (forefinger tapping the side of the nose).

  4. I have never met David Leppard although a was a source for his 1993 Tory Party funding stories (when the story was published the guts of the story, a billion dollar fraud behind the takeover of the Midland Bank was expunged) which taught me a lesson about dealing with the press.

    However, if you have an interest in Lockerbie, I would highly recommend Leppard's 1991 book "On the Trail of Terror" which to me is above all a record of where the Criminal investigation went wrong. It details the increasingly acrimonious dispute between the Scottish Police and the German authorities (resolved only by the discovery of the evidence of a "rogue suitcase".
    Above all it tells you where the primary suitcase was introduced (although Leppard himself doesn't see it!)

  5. Leppard's book is only one of several full-length books on the Lockerbie case. It contains much good information, but has, like all books on the subject, many failings such as his hysterical praise for Alan Feraday and other police and spook insiders. With any source in the literature, it is vital to understand and evaluate where the infomration is coming from and what is the particular bias of the writer. It seems to me that Leppard has always been far too reliant on information coming from inside the investigation and is, at least in this book and in his other articles about Lockerbie, much too keen on accepting the line peddled by the security and intelligence services. Personally, I would advise anyone interested in this case not to read Leppard's book in isolation, but to read other major books such as Emmerson and Duffy, David Johnston, Ashton and Ferguson, Goddard and Coleman, and Paul Foot's Private Eye Special on Lockerbie. There are,of course, others, but those above cover the main theories and arguments.

  6. Well yes, I agree absolutely.(I have had some interesting experience in relation to other Sunday Times hoaxes!) I do not share Leppard's judgements at all and indeed he rubbished the "German" claims that a "Khreesat" bomb must have been introduced at Heathrow. I know full well I am reading the "official" version.

    I thought your list of "recommended reading" was very narrow although David Johnston's book was very good.

    Ashton and Ferguson was very good on the trial and the provenance of the MST-13 timer. I thought they wasted a great deal of effort trying to prove what they grandly termed "the alternative version of events" which was a rehash of the fraudulent "drug conspiracy" section of "The Maltese Double Cross". I found most of the book an insult to my intelligence.

    Paul Foot again was very good in criticising the verdict but was also a "drug conspiracy theorist" and most stories in Private Eye made claims unsubstantiated by evidence.

    I thought Coleman and Goddard was a really good read. I just thought it had little to do with Lockerbie. Coleman claimed to have met Khalid Jafaar (he may have) and "put one and one together" and concluded Aviv's claims were true.

    I have read a lot more widely than this in relation to "Iran-Contra", the Beirut Hostage Crisis and the "MIA issue". Apart from being a former Detective Inspector I have a degree in Modern History and International Relations. (My own articles at "The Masonic Verses" are sourced).

    I would highly recommend Geoff Symons' "Libya and the West" or anything he has written for the Centre for Libyan Studies.

    I found Mathir Kalil and Robert Thabit's scholarly work "Libya and Lockerbie a Study in International Relations" essential reading.

    Finally I would recommend Gavin Hewitt's "Terry Waite, Why Was He Kidnapped" in which I believe the word "Lockerbie" is mentioned once. It gave me tremendous insight.

    There are of course many TV programmes and documentaries of relevance. Indeed one is an actual "smoking gun"!

    Anyway good reading Happy Christmas!