Thursday, 15 March 2012

An overview of the Lockerbie case

[This is the headline over an article by Dr Morag Kerr, deputy secretary of the Justice for Megrahi campaign group, published in today’s edition of the Scottish Review.  This article sets out, in short compass but in stark detail, the flaws in the Crown case against Abdelbaset Megrahi. It demonstrates clearly not only that he was wrongly convicted but also that the Crown version of events is simply and irrefutably unsustainable and that the Crown’s conduct fell far short of what is required and expected of an honourable prosecutor. The article must be read in full. Dr Kerr’s conclusion is as follows:]

The weight of evidence that the Lockerbie bomb was introduced at Heathrow (...) is absolutely compelling. In contrast the evidence that the bomb transited from Malta through Frankfurt is beyond tenuous. In addition, no dispassionate examination of Tony Gauci's various and varied statements can possibly lead to the conclusion that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi bought the clothes in the bomb suitcase. Bearing in mind that Megrahi was verifiably in Tripoli at 4pm on 21st December 1988, the time John Bedford took his tea break, some might reasonably observe that he has an alibi. It was his misfortune to be at the other end of the blind alley the investigators pursued to Malta, looking just suspicious enough and with the right contacts to have a wholly inferential case constructed against him.


  1. Dr Morag Kerr: this piece is absolutely superb.

  2. "The evidence the bomb was introduced at Heathrow was absolutely compelling". I thought this from an intelligent reading of David Leppard's book.

    I did point this out in 1996 to the Crown Office and the PM (I had given up on the Dumfries and Galloway Police in August 1994.)

    Sir Teddy Taylor wrote on my behalf to the Meteropolitan Police in June 1996 who responded that this had been refuted "beyond doubt". (The key point being that it was the Met not the Scots who "eliminated" Heathrow).

    I also pointed out the same to Jim Swire, Robert Black, Tam Dalyell and Alastair Duff (but not Eddie McKechnie) long prior to the trial. I also pointed this out same to Paul Foot who nonetheless continued to peddle the "drug conspiracy" hoax as did others such as John Ashton & Ian Ferguson even after the trial. However I made no submission to the SCCRC.
    I thought this was a matter for his lawyers but I understand their researcher John Ashton made some allegations concerning Khalid Jafaar which the SCCRC found to be "without foundation" (and rightly so!)

    It is a shame that David Wolchover, who previously made such a fine effort in outlining the Heathrow evidence (see also my own modest effort (Lockerbie - The Heathrow Evidence at has made such as hash of his recent paper "Culprits of Lockerbie: Gaddagi or the Extremists of Palestine" which actually proved the opposite of what he set out to prove - that "Abu Elias" was a real person and the "real" Lockerbie bomber.

  3. Funnily enough, when I was talking to another poster here after John Ashton's appearance on Wednesday, I remarked, "you know, Baz was the only one who spotted it from Leppard's book."

    It should have been obvious from the evidence at the FAI, but Mowatt had been told that the cops had conclusive evidence of the bomb transiting from Malta that they couldn't show him, and he believed them. I see no evidence that anyone specifically noticed the point about Bedford's evidence at the time, though Jim Swire did submit that Heathrow needed to be looked at more seriously.

    It's certainly there in Leppard's book, though again I see no evidence of anyone but Baz spotting it before the trial. I've always found Baz's explanation hard to follow though, and he never sems to deviate from the same set of words, and it was really only when I read Leppard for myself that I then saw what he meant.

    To be fair to Paul Foot, he seems to have ditched the Frankfurt theory as soon as he became aware of the Heathrow evidence at the trial. (Which may suggest that he also didn't really understand what Baz meant, but then realised when he heard it put a different way.) As for the Frankfurt theory being a "hoax", if anyone was consciously hoaxing it would be Juval Aviv, and I don't have enough information to judge that. The other participants obviously believe they're right, even though I think they're wrong.

    It's interesting to note that the Met said they had eliminated Heathrow "beyond doubt". How? It wasn't by proving that nobody could have infiltrated the baggage area, because it was admitted they could have done, even without the break-in. It wasn't by proving that nobody could have added anything to that container, because obviously they could - it was left unattended and open twice. It wasn't by proving that only legitimate identified bags were in the container - nobody ever identified all the bags Bedford said he saw, and there appeared to be one extra over the count of known passenger luggage.

    I can only assume the Met were relying on the Indian Head and other tests which indicated the bomb bag wasn't on the bottom layer. Which hardly removes doubt. First, there were insufficient tests and insufficient replications to be certain the bomb bag wasn't on the bottom layer. Second, once you have conceded that the Heathrow luggage was rearranged, you clearly open the possibility that a Heathrow-origin bag ended up on the second layer at the position of the explosion.

    I wonder if this was really all about not wanting Heathrow, and the recently-privatised BAA, to take the rap for the worst terrorist outrage in a western country to date? I guess it was about more than that, but I keep coming back to that as a significant motivating factor in the British side of the investigation in the early months to first year of the inquiry.

  4. From my experience of CID the No1 priority is to see if you can dump your case on somebody else. I worked in a force with tiny geographical Divsions where cases were endlessly transferred, (usually on spurious grounds.)

    The decision to "eliminate" Heathrow was as much as anything a political decision. The Met were very busy with IRA terrorism and the primary Crime scene was North of the border. Would the Scottish Police have reported to the Met?

    A key consideration, at least for Lord Frasier was that people had died on the ground in Scotland. What if PA103 had gone down over the Atlantic?

    However who actually "eliminated" Heathrow? As I speculated before Orr (and Henderson) may never actually have gone to Heathrow!

    p.s. I suspect the second "Bedford bag" may have been a genuine Interline bag that arrived while Bedford was having his tea break.

    David wolchover's recent article featured a ludicrous section titled "Conjecture of Detail regarding a Heathrow ingestion." Of course we know that Bedrod's evidence was that Kamboj told him he had placed the two bags there. Later he denied saying this in his statement to the Police. However between these two incidents something significant happened - the plane blew up!

    Perhaps whoever placed the bags in AVE4041 didn't know one contained a bomb - perhaps something else that was to be retrieved at New York.

  5. Dr Morag refers to Megrahi's panicked interview with a journalist. (Another example, according to John Ashton's recent book of him bing let down bt Dr Legwell.) There is a classic quote from Megrahi "I did what I thought was best and lied".

    It is little known that the journalist Pierre Salinger had been a CIA officer. He worked for the legendary Theodore Shackley in Laos in the late sixties.

  6. That's an interesting point of view. I was speculating in the other direction - that the D&G didn't want to lose this case-of-a-lifetime to the stuck-up buggers in the Met. Might have suited both sides, of course. Wasn't there some story that Maggie wanted the D&G to deal with it? Why would that have been I wonder. To protect Heathrow?

    It beggars belief that any police force would deliberately turn a blind eye to evidence that could potentially track down the Lockerbie culprits, but you have to wonder. Wasn't it Orr who said on 30th December that the bomb almost certainly hadn't originated at Heathrow? Then Leppard, talking about developments in May, said that this (the Indian Head results?) completely eliminated Heathrow, which was just as well because Orr had "long since" stopped seriously considering Heathrow.

    My impression is that Heathrow had such poor security that just about anyone could have walked in there. Thus, when they started to try to find out where those mystery bags came from, they couldn't make any progress at all. So there was another big incentive to pretend they weren't important.

    I also think the second Bedford bag was one of the genuine interline bags, but I speculate that it might have been one of the ones Bedford had already placed at the back, moved by the terrorist to cover the last bit of the floor of the container, to minimise the chance of a loader just sliding the bomb suitcase to the right and inboard position. Is the damage to McKee's grey Samsonite consistent with it having been in that position?

    So you're speculating that Kamboj put the cases there, as an accomplice (possibly thinking they contained contraband), then later denied having said so because he realised they mist be connected to the crash? It's a possibility, but I've tended to characterise Kamboj as dim but honest, and if there were Iranair personnel around, would they have needed to suborn Kamboj?

    I also think that whoever put the case in the container knew it had a bomb in it. It doesn't matter where you place a suitcase of contraband. How do you explain to a dupe why a case of contraband not only has to go in the outboard position, but be placed a particular way round? Bear in mind the "trial loading" picture of the suitcase is wrong, if the case was laid flat. The explosion was so close to the skin of the plane that the radio had to have been packed along one side. Whoever placed the suitcase in the container would have had to know which way round to position it, as well as to place it outboard.

    My hunch is that Bedford saw the extra suitcase(s) and thought, "that's funny where did these come from?", but didn't do anything about it. Possibly because they both had the security bands round them that showed they had been x-rayed. Then when the plane fell out of the sky less than three hours later, he remembered. He felt he had to tell the police what he'd seen, but invented the story of having asked Kamboj about them to try to deflect accusations of negligence. We're speculating of course, but there are several plausible ways this could have happened.