Monday 21 January 2013

Scotland must finally deliver real justice

[What follows is a review in today’s edition of The Scotsman by Joyce McMillan of a performance of the play The Lockerbie Bomber at Alloa’s Alman Theatre:]

“The Lockerbie Bomber” - The Alman, Alloa
* * *
The quotation marks around the title are significant, for like many who have investigated the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the writer of this powerful new play does not believe that the late Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the only man convicted following the bombing, was guilty as charged.

Although the characters are fictional – two bereaved parents, two journalists, a CIA man, an MI5 man – the play is as well-researched as any documentary about this case and even more disturbing in its impact.

If Kenneth H Ross’s treatment of the material has a flaw, it lies in his melodramatic account of the fate of one of the journalists working on the story at the time of Megrahi’s death. There is a torture scene involving the woman journalist, in which the CIA man, played with intensity and presence by Brian Paterson, dwindles from an interesting portrait of manipulative power into a caricature of a full-blown psychopath.

Elsewhere, though, the structure of the play is powerful and persuasive, as Ross traces how the unanswered questions about Lockerbie, and the subsequent trial, continue to haunt Scottish society. The acting is impressive and heartfelt, and there is a clever set, placing two pairs of burned-out airline seats against a backdrop of the Scottish Parliament lobby.

In the end, it’s the tragedy of the terrible loss of life at Lockerbie that seems to drive Ross’s important and passionate play. That, and the sense that Scotland must finally deliver real justice to the bereaved, or carry scars deep in its body politic that will damage our national life for generations to come.


  1. MISSION LOCKERBIE, 2013, (google translation, german/english):

    'Lex Lockerbie':
    The ping-pong game between the "Lockerbie Drama" and the "Lockerbie Affair" steer to a Scottish Judicial Scandal, which United Kingdom will bring great reputational and reparations damage. What is this for a Parliament, which shuns the light of truth through a public after-investigation in the "Lockerbie Case" ?
    There is no legally prescribed in Scotland for truth ? "It is error alone which needs the support of the Scottish Government in the "Lockerbie Case" ? Truth can stand by itself ?
    It would be imperative that the intentionally made contradictions and manipulated circumstantial evidence to instruct by technically competent, and politically and finaziell unprejudiced experts, upon to provide a consistent picture with the latest findings and evidence.

    same text in German language:

    'Lex Lockerbie':
    Das Ping Pong Spiel zwischen dem "Lockerbie Drama" und der "Lockerbie Affäre" steuert einem Schottischen Justiz-Skandal zu, welcher United Kingdom grossen Reputations- und Reparations-Schaden bringen wird. Was ist das für ein Parliament, die das Licht der Wahrheit durch eine öffentliche Nach-ersuchung im "Lockerbie-Fall" scheut ?
    Gibt es in Scotland keine gesetzlich verordnete Wahrheit ? "It is error alone which needs the support of the Scottish Government in the "Lockerbie Case ? Truth can stand by itself" ?
    Es wäre dringend geboten die vorsätzlich gemachten Widersprüche und die manipulierten Indizien-Beweise, durch fachlich kompetentes, sowie politisch und finaziell unbefangenes Expertenteam damit zu beauftragen, ein konsistentes Bild mit den neusten Erkenntnissen und Beweisen zu erarbeiten.

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Switzerland. URL:

  2. That's a good review from someone in the British media, pity about their exponentially dwindling relevance in Scotland.

    McMillan objects to the torture scene, but I suspect that anyone who has been tortured by the CIA is rather unlikely to see his tormentor as 'an interesting portrait of manipulative power'. Sorry Joyce, that's what they do.

    Still, I'd agree with her that the play would be stronger without the torture scene. The corrupting influences on mainstream journalism are more devious than breaking fingers. You can be successful and famous and wealthy if you will only repeat what we tell you! Think Andrew Marr.

    I love Malta and Gozo - we go back a long way - and I will buy a plane ticket if the play is to be performed there. Any excuse to swim at Dwejra again.