Monday, 30 December 2013

Review of Morag Kerr's "splendid new book"

Baz, the author of The Masonic Verses blog (and a frequent commentator on this blog) has written a long review of Dr Morag Kerr’s Adequately Explained by Stupidity? Lockerbie, Luggage and Lies. The whole review merits close study.  What follows is the first six paragraphs:]

1.      Chapter 1 of Doctor Morag Kerr's splendid new book on the Lockerbie disaster Adequately Explained by Stupidity? is titled  "A Case About Cases".   True enough but it is essentially a Tale of Two Cases, to be precise two identical brown (or "antique bronze")  hard-sided Samsonite suitcases one of which contained the Improvised Explosive Device that destroyed flight PA103 over Scotland on the evening of the 21st December 1989 twenty-five years ago.

2.      One of these suitcases was very real.  The second did not exist at all outside the collective imaginations of the Police investigators notably Chief Superintendent John Orr, relevant lawyers at the Crown Office, perhaps even amongst members of the defence team and the three (or four) trial judges at all.

3.    The real one was placed within container AVE4041 in the Interline baggage shed at Heathrow before the feeder flight  PA103A arrived from Frankfurt.  It was placed at the bottom front left close to or in the actual position the bomb exploded.  Three witnesses saw it.  Who put it there? Well nobody ever put there hand up.

4. And the second imaginary suitcase?  Well Mr Megrahi was seen on Malta with a brown Samsonite but the evidence of that "witness" Majid Giaka was almost entirely discounted by the Trial Judges (or so they said.)   This imaginary suitcase was smuggled on board flight KM180 at Luqa Airport on the morning on the 21st December 1988 where by coincidence (or not) Megrahi was taking a flight home to Tripoli.   Security at Luqa was tight.  How was it smuggled onto the flight?  Nobody knows.  it was the Crown case that security was circumvented but they didn't even have a theory.

5.   At Frankfurt this imaginary bag was supposedly transferred to the feeder flight PA103A all the while it's timer ticking away.  How was this done?  Well all computerised records were lost but some sort of printout was retrieved which supposedly proved with a lot of mumbo jumbo about baggage trays coding stations and x-ray machines and the bag arrived in Heathrow where with a number of other bags from the feeder flight were placed in AVE4041 on the tarmac on top of several bags that were already within the container (including the real Samsonite.)  The loader then decided to rearrange the bags positioning this new brown Samsonite with another and moving the original brown Samsonite to "some far corner of the container."  Although the loader never actually said he did this.

6.       Doctor Kerr's fascinating book tells the quite remarkable story of how these two brown samsonites became switched.  The imaginary one became real blowing up in exactly the same position the real bag had occupied and the real bag became a phantom disappearing in a puff of smoke or a wormhole!  While there are similarities in the story to other great miscarriage of justice cases (a comparison with Ludovic Kennedy's classic on the Lindbergh case The Airman and the Carpenter springs to mind it's closest parallel is oddly  with the Hans Christian Anderson fable The [Emperor’s] New Clothes.


  1. And a splendid review too, Baz.

  2. Dear Baz,

    Having commented on what Prof Black posted, just skimmed your blog review.

    If one is looking at conspiracies here, I recall Joseph Muscat asking in a recent meeting: "Who stood to gain? Why the switch to Libya?", or something along those lines. As I have said before on this blog, I give no credence to the Gulf War guff. The simple facts are that some 80 to 90% of global trade is channeled along the planet's sea lanes, this is precisely why the USA has such a gigantic navy - which we all benefit from, by the way. You don't argue with Iran. Not anymore anyway. Not after some 30 years of political torture at our behest to get the stuff we need to fire this bananas economy. Iran can close the Straits of Hormuz in minutes and have stockbrokers jumping from windows worldwide. They don't even need nukes. If the only country to use the bomb in anger were to threaten Iran, you'd have Moscow, Peking and Delhi lighting fuses. Insofar as Lockerbie is concerned then, far easier to blame some mad dog Libyan quasi socialist.

    Pip, pip.

  3. Dear Baz,

    I have noted the following on your blog. Robert Black is notoriously more diplomatic than myself, as you probably know, hence, he curtailed your comments at the end of point 6.

    7. While one person who read the proofs, Robert Forrester, described the book as "a work of genius" it is not quite up their with Emile Zola. Perhaps the problem with Forrester and another proof-reader Professor Robert Black is that they are too familiar with the subject. This is a very important book and I hope it is widely read but accessible to the intelligent reader who has only a outline understanding of the story. (Doctor Kerr offered me the opportunity to read the manuscript but I declined having some history in attempting to publicise the "Heathrow origin" of the Lockerbie bomb.)

    Morag Kerr has given you considerable credit for input towards her published work 'Adequately Explained,,,,etc' What precisely are you looking for? The Crown Jewels? I must say that from having read your blog post in more detail, I get the feeling that we are headed for yet another of our famously historical clashes. this does not disturb me in the slightest. I live off friction. I know not if The RHKP stuffed you unfairly or not, however, you always come over as someone who is saturated by bile. Why is that?


  4. I'd never have imagined that I could be one of those stupidly forgetting a wallet in the taxi. But I did on my way to the airport in the beginning of December, a bit stressed out as an anti-gov demonstration blocked the way for an hour. (Got too late for the plane as well, enforcing purchase of a new ticket. So here is at least one thing I could fully agree with Marquise in: overthrowing governments comes at a cost.)

    In any case, because of the time to get a new credit card (Danish bank, but I am resident in Bangkok) I could not grant myself this book at Christmas present. :-(
    So I can't yet participate in the reviewing yet, but as they say, there's no joy like the joy of expectation.

    Happy New Year to all.

  5. Is there a question in Quincy Riddle's comment? Perhaps who ought to view the completed work which I hope will complete my blog "The Masonic Verses".

    I did have a small problem after I left the RHKP with a "law-enforcement" agency the Independent Commission Against Corruption soliciting criminals to harm me precisely because I challenged a fraudulent version of events presented to the Courts by their associates in a corrupt Legal Department in a case which only involved 4 or 5 murders (one might really have been suicide.) Are you perhaps familiar with the "Maxwell Confait" case? (The Police Officer involved in this Graham Stockwell was D/Ops of the ICAC).

    Charles Norrie once came up with the ludicrous claim that the CIA were planning to murder him because of his crackpot claims. I have taken the view that the situation might be slightly different if you are actually pointing out the truth and at the very least I have had my phone tapped for 17years. I came to Lockerbie from looking into the career and activities of Terry Waite's associate Ian Spiro whose wife and three children were murdered on the 1st November 1992. Did Spiro murder them? I don't think so. And where is Majid Giaka and his spouse? Pointing out the truth is not risk-free and I am glad Morag Kerr has put this in the public domain. Bile? You have no idea why I got involved in this.

    My review of Doctor Kerr's book is far from completed (in fact I told Professor Black I hoped to publish it in a week.) It was only online a few seconds while I checked the layout. I truly want this book to be successful and widely read and I am concerned that it is accessible to a wider audience.

    While I thought I knew everything worth knowing about Lockerbie Doctor Kerr's book contains the most astonishing revelation about one of the key characters. Apparently the Police never followed up on this (as anything that transpired at Heathrow was deemed irrelevant) but I am gobsmacked that none of Megrahi's defence teams picked up on it but if you have a researcher who persists in trying to push the drug conspiracy hoax that may not be too surprising. I am not sure even Morag Kerr has grasped the implications of this revelation.

    While I don't want to get into a slanging match with Professor Black I strongly object to his amending "The King's New Clothes" to the "Emperor's New Clothes". When I was a kid I played to King in our church panto so I know what I'm talking about!

    Back to the review!

  6. In addition to giving me permission to reproduce the Teddy Taylor letter, Baz drew my attemtion to the matter of the ESDA testing on the contentious pages of Hayes's notes, for which much thanks, indeed.

    My problem was that I could not understand Baz's explanation of the issues. It was necessary for me to go to the source material, the SCCRC report, and figure it all out for myself from first principles. The matter then became clear.

    Baz has had a number of important insights in this case, not least that he was apparently the only person to understand the importance of the Bedford suitcase before the Zeist trial. Unfortunately he seems to be unable to explain his insights in a way that most people can follow, and also to be unable to re-work his explanations when it becomes clear that he is not being understood.

    I think it is an enormous pity that his representations were ignored, however in many ways presentation is all in matters of this nature. He is now in the midst of publishing a lengthy diatribe on my book, which seems to boil down to "it was all stolen from me and I could have written it better anyway".

    Way to miss the point. The point is the suitcase jigsaw. The destructive charring on the lining panel of the Carlsson suitcase, the maximum damage to the McKee case being right at floor level, and the Schauble case having a large quantity of the Coyle case, plus fragments from the bomb suitcase and the IED itself blasted across and into its lid.

    The book may be considered to be in effect a vehicle for showcasing these points, a frame to allow them to be hung on the wall. Baz doesn't seem to have noticed. Maybe I'm as bad as he is!

  7. Dear Baz,

    We have had our little spats in the past, however, whereas I regard you as someone I respect as being hugely committed, well-informed and perceptive, my difficulty lies in that I also find the way in which you express your attitudes towards others on this campaign occasionally quite rude and imbued with bitterness.

    We are all flawed, possibly me more than most, but we all try in our own sweet ways to make progress. I believe that we are making massive strides due to the cohesion of individuals who put in their various tuppenceworths, you included. I simply feel that you should perhaps have a pipe of opium or something before you go pillorying folk who are on the same side.


  8. Not at all. I am not saying I could have written it better - indeed it seems I did write some it and then wrote it better.

    I just hope this book is accessible to all and to this end you might have rearranged your material and trimmed it at bit as well as adding one or two important sections notably concerning Majid Giaka.

    While my review may be a diatribe it is not aimed at you. Your book contains the most incredible revelation (that I am not going to reveal) that the defence teams had just sat on for years. Its incredible.

    Am I a poor communicator? Unfortunately I am nearly blind and proofreading is difficult. At what level do you pitch an argument. For the tin-foil people? I have never met anybody involved in the Lockerbie case since 1993 (at least since the bombing itself!)

    The SCCRC report is not source material. You didn't know what the Document Examiner said about page 49 because the SCCRC doesn't say. I didn't pick up on page 51 being a fake from the SCCRC. They thought it was genuine. It is fake because photograph 117 (even if genuine) was taken ten days later. I still found appendix B remarkably similar to my article "Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil" particularly in its original form.

    I do think I did very well with the material available and for example I communicated very well with Sir Teddy and my letters to him were usually a single page. (He was a busy man). However I was only able to identify four items of Interline baggage not knowing anything about the Vienna flight. (What about Ron LaRiviere by the way - did he have a bag?) Could I have done better with more information? Well probably.

    You are quite correct that the photos of (for example) Carlson's luggage indicate the explosion was very low down and the absurdity of Miss Coyle's bag being below the "bomb" suitcase is very well argued. But as you say these are secondary issues. The point is the "Bedford Samsonite" was only eliminated in theory not in fact. Beyond that its just gravy.

    May I make a final point on the Libya/Iran/PFLP-GC conundrum although I have argued this explicitly in the first three items of my blog. I quoted Mohammed Beshti's statement (in English) that "what our response with be we do not say, but it will be an appropriate response to the magnitude of the American crime" the key word being "appropriate."

    In a nutshell -

    (a) Lockerbie was Iranian retaliation for the Vincennes Incident.

    (b) An inappropriate response ("Autumn Leaves") was foiled.

    (c) An appropriate response at a less sensitive time (after the election)was tolerated and the CIA at least knew PA103 was targeted for destruction.

    (d)To draw a line in the sand it was pretended retaliation had not occurred.

    (e)To confirm (d) and for other political objectives Libya was blamed.

    Further to this

    Your book questions what my allegation was in my letter to Sir Teddy (one page together with a a diagram) - simply that the Police had made a colossal blunder in eliminating Heathrow. I wasn't angry at the letter from the Met - I thought it was quite good but it was up to Sir Teddy to pursue it. I still think you used the wrong letter. The letter from the Met is of little interest. The letter I received from the DoT in response to my letter to the PM I thought was dynamite. The Aviation security Branch did not know on what evidence the FAI had eliminated Heathrow.

    There are some matters with which I disagree with you, matters not of fact but of interpretation. I do not agree with the view that the Trial Judges were somehow misled and if only the defence had pulled their socks up it would all have been OK. I don't agree Megrahi's name only emerged later in the investigation but this is really a chicken or egg debate.

  9. Well, there's no point in arguing over it. I didn't realise you had such problems with your eyesight, sorry to hear it.

    As I said, you drew my attention to the ESDA thing, and I have always acknowledged that and been grateful for it. If you have more in the same vein, I'd be interested to have a look at it. I remember you saying something about the dates on the photographic negatives being the day they were taken and not the day the film was developed, which would add to the puzzle if true. I decided not to go there for the book, because it wasn't really relevant to the suitcase evidence and you have to stop somewhere. I think there may be a lot more to come out about PT/35b, leave it for that.

    I arranged the material as it seemed best to me, with the aim of making a coherent narrative for people unfamiliar with the detail of the case, and focussing 90% on the transfer luggage. Actually, that arrangement presented itself to me complete and ordered, straight from the subconscious, and I saw no reason to change it. I suppose we explain things in the way that seems clear to us. I find your explanations very difficult to follow, so we'll probably just have to agree to differ on that.

    Giaka has been pretty well covered elsewhere. I alluded to him in half a sentence on page 187. The book wasn't an attempt to cover the entire saga, it was intended to follow the case from the perspective of the baggage transfers. There are more books to be written, though hopefully not by me.

    You have a different narrative from myself. That doesn't make it a worse narrative, just different. So really, there's no point your trying to make my narrative into yours or vice versa. My narrative is that the appalling errors of the early part of the Lockerbie investigation may well have been just that - errors. No matter how hard it may be to wrap your brain round the concept that any group of people could have been quite that stupid.

    That's where the letter I quoted came in. What was going on with this Met investigation at Heathrow, which really happened, but which obviously didn't eliminate the Bedford case or possibly even look at it? It fitted the narrative of the book. Sorry if I communicated your position incorrectly though.

    Ronald LaRiviere didn't check in any luggage. See the table on page 100. It's quite surprising how many of these passengers didn't have any hold luggage. I think businessmen going for short trips and staying in hotels tended only to have hand baggage, which was quite a generous allowance especially for the first and clipper class passengers.

    The narrative, for me, is still quite fluid. I wouldn't argue with the points you set out, but the devil is in the detail. At what point do the various shenanigans cease to be "adequately explained by stupidity"? That's the part that fascinates me and I don't know the answer yet.

  10. Dear Baz,

    I too am sorry to hear of your failing eyesight. It is the very last sense I would wish to lose. My apologies if I have offended you.


  11. "folk who are on the same side"?
    No we're not.

  12. Dear Baz,

    I give up. Clearly, I deluded myself into thinking a few years back that we had established a degree of identity, seemingly not. I do not know what track you are on anymore. Enough.


  13. A degree of identity? As I recall I received an obscene response from you after I [politely) responded to your request for advice and assistance. Am I interested in rehabilitating a dead terrorist? Am I doing this for people who describe Megrahi as a friend yet were happy to accept compensation from Libya? I have never figured that one out.

    I am not a member of JfM as I am fussy as to who I associate myself with. (Incidentally did you not know Patrick Shearer signed a blood oath never to question the verdict. That's how he got the job!)

    I have a personal interest and I am interested in the truth. I am not "on the same side" as some dimwit who has made a career from peddling a hoax.

    ps. My full review of Dr Kerr's splendid book is now online. Joan S. Laverie may find it of interest.

  14. Dear Baz,

    Thank you. Your eyesight is clearly not as failing as I had thought.

    Yes, you most certainly did receive an extremely irate and insulting mail from me many moons ago following one of your own verbal carpet bombing sorties in which you lashed out at friends and supporters. I do not apologise for this. I think you deserved every word.

    I am not going to engage blades with you on Baset, Shearer or anyone else. We are simply doing what we believe to be right and provable.

    I regard you as a most perceptive and knowledgeable individual whose vision is clouded by a deep bitterness. I don't know where all this comes from but I think it a shame that we cannot maintain some form of accommodation.