Wednesday 29 January 2014

Lockerbie, and the mangled logic of Magnus Linklater

[This is the headline over an article by John Ashton in today’s edition of the Scottish Review.  It reads as follows:]

Earlier this month, together with other supporters of the 'Lockerbie bomber', Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, I found myself accused in the Scottish Review of being an obsessive conspiracy theorist, impervious to fact or reason. The article's author, The Times' columnist Magnus Linklater, believes that, far from being a stain on Scottish justice, Mr Megrahi's case 'triumphantly vindicates' it.

He argues that we prefer innuendo, myth, and half-truths to straight evidence and independent judgement, yet he displays exactly that preference. For good measure, he misrepresents his opponents, mangles logic and contradicts himself.

He ascribes to us two related conspiracy theories: firstly that the bombing was commissioned by Iran and carried out by the Syrian-based anti-PLO, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command; and, secondly, that there was a grand conspiracy to shift blame to Megrahi and Libya, to which the police, the Crown Office, witnesses, judges, senior politicians and the intelligence services were all willing parties.

A word about that term 'conspiracy theory'. It's a cheap and nasty little put-down that herds honest truth-seekers into the same pen as the Elvis-was-abducted-by-aliens crowd, while relieving the user of the obligation to properly address the facts.

If the Iran/PFLP-GC scenario is a conspiracy theory, then so too is what the Crown posited at Megrahi's trial. That theory went as follows. On 21 December 1988 he placed a suitcase on board Air Malta flight KM180 from Malta to Frankfurt. It contained a bomb concealed within a Toshiba BomBeat radio-cassette player and was labelled for New York on PA103. From Frankfurt it was transferred to a Heathrow then loaded onto PA103.

The suitcase was packed with clothes that Megrahi had bought in Malta on 7 December, from a shopkeeper called Tony Gauci. He took the case to Malta on 20 December and the following morning flew home on a flight whose check-in time overlapped with KM180's. Before leaving, he managed to place the suitcase on KM180 with the help of his former LAA colleague Lamin Fhimah, with whom he stood trial.

The two men fronted companies for the Libyan intelligence service, the JSO. One of them, ABH, co-owned by Megrahi, shared Zurich offices with electronics company Mebo, which, three years before Lockerbie, had supplied 20 unique electronic timers to Libya, one of which was used in the bomb.

As conspiracy theories go, it was pretty lousy. Mr Linklater acknowledges that the case was entirely circumstantial. What he ignores is that, towards the end of the trial, the Crown amended the indictment, quietly dropping many of the conspiracy claims, a tacit admission that much of its theory was unsupported.

What of the evidence? Mr Linklater's summary thoroughly exaggerates its strength: 'It placed al-Megrahi in Malta on the relevant date, travelling in the company of another intelligence operative, holding a false passport, and identified as the purchaser of clothing, later found in the case which held the explosives. Forensic evidence, in the form of a fragment of timer used to detonate the bomb, had been supplied to the Libyans by its Swiss manufacturer. Subsequent evidence also turned up some $1.8 million in al-Megrahi's personal bank account, calling into question the Libyan government's description of him as a low-ranking airline worker'.

To summarise more accurately: the evidence suggested that Megrahi was not in Malta on the clothes purchase date; there is no evidence that his travel companion was an intelligence operative and the evidence suggests that he only worked for the service in 1986 (the claim that he was a senior intelligence agent was made by discredited Libyan CIA informant Magid Giaka, who also alleged that Colonel Gaddafi was a freemason); he kept the false passport and handed it over at trial – hardly the actions of a terrorist; forensic evidence proves that the timer fragment was not from one of the 20 Libyan timers; Megrahi never described himself as a low-ranking airline worker, rather he admitted that he used his connections to senior Libyan officials to make a nice living importing goods through ABH; had he testified at trial, the court would have been shown bank and company records that support his claim that all the bank transactions were legitimate. (...)

Many aspects of the Crown's theory were incredible. For example, Megrahi chose to buy clothes in a small shop and did so in a random manner, which seemed designed to bring attention to himself. Rather than compartmentalising the operation, as any sensible terrorist would, he returned to the island a fortnight later to plant the bomb. Furthermore, he chose to launch it on a three-stage journey from Malta's Luqa airport, where Mr Fhimah was well known, and which had unusually strict baggage procedures.

Libya's supposed motive was revenge for the US air raids of 1986. This element of the theory was contradicted by none other than Margaret Thatcher, who wrote in her autobiography that the 'Libyan counter attack did not and could not take place…There was a marked decline in Libyan-sponsored terrorism in succeeding years'.

Since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011, no evidence has emerged publicly to suggest that Libya was involved in the bombing – this despite the fact that the opposition leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil claimed to have proof of Gaddafi's involvement. (When pressed on the claim by the BBC, the best he could offer was that the government had paid for Megrahi's legal case.) Inconveniently for the Crown, some senior anti-Gaddafi figures have challenged claims of Libyan involvement.

In defending the official narrative, Mr Linklater offers the following king-sized non-sequitur: 'Even the Libyan government appears to accept that the origins of the plot lie in their country – it has appointed prosecutors to liaise with Scottish investigators in their search for further proof'. The appointment of prosecutors does not connote an acceptance of Libyan involvement.

Mr Linklater points out that my books barely touch upon another alleged case of Libyan aviation terrorism, the bombing of UTA flight 772 in 1989. The reason is simple: I am not an expert on it and am therefore happy to accept that Libya might have been to blame. (French journalist Pierre Péan, who is an expert, has, I am told, destroyed the official case.) The UTA bombers' use of a Samsonite suitcase and a timer, according to Mr Linklater, makes the attack 'strikingly similar' to Lockerbie, yet the Sikhs who blew up Air India flight 182 in 1985 also used a Samsonite case and a timer.

A more startling parallel, in my view, is the fact that the forensic cases both rested on tiny fragments of the alleged timers recovered from a vast crash site, which were analysed by the same discredited FBI expert, and traced to a shady European supplier. And, as with Lockerbie, the prosecution rested upon the erratic testimony of a single witness.

What, then, of the Iran/PFLP-GC conspiracy theory? Mr Linklater ascribes it to Megrahi's supporters, yet the Justice for Megrahi campaign, to which most of the supporters are signatories, is deliberately neutral on the matter. For reasons I am about to explain, however, as I cautioned in my book Megrahi: You are my Jury, the case against these alternative suspects may turn out to be as flawed as the one against Megrahi – a statement that undermines Mr Linklater's characterisation of me as wholly wedded to this counter theory.

Iran had a powerful motive: revenge for the US Navy's shoot-down of Iran Air flight 655, which killed 290 six months before Lockerbie. Declassified US intelligence documents state as fact that Iran hired the PFLP-GC. Another, written months after the investigation had switched to Libya, stated that Iran's interior minister had paid the bombers $10 million. In October 1988 a PFLP-GC cell in West Germany was caught by the police planning an attack on western airlines. Its bomb-maker, Marwan Khreesat, confessed that he had made five barometrically triggered bombs, two of which he had concealed within a mono Toshiba BomBeat radio cassette players. The Lockerbie Toshiba BomBeat was stereo.

According to Khreesat, a senior group member and airline security expert known as Abu Elias evaded arrest. Less than three weeks before the bombing, without naming the PFLP-GC, a US State Department security bulletin warned of an imminent attack by anti-PLO Palestinian terrorists based in Europe. It added: '[Targets] specified are Pan Am airlines and US mil[itary] bases'.

Apologists for the official line have claimed that the intelligence documents merely recycled old and unreliable intelligence, yet a deep-cover CIA asset called Richard Fuisz was told by numerous high ranking Syrian officials as late as 1995 (four years after the two Libyans were indicted) that the PFLP-GC's leader, Ahmed Jibril, was taking credit for the bombing. These sources, said Fuisz in a 2001 court hearing, the scope of which was severely limited by the CIA, interacted with Jibril on a constant basis.

Mr Linklater wrote in an email to me: 'I am amazed that you should be touting shadowy CIA agents like Fuisz…whose evidence would never stand up in court'. He stopped short of calling Fuisz a liar, because there is nothing to suggest that he is, but the pejorative verb and adjective carried the innuendo that neither of us were to be trusted. How does Mr Linklater know that Fuisz's evidence would not stand up? If the CIA had loosened its leash on Fuisz, he could have named names, and provide leads and evidence that would have been accepted in court.

On to that second conspiracy theory. According to Mr Linklater's Times column of 13 August 2012, we allege a huge plot to shift the blame from Iran and the PFLP-GC to Libya, which involved: 'the planting or suppression of forensic evidence, the control of witnesses by intelligence services, the approval of senior politicians, the complicity of police officers, a prosecution team prepared to bend every rule to secure a conviction, and a set of senior Scottish judges willing to go along with that'.

The last sentence is key. It suggests that we claim that everyone from the police to the judges plotted with government and intelligence services to protect the likely bombers and convict those whom they knew to be innocent. The trouble is neither I, nor the great majority of Megrahi's supporters, have ever made such a claim.

To be clear, I believe that two different things happened: firstly, the US government ensured that blame was from Iran and the PFLP-GC to Libya; secondly, the Scottish criminal justice system screwed up massively. The first I consider likely, but unproven, the second I consider a cert. Both are based upon a rational evaluation of the available facts. I do not believe that the second occurred because the Americans told the Scots to exonerate the real culprits and frame innocents, indeed I find such suggestions fanciful.

In an email to me, Mr Linklater wrote: 'I've been in the [journalism] business for more than 40 years, and have learned over that time a simple principle of reporting: that good investigation requires sound proof'. Yet he has failed to produce any evidence that the majority of Megrahi's supporters have posited a grand conspiracy. The Justice for Megrahi campaign committee has formally alleged that some of the failures might have involved criminal conduct by certain Crown servants. They do not, however, claim that it happened at the behest of governments and intelligence services.

The US government was motivated to exonerate Iran, I believe, because the Iranians knew where the Iran-Contra skeletons lay and also held sway over the US hostages held in Lebanon – whose safe return was an obsession of the Reagan-Bush White House. Another obsession was Libya. As Watergate journalist Bob Woodward revealed, CIA director William Casey launched one of the biggest covert programmes in the agency's history, with the clear aim of toppling Gaddafi. Disinformation – that is, lying and fakery – was at its core.

The Lockerbie investigation was supposedly driven by old-fashioned detective work, but, as we have learned over the years, behind the scenes the CIA played a key role. We now know that the timer fragment was not from one of the 20 timers to Libya. Is it really far-fetched to suggest that the CIA planted it in order to conclusively link Libya to the bombing?

I have done many months of my own old-fashioned detective work among the hundreds of people who searched the crash site. They witnessed American officials in Lockerbie within two hours of the crash, CIA agents searching the site without police supervision, and substantial drug and cash finds – all things that have been officially denied. There may well be innocent explanations for these events, in which case the authorities should reveal them. And, instead of writing me off as a conspiracy theorist, perhaps Mr Linklater should do some door knocking of his own.

The core of his argument is that we have dismissed hard evidence in favour of speculation, yet our chief concern is not the suspicion that blame was shifted. Rather, it is that the evidence that convicted Megrahi was anything but hard, and that the hard evidence that should have acquitted him was withheld.

Our case is built on facts, not speculation – these facts in particular:

1. The trial court judgement, delivered by three of Scotland's most senior judges, was deemed unreasonable by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, indeed the commission came as close as it legally could to saying that the guilty verdict itself was unreasonable.

2. The SCCRC discovered that the Crown had withheld numerous items of evidence that, in its view, would have been important to Megrahi's defence. No fewer than four of the SCCRC's six appeal referral grounds concerned such undisclosed evidence.

3. During the trial, two senior prosecutors viewed the previously redacted extracts of CIA cables concerning the key Crown witness and CIA informant Magid Giaka. They reported back to their boss, the Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC, that there was nothing within them that might assist the defence, and he relayed the assurance to the court. However, when that material was later disclosed to the defence, it was found to contain numerous damaging details, including the fact that his CIA handlers had grown so dissatisfied with him that they had been on the verge of sacking him. The revelations prompted Fhimah's leading counsel, Richard Keen QC, to comment that he found it 'inconceivable' that the Crown could have considered the material had no bearing on the case. The SCCRC noted that Mr Boyd's assurance to the court was 'difficult to understand'. (...)

4. The Crown Office allowed the police to obtain a $2m reward for the most important prosecution witness, Tony Gauci, despite the payment of such rewards being against its own rules (a subject on which I have also written for the Scottish Review). The Crown withheld the results of forensic tests, which had been supervised by the chief prosecution forensic scientist, that directly contradicted his crucial assertion that the timer fragment was 'similar in all respects' to the boards used in the timers supplied to Libya.

5. Despite being under a legal obligation to investigate all leads, not only those that point to Libya, the police and Crown Office have failed to interview witnesses who can attest to the fact that the fragment could not have originated from the Libyan timers.

6. When, in 2012, the committee of Justice for Megrahi submitted a summary of their allegations of criminal misconduct in confidence to the justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill, and invited him to appoint an independent investigator to consider them, MacAskill instead passed them to the Crown Office and told them to take the allegations to the police, even though Crown Office officials and police officers were named in the allegations. Despite having seen neither the detailed allegations, nor the supporting evidence, the Crown Office immediately declared publicly that they were 'without exception, defamatory and entirely unfounded' and that the committee had been 'deliberately misleading', i.e. were liars.

These are all facts, not opinions or theories. Mr Linklater fails to acknowledge most of them and the rest he brushes over lightly. I believe that they add up to the greatest scandal in Scotland's post-devolution era. The Crown Office's response to the Justice for Megrahi committee's allegations is especially disturbing. The allegations remain unproven and their subjects are entitled to the presumption of innocence, but they were made in good faith by people of intelligence and integrity, among them a former police superintendent, the former parish priest of Lockerbie and the father of one of the Lockerbie victims. However, the Crown Office's petulant and partisan response excluded from the outset any prospect of prosecutions.

Rather than engaging with the SCCRC report's awkward contents, Mr Linklater has used it to mow down his straw men of conspiracy nuts. In a Times article he claimed that the report 'triumphantly vindicates' the justice system. This is like suggesting that the emergency services who save lives at a train crash are a triumphant vindication of rail safety.

He asserts that the SCCRC disposes of most of our 'cherished theories' in particular claims that evidence had been manipulated by the police. These allegations emanated not from Megrahi's supporters, but from a former police officer known as the Golfer. I have also been critical of the Golfer. Strange, then, that Mr Linklater should have inferred that I cherish the Golfer's claims.

He accuses us of rejecting parts of the report that don't suit us, when we in fact accept most of them. But if, as we believe, the report is a curate's egg, are we not entitled to say so? Parts of it are demonstrably poor; for example, the commission conducted a lengthy review of the evidence concerning the timer fragment, yet failed to uncover the crucially important fact – based upon the evidence of Crown witnesses – that it could not have originated from one of the Libyan timers. Its investigation of events at the crash site was very limited and it failed to interview any of the civilian and military witnesses who attest to the events and finds that I have described above.

It is not only Mr Linklater's conspiracy theorists who don't accept all the SCCRC's findings: neither did the lawyers who led Megrahi's second appeal (which, sadly, he felt compelled to abandon in order to secure compassionate release). They also contended that there were serious failings in the conduct of his defence and that the defence team was mistaken in not leading certain evidence in relation to, inter alia, the PFLP-GC, Heathrow airport and Tony Gauci.

I am not a lawyer and therefore make no judgement on the defence team, who have vigorously contested these claims. But to imply, as Mr Linklater does, that it is a matter of uncontested fact that they properly evaluated all the evidence is simply misleading.

Mr Linklater is apparently oblivious to the contradictions in his own arguments, with occasionally hilarious consequences. For example, having dismissed my summary of the police investigation as 'little more than a caricature', he delivers this cartoon-like portrait of his antagonists: 'Once seized with the virus of suspicion, nothing in the way of fact or reason will deter those who are determined to prove their case'.

He berates me for using the phrase 'we may never know', declaring that he has always distrusted it as 'it is a means of dropping a hint without ever revealing whether there is any truth in it'. How marvellous that he later writes: 'The SCCRC raised questions about the identification, which, it determined, were grounds for appeal. Whether that would have overturned the verdict we may never know'.

The hint dropped by this particular 'we may never' is that the verdict would have stood. To drive home the point he claims that Megrahi might have been convicted, even if he had not been correctly identified as the clothes purchaser. If he has properly read the court's judgement, he should know that the 'identification' – not an identification at all, of course – was central to the conviction. But maybe he hasn't properly read it, because, as he acknowledges, he is not a Lockerbie specialist. This is especially apparent in his account of the Heathrow evidence, which has come under fresh scrutiny thanks to the publication of the book Adequately Explained by Stupidity? by another of his targets, Dr Morag Kerr.

Mr Linklater's Times article of 21 December highlighted an assertion by Mr Megrahi's trial counsel, Bill Taylor QC, that the Heathrow evidence was 'tested to destruction'. An unnamed member of the defence team added the suggestion that the bomber had bought clothes in Malta then planted the bomb at Heathrow: 'just doesn’t stack up'. Again, this was odd, because during his final submissions to the court Mr Taylor argued, quite rightly, that Maltese clothing did not prove the bomb's origin. Clothes bought weeks earlier had plenty of time to leave the island prior to the bombing.

Mr Linklater says that the implication that the bomber bought clothes in Malta and planted the bomb at Heathrow 'requires a heavy suspension of disbelief'. The idea that the same person bought the clothes and planted the bomb is, I agree, far fetched (although this is what the Crown posited at trial), but is not the suggestion that the bombers used the clothes to lay a false trail to Malta. As Mr Taylor asked during his final submissions: 'If the clothes buyer had intended to place the bomb bag on to a plane at Luqa, having regard to the high level of risk of detection, wouldn't one have expected him to remove the clothing labels?'.

Mr Linklater claims that the SCCRC found the evidence of a Heathrow bomb 'so thin' that it did not bother to examine it. What the SCCRC actually said was that it did not examine the Heathrow evidence because it received no submissions on the matter, and because it received substantial attention at trial. The evidence we found when preparing Megrahi's second appeal was, in the view of senior counsel, significant and should have been before the trial court. It is clear, both from Dr Kerr's analysis and the second appeal team's, that the trial court was not given a clear view of the Heathrow evidence. (I wrote more about this in an open letter to Mr Linklater, to which he has so far failed to respond.)

Mr Linklater's biggest howler is his assertion that Dr Kerr and I claim that the bombing was linked to a break-in that occurred at Heathrow 15 hours earlier. We do no such thing, indeed we both accept that the break-in may well be wholly irrelevant. Mr Linklater points out, as I have previously, that the matter was considered and rejected at Mr Megrahi's first appeal, but this does not excuse the Crown's failure to disclose it.

For all that he insults me as an irrational conspiracy theorist, we should be grateful to Mr Linklater for his contributions. The Megrahi case deserves public debate and, until he emerged as the voice of the 'it-couldn't-happen-here' tendency, that debate was very one-sided. When boiled down, his defence of the conviction is that the Crown case 'has been tested and re-tested under the strict conditions imposed by a court of law', whereas the counter evidence has not. Yet he knows that court scrutiny is no guarantee of a conviction's safety.

The most notorious miscarriage of justice cases, like the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four, were only resolved when the courts accepted the evidence and arguments of the victims' supporters. Which begs a big question: when those convictions still stood, but their weakness were widely known, would Mr Linklater have defended them with the equivalent vigour? As he might say, we may never know.

John Ashton is a writer, researcher and TV producer. He has studied the Lockerbie case for 18 years and from 2006 to 2009 was a researcher with Megrahi's legal team. His book 'Megrahi: You Are My Jury', is published by Birlinn  

[An expanded version of this article can be found on Mr Ashton's Megrahi: You are my Jury website.]


  1. It is extraordinarily difficult to find anyone prepared to debate this issue on the side of guilt, who will confront the fundamental facts. Magnus Linklater is no exception.

    He's all over the place. The idea that clothes bought weeks before the bombing prove that the bomb must have been introduced at the airport next-door to the shop in question is clearly ludicrous. Even the prosecution appear to have postulated that the clothes were taken to Libya and back in the interim!

    The idea that the use of a common brand of suitcase and a timer of some sort proves that two aircraft bombings were carried out by the same group is equally preposterous.

    Megrahi is said to have had a lot of money. A great many people have a lot of money, and some of them might be hard-pressed to explain how they came by it, too. May we convict all of them of the bombing of PA103?

    Indeed, the present Libyan government is offering co-operation to the Scottish investigators trying to track down Megrahi's alleged accomplices. They have little choice, let's face it. Proof that they accept that Megrahi was the bomber? Who knows. Proof that they have evidence that Megrahi was the bomber? I think not, or we might have heard about it.

    In common with some others who have debatied this issue from the same standpoint, Magnus's stock-in-trade is the bald assertion of the very facts that his opponents dispute. He then obfuscates the argument by dragging up matters which are completely irrelevant if indeed these disputed facts are disproved.

    Those of us who believe this was a serious miscarriage of justice do not believe that Megrahi was the man who bought the clothes in the bomb suitcase, and we are prepared to explain why we believe that, in great detail. Magnus merely asserts it. If pressed, he will acknowledge that the SCCRC is on our side on this point, but then side-steps with some flannel about this not being tested in court. That's kind of the point. This should be tested in court.

    Magnus points out that Megrahi was on Malta on the day of the bombing, as if this is somehow incriminating. He does this after (so he has said) reading an entire book that shows that the bomb was nowhere near Malta that day, and Megrahi's presence there in fact gives him an unbreakable alibi. He references the book - but only to disparage it as "cavalier". Not a single word of acknowledgement of the main argument, never mind any counter-argument.

    This is intellectually lazy to the point of dishonesty. I'm pleased to see John Ashton skewer him so effectively.

  2. As we have been told often enough that without Majid Giaka there would have been no trial of ‘the Libyan’s’.

    It was this omission from Mr Linklater’s article which was noteworthy, and amid the broad brushing of those he seeks to discredit and undermine, prompted irk.

    How could anyone who has pledged to uphold the decisions and behaviour of various officials during, and subsequent to, the Lockerbie trial, fail to address such a critical part of the apparent judicial triumph? That is a rhetorical question since anyone to do so, does with obvious and good reason, however abject and shameless.

    The Scottish judiciary might not be accused of offering the Gauci brothers the rewards they collected; the Scottish judiciary could not be accused of presenting the convoluted opinions of the MST manufacturer. However, the Scottish judiciary, and the Crown office and its officials in particular, can most certainly be accused of shameless behaviour in the episode of Mr Giaka.

    They were said to have been denied access to Mr Giaka by their US associates, and had only been in a position to examine the full range of his evidence prior to the trial at Zeist. Perhaps, such insincere guile by our American friends was only coming to light during Mr Giaka’s fitting for a wig and dark glasses?

    However, while ignorance is no excuse, the behaviour of these same officials when made aware of Mr Giaka’s unreliability, falsity, distortion and conjuring of non-existent events, is as shocking as it is reprehensible. Officials actively sought to suppress the damning CIA cables from the court. Not for a day or two, but for weeks and weeks Crown officials (with DOJ advice over their shoulders) fought strenuously to deny the court, and the defence, access or sight of highly relevant portions of the cables which they were already fully aware of.

    Once revealed, the full cables demonstrated the prosecutions much trumpeted star witness and stool pigeon, despite much recompense, was regarded a fraud and fantasist from the very beginning.

    Mr Linklater is just another in a long line of drive-by assertions, with added pomposity granted, in support of the conviction. You don’t need to be a Philadelphia lawyer, nor have 4 decades in the ‘business’, to know exactly why the Giaka episode might be omitted from some writers opinions.

  3. An unnamed member of the defence team added the suggestion that the bomber had bought clothes in Malta then planted the bomb at Heathrow: 'just doesn’t stack up'.

    Bill Taylor & co have a short memory: wasn't part of their defence at Zeist the fact that Abu Talb had a stash of clothing of Maltese origin in his flat in Sweden?

  4. Turning that on its head, you might equally well (or indeed, with more justification) observe that for a terrorist to draw attention to Malta by using traceable clothes manufactured and sold on the island was completely insane. According to the prosecution, the Libyans had devised a plan so perfect that not only did they manage to penetrate Luqa airport's excellent security system, they managed to do it in such a way that even after the event there was no evidence that it had been done at all. Why would anyone who had devised such an undetectable crime then deliberately go out of his way to buy traceable clothes in a small shop only three miles from the same airport?

    The very strange circumstances of that clothes purchase look for all the world like "a trail of sweeties leading the cops to Malta" as another poster so eloquently put it. And presumably, leading them to Malta, away from the actual scene of the crime. Maybe it was just an afterthought. A little extra flourish. Whatever, I think it worked beyond someone's wildest dreams.

    I wonder if the clothes were the only sweeties in that trail though. What about tray 8849?

  5. Abu Talb. I don't think he was Gauci's clothes purchaser either. Just like Megrahi, he was too young and didn't fit the description in other ways. Also, he had a marked limp, which Gauci would surely have noticed.

    I'm not sure where he got his Maltese clothes from, but I think it was from the manufacturers, not a retail outlet. But the Yorkie trousers in the bomb suitcase were definitely bought from Gauci by the tall dark stranger. It's all very peculiar.

  6. Would that be a Milk Tray?

  7. John Ashton's "expanded version" states "what the SCCRC actually said was that it did not examine the Heathrow evidence because it received no submissions on the matter". I cannot find this in the Statement of Reasons and I presume at least two persons did make submissions on this subject (albeit in conjunction with other crackpot claims.)

    Does he mean Mr Megrahi's Legal representatives made no such submission?

    I understand that despite being employed by Megrahi's defence teams as researcher Mr Ashton made his own separate submission to the SCCRC. As he claims to want an open debate (although he threatened to sue me for criticising his book) perhaps he should publish his own submission.

  8. ps. I do so agree with Eddie's comments about Majid Giaka but not just from the perspective of Camp Zeist. Giaka's (unchallenged) Grand Jury evidence was the pretext for the Indictment which in my view was far more important than the Trial. Indeed there may never have been a trial. I pointed out to the Crown Office in June 1996 that the primary suitcase was introduced at Heathrow. Their response was to admonish me to wait and see the evidence at Trial!

    Where is Giaka now and why hasn't he published his memoirs?