Saturday 20 December 2014

We got it right, says Lord Advocate

[Today’s edition of The Times contains a report by Magnus Linklater headed Lockerbie conviction is upheld by review. It reads as follows:]

A review of the Lockerbie bombing case by Scottish investigators has concluded that there is “not a shred of evidence” to support claims that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was wrongly convicted.

Not only have investigators confirmed beyond doubt that the Libyan was the man responsible for the deaths of 270 people on December 21, 1988, they believe his fellow accused, Lamin Fhimah, who was acquitted, was almost certainly involved as well.

The findings will come as a blow to those, such as Jim Swire, whose daughter was one of those killed, and Robert Black, QC, who maintain that prosecutors advanced a flawed case and that judges presided over a miscarriage of justice. Ever since Megrahi was convicted in 2001 there have been allegations that evidence was manipulated to implicate Libya, steering suspicion away from Middle Eastern states.

Scottish prosecutors have been accused of deliberately ignoring evidence that the bomb was put aboard Pan Am Flight 103 at Heathrow rather than at Malta, and that the timer fragment, the principal piece of forensic evidence against Libya, was planted or altered.

The claims have been examined in detail in the course of the investigation by the Crown Office and Police Scotland, which have been working on the case with the FBI to identify others who were involved in the bombing.

Sources close to the investigation said there was “not a shred of evidence” to suggest the prosecution got it wrong.

Active pursuit of the case in Libya, they added, has served to confirm rather than undermine the evidence against both Megrahi and Fhimah.

Last night Frank Mulholland, QC, the Lord Advocate, said: “During the 26-year-long inquiry not one Crown Office investigator or prosecutor has raised a concern about the evidence in this case . . . our focus remains on the evidence, and not on speculation and supposition.”

Evidence on the bomb itself, and the crucial timer fragment that linked the attack to Libya, found three weeks after Pan Am 103 exploded, have undermined the conspiracy theory.

Critics say the fragment was either planted at the site, exchanged later for another, or was tampered with to show a link to Libya that was never there.

Police are adamant, however, that the fragment was under supervision. They point out that the evidence would have to have been planted within 23 days, requiring knowledge of all the evidence to come — including Megrahi, whose existence was then unknown.

Set against the speculation are facts that have never been disproved: the presence of Megrahi in Malta, carrying a false passport, on the day the prosecution says the bomb went on board flight KM180 to Frankfurt; Fhimah arriving with him; and their subsequent telephone conversations.

[RB: The police investigation here referred to is not that which is currently being conducted by Police Scotland (under the supervision of an independent QC) into Justice for Megrahi’s allegations of criminal misconduct in the Lockerbie investigation, prosecution and trial. Progress reports on that investigation can be accessed here. Furthermore, an application (at the joint instance of the Megrahi family and a group of victims’ relatives) for Megrahi’s conviction to be referred back to the High Court for a further appeal is currently under consideration by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission. In these circumstances and in the light of the evidence disclosed by John Ashton and Dr Morag Kerr in their respective recent books it seems somewhat rash and premature for the Lord Advocate to be trumpeting his confidence that they got the right man after all. But Mr Mulholland, of course, is not noted for circumspection: he characterised Justice for Megrahi’s criminality allegations as “defamatory and without foundation” before they had even been investigated.

Today’s edition of The Times also contains a long comment piece by Magnus Linklater headlined Lockerbie review kills conspiracy theories. Mr Linklater has long been convinced that concerns about the Megrahi conviction are the province of conspiracy theorists (all too often, of course, a lazy slur). In view of his confident certainty, it does seem a pity that he has never responded to John Ashton’s two open letters to him, having indicated that he would do so.]


  1. The problem [not unworthy in itself] is that those who identify with the State [across the political spectrum] and indeed have been rewarded by the State with an honour [CBE] will consider it their duty to defend the State against its distractors and ‘traitors’ – until the State itself recognises the need to change the official line!

    I suspect many Unionists associate ‘Lockerbie truth’ as a front for ‘left-wing/SNP’ agitation against the British State and instinctively oppose it without considering the facts and rely on ‘the guilty conviction delivered by the impartial Scottish [or UK] courts is safe’!

    To persuade Unionists [ML may be beyond redemption, but David McLetchie was not] to change their mind-set is to show that the cover-up is not a UK versus Scotland issue, but a UK versus US issue.

    In short an appeal to British as well as Scottish patriotism is needed to restore honour and establish the truth!

  2. The Times report says, 'Set against the speculation are facts that have never been disproved: the presence of Megrahi in Malta, carrying a false passport, on the day the prosecution says the bomb went on board flight KM180 to Frankfurt; Fhimah arriving with him; and their subsequent telephone conversations.'

    Of course the presence of Megrahi in Malta on 'the day the prosecution says the bomb went on board flight KM180 to Frankfurt' proves absolutely nothing if the bomb didn't go on that flight: a classic example of circular reasoning. Furthermore, the three facts quoted, taken singly or together, fail to prove beyond reasonable doubt, or indeed represent substantial evidence, that the two accused Libyans planted the bomb. It's all rather reminiscent of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet going round a tree in the snow and nearly catching a Woozle.

  3. I've just read James's comment, and now I'm giggling.

    Megrahi's presence at Luqa means nothing if the bomb wasn't introduced there. More than that - it's actually exculpatory. The fact that two people engaged in business dealings, one of whom had offered the other a lift to the airport but then failed to show up, exchanged telephone calls, seems fairly unsurprising. Of course the police have no idea what was actually said during these calls.

    Further to my previous comment (did that actually go through?). I think PT/35b was planted, and I think it was planted on 15th January, and I think I can guess who planted it. I really, really don't like this train of thought and in a way I hope I'm wrong. But PT/35b has nothing at all to do with the evidence showing the bomb was in the suitcase Bedford saw at Heathrow. If it does turn out that PT/35b is entirely kosher and really did fall out of the sky and land on Blinkbonny farm, the bomb was still introduced at Heathrow. At a time when Megrahi was verifiably in Tripoli.

    Some day Mr. Mulholland - or his successor - is going to have to deal with this.

  4. Rolfe, the above is the only comment from you that has reached me today.

  5. Living with the "Lockerbie Affair", 2014. (google translation, german/english):

    When Magnus Linklater is so convinced by his claim, why he promotes with such publications a blocking for an immediate approval of a new forensic examination of the MST-13 timer circuit board (PT-35) at the Forensic Institute of the cantonal police of Zurich/Switzerland ?

    The mutual international legal assistance agreement of 30 October 1990, between Switzerland and Scotland, allows this analysis mutual, until today (current). A new criminal investigation in this MST-13 timer fragment matter in Switzerland, is stand by, because the Scottish Justice, granted legal assistance requests still not.
    Magnus Linklater has never been Involved in the technical and forensic capabilities of a review of the MST-13 timer fragment, otherwise he would not block with his article, an investigation in this provable PT-35 evidence fraud!

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Telecommunication Switzerland. Webpage:

  6. OK, I'll try it again.

  7. They point out that the evidence would have to have been planted within 23 days, requiring knowledge of all the evidence to come — including Megrahi, whose existence was then unknown.

    That's the thing, isn't it. Having spent an embarrassing amount of time looking at the evidence suggesting that PT/35b was planted later, it's very difficult to make it fly. It's all amazingly suspicious - altered labels and renumbered pages and implausible polaroid photos and so on - but when you dig right into it, it becomes difficult to ignore the supporting evidence that backs the official timeline. All the glitches with the provenance do seem to be adequately explained by stupidity.

    So it seems that the timer fragment was really on Hayes's lab bench on 12th May 1989. That being so, it's overwhelmingly likely that it was in the shirt collar logged into the evidence store at Dextar on 17th January.

    The above article seems to be suggesting that it could only have been planted before 13th January, the day the thing is supposed to have been picked up by the search team. While it's possible someone physically went to Blinkbonny farm and dropped it on the grass in the hope it would be picked up, there's always a danger of being seen doing that (admittedly, probably small). There was however a window of opportunity from 14th to 16th January while the aggregate bag of rubbish from that field was lying unsorted at Dextar.

    My guess is, it the shirt collar was fabricated, it was added to the unsorted bag on Sunday 15th January, when perhaps there weren't quite so many people around, and then was innocently sorted and catalogued by Tom McColm on Tuesday 17th with the rest of the stuff. (McColm and Gilchrist were later obliged to pretend they had actually been the searchers who picked the thing up, to maintain the illusion of careful provenance right from the first moment.)

    Or maybe the above statement is correct, and it was dropped in the field some time before 13th January. It's immaterial, really. If it was planted, it was planted little more than three weeks after the crash. You don't devise a plot like that, and fabricate physical evidence, in three weeks from a standing start. If PT/35b was a fabrication, it was part of a plot stretching back well before the crash itself, by people who knew the atrocity was planned.

    I really, really don't like the direction this train of inference is taking.

  8. Or perhaps the fragment was planted early so that the crash could be attributed to a ‘bomb’, with the culprit being identified later! Hence the difference between the fragment and the Libyan timers!

  9. No. The evidence that the plane was brought down by a bomb or IED had nothing to do with the PCB fragment. Pieces of blast-damaged aluminium from the baggage container were found on Christmas Eve.

    The British authorities were desperate for it not to have been a bomb, but there was no arguing with the pitting and sooting on that piece of aluminium.

  10. "Or perhaps the fragment was planted early so that the crash could be attributed to a ‘bomb’, with the culprit being identified later!"
    What fortune they had, choosing a MEBO-design, so a suitable country - Libya - could be accused. And of course that all evidence so exclusively points to a bomb, being placed in a suitcase, in the AVE4041 container.

    As for just dropping the fragment in the grass, with nothing further to secure it would be found, sounds extremely risky. It might not be found, ever.

    I can't see any problem in introducing the fragment into the collection at evidence at any time. A man with the fragment at the right time and place, and a couple of lies.

    This page is very interesting:

    BTW, it looks from the above discussion that Rolfe has submitted postings that disappeared. I have tried that recently too, in 2 or 3 cases.

  11. There is evidence of an explosion as there would be as a result of explosive decompression, but it is the fragment that is presented as ‘evidence’ of an IED deliberately planted to explode!

    The fragment is similar and not the same as the Libyan timer and not a problem for the prosecution if no one challenges the forensics!

    The Heathrow ‘evidence’ is no more than speculation that an ‘unknown suitcase’ must be the ‘bomb case’ as there is ‘no other explanation’, as opposed to a smuggled ‘contraband case’ to avoid customs

  12. No, Dave, there is evidence of an explosion as in explosives. Explosive decompression doesn't produce the damage seen on the suitcase fragments, the fragments of the baggage container, and the associated section of the airframe.

  13. But the point is whether explosive decompression triggered some explosives to explode or a timer?

  14. The detonation of a small improvised explosive device triggered an explosive decompression of the plane due to a simultaneous combination of breaching the hull and catastrophic overpressure.

    There really is no doubt at all about this. Continuing to assert otherwise without even being aware of the evidence that proves what actually happened is pointless time-wasting.

  15. Except without the fragment there is no evidence of an IED, let alone a bomb, deliberately loaded to explode!