Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Slim Virgin and Lockerbie

[What follows is excerpted from an article by Dr Ludwig de Braeckeleer that was published on the OhmyNews website on this date ten years ago:]

The Salinger Investigation of the Pan Am 103 Bombing

Pierre Salinger was White House press secretary to Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Salinger also served as US Senator from California and a campaign manager for Robert Kennedy.

But Salinger is also famous for his investigative journalism. Hired by ABC News as its Paris bureau chief in 1978, he became the network's chief European correspondent in 1983.

During his distinguished career, Salinger broke important stories, such as the secret negotiations by the US government with Iran to free American hostages in 1979-80 and the last meeting between US Ambassador April Glaspie and Saddam Hussein in 1990, during which she led the Iraqi president to believe that the U.S. would not react to an invasion of Kuwait.

Salinger, who was based in London, spent a considerable amount of time and energy investigating the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie. He and his collaborator, John Cooley, hired a young graduate, Linda Mack, to help in the investigation.

"I know that these two Libyans had nothing to do with it. I know who did it and I know exactly why it was done," Salinger said during his testimony at the Zeist trial, where one of the Libyans was convicted of murdering the 270 victims.

"That's all? You're not letting me tell the truth. Wait a minute; I know exactly who did it. I know how it was done," Salinger replied to the trial judge, Lord Sutherland, who simply asked him to leave the witness box.

"If you wish to make a point you may do so elsewhere, but I'm afraid you may not do so in this court," Lord Sutherland interrupted.

Searching for the True Identity of 'Slim Virgin'

Slim Virgin had been voted the most abusive administrator of Wikipedia. She upset so many editors that some of them decided to team up to research her real life identity.

Attempts to track her through Internet technology failed. This is suspicious in itself as the location of normal Internet users can easily be tracked. According to a team member, Slim Virgin "knows her way around the Internet and covered her tracks with care."

Daniel Brandt of the Wikipedia Review and founder of patiently assembled tiny clues about Slim Virgin and posted them on these Web sites. Eventually, two readers identified her. Slim Virgin was no other than Linda Mack, the young graduate Salinger hired.

John K Cooley, the collaborator of Salinger in the Lockerbie investigation, posted the following letter to Brandt on Wikipedia Review, which has been set up to discuss specific editors and editing patterns and general efforts by editors to influence or direct content in ways that might not be in keeping with Wikipedia policy:

“She claimed to have lost a friend/lover on pan103 and so was anxious to clear up the mystery. ABC News paid for her travel and expenses as well as a salary.

“Once the two Libyan suspects were indicted, she seemed to try to point the investigation in the direction of Qaddafi [Libyan President Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi], although there was plenty of evidence, both before and after the trials of Megrahi and Fhimah in the Netherlands, that others were involved, probably with Iran the commissioning power. [In 2001, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison; Lamin Khalifah Fhimah was acquitted.]

“Salinger came to believe that [first name redacted but known to be Linda] was working for [name of intelligence agency redacted but known to be Britain's MI5] and had been from the beginning; assigned genuinely to investigate Pan Am 103, but also to infiltrate and monitor us.”

Soon after Cooley wrote to Brandt, Linda Mack contacted him and asked him not to help Brandt in his efforts to expose her. All doubts about Slim Virgin's true identity had vanished. Today, Linda Mack is rumored to reside in Alberta, Canada, under the name of Sarah McEwan.

[RB: Three months later I made the following brief reference on this blog to a later article on the subject by Dr De Braeckeleer:]

This is a link [RB: the link is now (2017) broken] to an interesting commentary, based on the researches of Dr Ludwig de Braeckeleer, asserting that Wikipedia articles on Pan Am 103 and Lockerbie have been systematically altered by a Wikipedia editor (pseudonym "SlimVirgin" but allegedly identified as Linda Mack -- a well-known name to Lockerbie buffs, and strongly suspected to be a MI5 asset or plant) in order more closely to reflect the "official" UK and US line on the Lockerbie disaster.

[RB: What a hornets' nest I had stirred! See the comments following the blogpost.]


  1. Goodness! How convoluted. All this happened before I began taking a serious interest in Lockerbie and I really had no idea. I didn't pay much attention to the Wikipedia articles on the subject as I could see they were pretty out of date, not having been touched for some time, and in the very nature of things likely to be subject to partisan editing.

    Then imagine my astonishment when certain notorious Lockerbie fruitcakes started declaring that I was Slim Virgin! I'm certainly an unmarried lady and after a successful diet (thanks to Professor Black for his excellent diet tips by the way) fit neatly into size 10 clothes. But I'm not Linda Mack! My few Wikipedia edits (made under my own name) have mainly involved musicology. (Please see the article on Prokofiev's "Alexander Nevsky" film music, including the discovery of which I am particularly proud, and the article on my own mother Anne Sharp. I need to do more work on some of the articles on Benjamin Britten some day.)

    If it's so easy to call me an MI5 operative, when I'm just an ordinary observer with an interest in the case, then I take all such accusations with a large pinch of salt. Miss Mack seems to have a very chequered history (whereas I'm boringly conventional), but there's a great deal of speculation going on. Speculation which isn't necessarily well founded.

    Oddly enough I came across Slm Virgin's Wikipedia activities in an entirely different context, and a more favourable one. A few years ago I was interested in the case of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, victims of the Italian police deciding that the people who called the cops to a murder scene were the most likely perpetrators. It's all now resolved, happily in their favour, but for a time it was quite the cause celebre. The Wikipedia article on that case was the scene of edit wars more vicious than anything described here. The page was effectively taken over by a group of people obsessively punting the proposition that the pair were guilty, and I believe they succeeded in getting some people who believed in innocence banned.

    It got so bad that Jimmy Wales himself intervened and assigned an editor to rewrite the article from the ground up. I first became aware of this when innocence-supporting people on the forum where I was discussing it started to praise the high quality and lucidity of the resulting article - by Slim Virgin! At that point I read the article and it was indeed good, even-handed, and giving due weight to all the reasons to believe that this was a miscarriage of justice (at the time the pair were convicted).

    So she ain't all bad.

  2. More recently I looked again at the wiki article on Pan Am 103 and saw that it was still woefully out of date and didn't seem to have been touched for quite a while. I discussed it with one or two people and made a start on a re-written article which would give better weight to the important facts on the case and eliminate a lot of the verbiage surrounding things that turned out to be either untrue or unimportant, but I ran out of steam.

    Maybe I need to start again. Maybe after I retire....


    MEBO Ltd, is in possession of several recorded telephone conversations, between Edwin Bollier and Linda Mack, from this time-window - but these will not be released or ever published!

    Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Telecommunication Switzerland. Webpage: