[Today's edition of the Daily Mirror newspaper contains a long article headlined 'My 32-year worldwide fight for justice for the girl I lost in Lockerbie bombing'. It reads in part:]
The one thing Jim Swire treasures the most also causes him the most pain. A 50-year-old tape recording, now transferred on to a compact disc, and carefully stored away in a special drawer in his Oxfordshire house.
In it, Jim is singing along with and his seven-year-old daughter Flora as she plays the guitar during an idyllic break on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. (...)
Flora had been flying to the US to spend Christmas with her boyfriend, and from where she planned to surprise her parents with the news she had been accepted for a coveted place to complete her medical training at Cambridge University.
But she never got to do either. Thirty-eight minutes into the long-haul flight, the airliner exploded as it flew 31,000ft over Lockerbie, killing all 259 people on board and 11 people on the ground. (...)
His world suddenly torn apart by grief, Jim, a GP, was determined to find answers, and set off on an unforgiving journey that would take him all around the world – including inside the desert tent of Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi.
More than 32 years later, and now aged 85, Jim is finally releasing a full account of all he discovered in a new book, The Lockerbie Bombing. His memoirs are also being made into a TV series, released next year. (...)
Jim dealt with his grief by spending every waking hour searching for information. And it wasn’t long before he began to suspect a cover up.
First, he came across a communication sent from German police to the British government in October 1988 - two months before the attack, warning that Palestinian terrorists were planning to explode a bomb on a plane heading to the US.
The information came after the arrest of a Palestinian bomb maker Marwan Khreesat, who was later released by a German judge.
Next, he discovered a classified telex sent by the then British transport secretary James Jack to Heathrow airport, two days before the bombing, with a photo of the type of bomb they believed would be used, hidden inside a radio cassette player to make it difficult to detect on X-ray equipment.
Incredibly, the message told airport staff that if they had suspicions about any object it should be “consigned to the aircraft hold” – exactly where the Lockerbie bomb exploded.
Jim also discovered that, days before the disaster, a notice had been put up in the US embassy in Moscow warning staff of a threat to Pan Am aircraft in the run up to Christmas and advising them to rebook with another airline. (...)
Jim’s investigations led him to believe the Lockerbie bombing was actually ordered by Iran, in retaliation for an incident in July 1988, when American warship The Vincennes destroyed an aircraft in flight containing 290 pilgrims on their way to Mecca.
He believes Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who publicly swore revenge, commissioned a Palestinian group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [-General Command], to take down an American plane.
He thinks that, despite knowing the truth, the US and the UK decided to blame Libya, an oil-rich country which was in America’s sights.
Convinced that Libya, and Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing in January 2001, wasn’t behind his daughter’s murder, Jim has visited the country, meeting Colonel Gaddafi several times and making friends with al-Megrahi.
Of his first meeting with Gaddafi, who was overthrown and killed in 2011, he says: “I was terrified. A GP from the middle of England shaking hands with the man who was supposed to be the devil incarnate. We met in his tent in the middle of the desert.
"We were surrounded by his female bodyguards holding AK47s and as I went over to him I could hear the safety catches all clicking off. We got on and even became friends.”
Does he now have all the answers he was so desperate to find? “Yes, but I don’t have the ability to do what I feel is desperately important to be done with those answers.
“I would love to go and talk to the Ayatollahs in Iran, and the men they used, and tell them I forgive them and explain why.