Tuesday, 29 June 2021

The Tundergarth drugs suitcase

A persistent rumour relating to the immediate aftermath of the destruction of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie involves the alleged discovery by farmer Jim Wilson at the Tundergarth site of a suitcase containing drugs. 

Here is a snippet from an article in The London Review of Books in 2007: "Jim Wilson, a farmer from the village of Tundergarth, reported shortly after the bombing that he had found in his field a suitcase packed with a powdery substance that looked ‘like drugs’. He last saw the suitcase when he handed it over to the police, he said; he was never asked about it again." And this is from the Morning Star in 2014: "Another farmer at Tundergarth Mains, Jim Wilson, found his fields were littered with bodies and debris from the airliner. The mess included a suitcase, neatly packed with a powdery substance that looked like drugs. Wilson was one of the first witnesses to give evidence when the fatal accident inquiry started in October 1990. Yet no-one asked him about the drugs suitcase."

The Rev'd John Mosey has today kindly provided me with the following account of this fascinating story.

Here is my recollection of events and conversations with farmer Jim Wilson regarding the finding of drugs on his land.

It was Mrs Wilson who first took us across their fields to the spot where our daughter’s body had fallen on land belonging to their close neighbour. This was in the very early days and a warm relationship grew up between us. Whenever we visited Lockerbie we would try to fit in a short visit to the Mains farm.

It was during one of these visits earlier in the year, before the Fatal Accident Inquiry which was held in October 1990 that, while we were drinking tea in the farmhouse kitchen, Jim asked me to go into the sitting room with him as he had something he wanted to tell me. We sat together on the sofa and, with some agitation and emotion, he said that there was something that he needed to tell someone about. I supposed, in a way, to “get it off his chest”.

He told me that one day shortly after the disaster he had come across a suitcase which had landed in either a bed of nettles or of brambles. (I don’t recall which). The lid had sprung open and he said that he was afraid that his animals might get their noses into it. He examined it a bit more closely and found, beneath a small layer of clothing, a broad plastic ‘belt’ (that was the word he used as he showed its approximate dimensions and format with his hands). He said and signified that the ‘belt’ was divided into compartments, each filled with a white powder, and was folded backwards and forwards in the suitcase. He told me that he licked his finger and tasted the powder adding, “it wasn’t sugar”. He continued to tell me that he phoned the police and they sent out a local police officer (he could remember the number on his uniform) accompanied by an American.The American was very angry that this case had been missed. They took it away handcuffed to the police officer’s wrist.

During the Fatal Accident Inquiry, (which I attended) Jim Wilson was questioned but this matter was not raised. I approached the government appointed lawyer who was representing our interests and he took me through the security into the court where I was received by two august gentlemen one of which, I was told, was the senior police officer in charge of the case and the other the Lord Advocate or Procurator Fiscal. (I forget which, but think it was the former.) [RB: John Mosey's description of this person leads me to believe that it was not the then Lord Advocate, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie.] I told them about my conversation with Jim Wilson and asked why this matter had not been raised. I was told that they would send senior officers up to Tundergarth to question Jim about it. Brian Gill QC, our appointed legal representative, said that if I continued to pursue the matter he would cease to represent me.

About a year later, towards the end of 1991 (probably on the 21st December) we visited the Wilsons and I asked Jim about the police visit following the FAI. He replied that they hadn’t been near him. There had been no visit.

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