[Today's edition of The Times contains an article headlined Lockerbie Iran claim was cut from TV interview. It reads in part:]
A filmed discussion between Sir Salman Rushdie and a spokesman for the Lockerbie bombing families “vanished” from a UK broadcast after it was suggested that Iran, rather than Libya, had been responsible for the atrocity.
Dr Jim Swire, a GP who became the public face of the campaign to hold an independent inquiry into the bombing, took part in a live interview with the author of The Satanic Verses on Irish TV.
Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the attack, and Rushdie, who was the subject of a fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, used the platform to argue that the Iranian regime had blood on its hands.
Their interview went out live and uninterrupted on The Late Late Show, a long-running chat show, but newly declassified documents show that it was excised when the programme was later shown on Channel 4. Swire believes that it was removed because of political pressure. (...)
Correspondence between Swire and Douglas Hogg, then a Foreign Office minister, has been opened and placed in the National Archives at Kew. In one letter, from February 1993, Swire wrote: “On the 15th of January I took part in The Late Late Show broadcast live by the Irish RTE TV network.
“Without any forewarning the next guest turned out to be Salman Rushdie, with whom I had some discussion on air concerning the nature of the Iranian regime. It was far from complimentary and was omitted when the programme was rebroadcast on Channel 4 in this country.
“I was impressed by [Rushdie]. The meeting renewed my conviction that Iran had a hand in Flora’s murder.”
Iran was initially suspected of having contracted a Syrian-based terrorist group to carry out the Lockerbie bombing, in revenge for the US downing an Iranian airliner, killing 290 passengers and crew, in July 1988.
However, the US and UK turned their attention to Libya. The intelligence officer Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi remains the only person to be convicted in connection with the atrocity. Mohammed Abouagela Masud, another Libyan suspect, was taken into US custody this month.
Swire, now 86, and other family members continue to believe that crucial evidence was withheld from Megrahi’s trial and that his conviction was wrongful.
“It still seems extraordinary to me that an exclusive interview involving Salman Rushdie — a hugely influential global figure — was removed when the programme was shown to a British audience,” he said. “I can offer no explanation as to why that might have been done. However, I have become accustomed to steps being taken behind the scenes by the authorities to cancel out voices which contradict the official narrative on Lockerbie.”
In 2018, declassified documents emerged showing that Margaret Thatcher had been warned in 1988 that the Lockerbie families were becoming increasingly organised and needed “careful watching”.
Swire and the Rev John Mosey, a church minister who lost his teenage daughter Helga in the bombing, alleged that their phone calls and mail were monitored after they spoke out publicly.
Their stories were corroborated by Dr Hans Koechler, who was appointed by the United Nations as an independent observer at Megrahi’s trial. He said that his computers had been accessed and data was removed after he had compiled reports on the case.