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Adequately explained by stupidity?

Posted on January 03, 2013 by

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie should be commended for starting 2013 with a legitimate request rather than a party-political attack. The Herald today reports his renewed call for a public inquiry into the events of the Lockerbie disaster.

The call was prompted by the new Libyan government’s pledge to release documents relating to the incident “as soon as time, security and stability permitted”. But what will such documents reveal beyond what we already know?

Tam Dalyell once said that the Lockerbie case is so complicated you’d need to be a Professor of Lockerbie Studies to understand it. In some ways that’s true, because there are interminable complications, wrinkles and what-ifs to consider. But there’s a simple way of looking at it too, and that is this: Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted because the police firmly believed the bomb that destroyed Pan Am 103 began its journey at Malta airport around nine o’clock on the morning of the disaster. Megrahi, who was suggested as a potential suspect by the CIA, was discovered to have been catching a plane from Malta to Tripoli that was open for check-in at precisely that time.

If the bomb really did fly from Malta, then it might be reasonable to regard Megrahi with a suspicious eye. But the evidence for the bomb ever having been within a thousand miles of the island of Malta is beyond tenuous, and Megrahi was never shown to have done anything at the airport that morning apart from catch his flight home. If the bomb was introduced somewhere else, he actually has a rather good alibi.

The biggest mystery of the entire saga is why the police persisted in their absolute conviction that the bomb had travelled on an Air Malta flight to Frankfurt, despite months and indeed years of investigation finding no evidence of anything untoward at the airport that morning, and in fact no way an unaccompanied suitcase could have been smuggled on board that plane. This is even more surprising when you realise that within only weeks of the disaster, the investigation had very strong evidence indicating that the bomb had actually been smuggled into a baggage container at Heathrow airport, an hour before the feeder flight from Frankfurt landed.

In early January 1989 a baggage handler at Heathrow described having seen a suitcase which he said had appeared mysteriously while he was away on a tea break, on the (previously bare) floor of the container in question, in the corner known by the investigators to be where the explosion had happened. He described the suitcase as a brown hardshell Samsonite. By mid-February, forensic examination had identified the suitcase containing the bomb as a brown plastic hardshell, and by March they knew it was a Samsonite.

The absence of any rejoicing at this point is positively spooky. Rather than pursuing this lead vigorously, the police more or less ignored it. Everyone seemed to be waiting for the forensic results to declare that the explosion had been in a suitcase on the second layer of luggage, and sure enough, the boffins concluded that’s probably how it was. There had been nothing on top of the mystery item before the Frankfurt luggage was added, therefore the bomb suitcase must have been one of the ones that came in on the feeder flight. The investigation remained stalled at this stage for months, until in August a tenuous lead was identified at Frankfurt which sent the police chasing off to Malta, and they never looked back.

The question that was never answered was this. Whose was the mystery suitcase loaded into the container while John Bedford was on his tea break, if it wasn’t the bomb?  The police seemed happy to leave that one hanging. That suitcase didn’t matter, because it was in the wrong place. By about two inches. That line of reasoning held up all through the initial stages of the investigation, and the Fatal Accident Inquiry in Dumfries in 1990-91. Bomb on second layer, no Heathrow-origin luggage on second layer, therefore bomb arrived from Frankfurt. This of course presupposed that the Heathrow-origin luggage had not been moved, but the baggage handler who loaded the suitcases from the feeder flight, Amarjit Sidhu, was adamant he hadn’t moved anything, so that was all right.

The problem with this is that it’s impossible. A suitcase under the bomb suitcase would inevitably have been pulverised. All six pieces of luggage identified as being legitimately placed in that container at Heathrow were recovered, and none of them sustained that sort of damage. Not only that, when the explosion ripped apart the bomb suitcase and the luggage in its immediate vicinity, it created a well-stirred mix of fragments which scattered across the countryside. The searchers combed the fields for these fragments, and the forensics team singled them out for special attention.

Numerous pieces of even the most severely damaged items were recovered in this way, and everything in that category (apart from the bomb suitcase itself) was known, legitimate Heathrow and Frankfurt passenger luggage. There was no sign of any innocent (even if unidentified) suitcase in the mix that might have been loaded at Heathrow and ended up below the bomb suitcase, brown Samsonite hardshell or not. So, if Sidhu hadn’t moved Bedford’s mystery suitcase, and the explosion had been in the case on top of Bedford’s case – well, the laws of physics look like they’re in a bit of trouble.

Putting it simply, both planks of the 1989 police reasoning cannot simultaneously be true. If Sidhu didn’t move the Heathrow-origin luggage, as was believed in 1989, then the Bedford suitcase (on the floor of the container) must have been the bomb, because there’s nothing else for it to be. If there is absolutely no wiggle-room at all for the bomb suitcase to have been on the floor of the container, then Sidhu must have moved the Bedford case – which demolishes the argument used in 1989 to exclude that case from being in the second layer, and again leaves the possibility of its being the bomb wide open.

The only brown Samsonite hardshell suitcase seen by any witness, which had appeared mysteriously in almost the exact position of the explosion, and which the police knew about less than three weeks after the disaster, was ruled out on  the basis on an absolute logical impossibility.

Once this paradox is identified, the crucial dilemma is clear. Which is less credible?  Sidhu’s statement that he didn’t move the Heathrow-origin luggage, or the forensic conclusion that the bomb suitcase had been on the second layer?  Because one of these is simply wrong.

Sidhu was absolutely consistent over three separate police statements that he definitely didn’t move that luggage. Then in the witness box in Dumfries, under oath, he emphatically and specifically denied having lifted out one of the original items and replaced it on a different layer. And there’s no reason why he should have done anything like that. The feeder flight was late, leaving him only 15 minutes for a job he normally had half an hour to complete; it was dark, cold, raining and blowing a gale; and the original items were already well positioned. Why on earth would he have started heaving cases he didn’t need to heave?

In contrast, the best estimate for the height of the explosion was ten inches above the floor of the container. The bomb suitcase was nine inches deep, but what’s the margin of error in that estimate anyway?  It’s also far from impossible that the stacked luggage shifted a few inches due to in-flight turbulence or even banking, moving the bottom suitcase into the position indicated. There were other factors of course, including an examination of the bashed-up and fragmented aluminium base of the container somewhat akin to Mystic Meg reading a palm, but it was all subjective opinion. The bomb suitcase certainly must have been either the case on the bottom of the stack or the one on top of it, and on balance the forensics boffins thought it was the upper one of the two, but that’s as far as it goes.

So what was the court’s decision on this point? That’s a tricky one. In actual fact the court at Camp Zeist was never made aware just how crucial an issue this was, and the bench merely accepted, “for the purposes of this argument” that the bomb suitcase had been on the second layer. How that came about, and John Bedford’s extraordinarily suspicious brown Samsonite hardshell came to be wafted airily to “some more remote corner of the container”, is a whole other article in itself.

But now here we are, in 2012. Megrahi’s second appeal (begun in 2009) centred mainly on the undermining of the eye-witness evidence said to have identified him as the man who bought the clothes packed in the suitcase with the bomb. While that argument was likely to have succeeded if he hadn’t dropped the appeal, it didn’t address the question of the route of the bomb suitcase. Did it fly from Malta, or was it introduced directly at Heathrow?

The ongoing Lockerbie investigation, paid for from our taxes, has been convinced that the bomb flew in from Malta since September 1989. It’s still convinced that Megrahi was “the Lockerbie bomber”, even if there is doubt about his having been the purchaser of the clothes. Why not? He was at the airport when the bomb was smuggled on to the Air Malta flight. He must have been involved! The ongoing investigation believes he didn’t act alone, though, and is determined to track down his supposed accomplices.

We’ve been hearing about investigations in Libya almost since the day of Gaddafi’s death. More than one Libyan official, anxious to curry favour with the Western powers, has claimed to have evidence of Gadaffi having ordered Megrahi to carry out the atrocity. All this has come to nothing. Now the investigators have turned their attention to Malta in the quest for the elusive “accomplices”, though what they imagine they’re going to find there after 24 years that the original investigation didn’t find in 1989-91 is difficult to understand.

When they find absolutely nothing on Malta, as they found absolutely nothing in Libya, is it too much to hope that some young, smart, entirely reconstructed detective might sit down and consider: could the reason we haven’t been able to find anything possibly be because we’re looking in the wrong place?

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250 to “Adequately explained by stupidity?”

  1. Craig says:

    Well done Morag and the Rev.

    Another excellent and well written article from this excellent site.
    Keep them coming

  2. Cameron says:

    Don’t hold your breath for an impartial investigation. The world is still expected to believe that two airliners managed to knock down three steel framed skyscrapers on 9/11, at almost free-fall speed. Despite this requiring the suspension of three laws of physics, numerous eye-witness reports of massive explosions prior to the impact of the planes, and the discovery of highly sophisticated military grade explosives contaminating the entire ground zero site. Interestingly, the chemical composition of the explosives ties it’s manufacture to the US’s on military research institution, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

  3. Morag says:

    Re. the previous post, I despair.  I think I’ll just go and cry quietly in a corner now, if that’s OK.

  4. Macart says:

    Excellent article and examination Morag.

    More please.

  5. commenter says:

    Cameron, Lockerbie was done by the same Jewish space lizards that faked the moon landings, right?

    It’s obvious when you think about it because “steel doesn’t burn”. 

  6. Morag says:

    OK, maybe I should explain that last remark.

    What got me investigating Lockerbie in detail was the fallout from being involved in a series of discussions with 9/11 “truthers” such as Cameron appears to be.  The depth of delusion and wilful refusal to look at the actual evidence was practically beyond belief.  After realising that I was wasting hours I’d never get back arguing with the terminally incompetent, I started wondering about Lockerbie.

    I had been reading about doubts about the Lockerbie verdict since the day it was delivered.  Journalists I respected, like Ian Bell, expressed such doubts.  How could only one of the two “conspirators” have been found guilty, when the other’s involvement was essential to the plot as described having been done at all?  I wondered, though, if this was in fact another example of the 9/11 insanity, and perhaps the conviction was sound after all if investigated with an open mind.

    The rest, if not history yet, will hopefully become history.

  7. commenter says:

    Expressing despair at troofers needs no explanation Morag 🙂

  8. Morag says:

    Macart said:
    More please.

    There is more, as it happens.  Quite a lot more.  That was meant to be the first of at least two articles, if it went down well enough.  However it was written a couple of months ago, at a time when the Scottish investigators appeared to be turning their attention from Libya to Malta in their efforts to defend the indefensible.  However the Malta investigation wasn’t reported in the Scottish press at all as far as I know, and RevStu wisely decided to hold the article back at the time.  Now they’re back in Libya, still looking for something that simply isn’t there.

    How did the prosecution at Camp Zeist manage to persuade the judges that the case seen at Heathrow wasn’t the bomb?  What else did they mangle and misrepresent, in order to get an innocent man locked up for life?  It’s a nasty story.

  9. Cameron says:

    @ commenter

    Ad hominem attacks show you have no argument. Have you looked at any of the evidence I refer to, or do you just take the word of the BBC? Have you forgotten the BBC announced the collapse of WTC7, 20 minutes before it fell. When News 24 broadcasted the announcement, WTC7 was clearly visible behind the presenter.

    I do not want to go way off topic, as this blog is concerned with Scotland’s future. But Scotland does not live in a vacuum, and I despair at the number of voters who appear to believe that governments do not commit violence against civilian populations. Has you forgotten about Operation Gladio, a 30 year NATO campaign of terror attacks across Europe, which was then blamed on communist terrorists like the Red Brigade. You don’t need to take my word for it, as the conspiracy was publicly recognized by Italian Prime minister, Giulio Andreotti, on 24 October 1990.

  10. Luigi says:

    You would be surprised how many lives are lost, how many innocent people in the world are condemned by government action/inaction, all for the sake of saving face. Then again, maybe you wouldn’t. The judges at Camp Zeist who made that awful decision still have a case to answer.

  11. Macart says:


    I seem to recall Air Malta sued Granada TV over their coverage of the Maltese argument and won, proving along the way, the impossibility of the dubious luggage transfer theory. You’d have thought that this settlement alone would have blown a hole in the Crown’s case and started the ball rolling on a fresh investigation. 

  12. Morag says:

    Not really.  The Air Malta case was settled out of court.  Granada TV looked at the evidence provided by Air Malta, and caved.  Interesting, but not what you’d call a precedent.

  13. Cameron says:

    @ Macart

    Excellent point. I also agree with you about the quality of Morag’s examination. However, I am somewhat surprised at the hostility shown to my earlier post, as both yourself and Morag seam to be saying that the official position can not physically be possible.

  14. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Cameron: I’m not making any judgement on anything you say about 9/11, as I haven’t looked into the matter in any detail. I’d merely ask you not to discuss it further here, as it’s off-topic in every possible way and will only serve to derail discussion of Dr Kerr’s excellent analysis of Lockerbie. Likewise, I’d ask anyone else not to respond on the subject. We will not resolve the issue here, so let’s stick to the matter at hand.

  15. Morag says:

    Cameron, I’d take it very kindly if you’d just shut up about the Twin Towers.  There are several gazillion articles and discussion about that matter all over the web, for anyone who is interersted.  Can we please have a discussion about Lockerbie, and specifically about the subject of the article, which is the evidence for the bomb having been introduced at Heathrow rather than Malta?

  16. Cameron says:

    @ Rev. Stuart Campbell

    I understand and won’t mention it again.

  17. DougtheDug says:

    When they find absolutely nothing on Malta, as they found absolutely nothing in Libya, is it too much to hope that some young, smart, entirely reconstructed detective might sit down and consider: could the reason we haven’t been able to find anything possibly be because we’re looking in the wrong place?

    If the bomb was planted in London not Malta then the question of who planted it and why raises its ugly head again. I’ve long suspected that the Malta link was useful to the west because it tied the bomb firmly to Libya. 

    If that was the sole reason to focus on the Malta connection it implies that the trial and its outcome were driven entirely by politicians who wanted to put pressure on Gadaffi. In other words it was a show trial. It doesn’t mean Gaddafi didn’t do it, it just means that his guilt was decided before the trial and the evidence used in the trial was then selected to conform to that outcome. Anything which could throw doubt on that outcome was ignored.

    I doubt the truth will ever get out because that would severely damage the reputation of the justice system in Scotland and the politicians and governments who warped it.

  18. Cameron says:

    @ Morag

    I understand that the subject is way off topic, but why the hostility? If you look at our positions on the two matters, they are not that dissimilar.

  19. Macart says:


    Shame, I couldn’t remember the details of the case, but was aware that Granada took a hit over it. Still, same evidence supplied by Air Malta in that civil case should still apply to any new investigation. If their evidence categorically proved no transfer possible then it truly is the elephant in the room.

  20. Morag says:

    The evidence categorically proved it didn’t happen.  That evidence was led at Camp Zeist.  The Air Malta station manager Wilfred Borg spent hours in the witness box explaining their unique and highly effective system, and could not be shaken.  Then right at the end he was asked, so can you say it is absolutely impossible for your system to be circumvented.  He replied, well, nothing’s impossible, but how it could be done is another matter.

    The judges seem simply to have ignored everything else he said, and ticked “could have happened”.  In fact while I can think of at least three ways that system could be circumvented, I cannot think of any way at all it could have been circumvented in repect of KM180 that morning and leave no evidence to show it had been done at all.  All possible methods, while they might work at the time, would leave evidence behind to show what had happened.  This point was never explored in court.

    The judges simply said, in their written report, “The absence of any explanation of the method by which the primary suitcase might have been placed on board KM180 is a major difficulty for the Crown case, and one which has to be considered along with the rest of the circumstantial evidence in the case.”  They gave no hint at all as to how they overcame that “major difficulty”.

    At the appeal, it got worse.  During the actual appeal hearings, Lord Osborne said, “But is it not a different matter to say, on the basis of these features of the situation, that the bomb passed through Luqa Airport, standing that there is considerable and quite convincing evidence that that could not have happened.” He further stated: “Now, it’s quite difficult rationally to follow how the Court take the step of saying, ‘Well, we don’t know how it got onto the flight. We can’t say that. But it must have been there.’ On the face of it, it may not be a rational conclusion.”  (I quote Hans Kochler’s report on the appeal.)

    However, when the appeal judgement was issued, none of these reservations were expressed.  The text reads: “Those records [at Frankfurt] demonstrated the carriage of an unaccompanied bag from Malta on flight KM180. The evidence of Mr Borg did not rule out the possibility of that happening. It was to be remembered that the Crown case was that the security measures at Luqa had been deliberately circumvented by a criminal act.”

    Note the comment about Mr. Borg’s evidence.  Again, that single answer at the end was held to trump his hours of patient explanation that really, it didn’t happen.  The Frankfurt records show nothing of the sort.  There is an unexplained luggage tray in there associated with KM180, but it was only one of more than a dozen unexplained luggage trays, and three flights which didn’t have any legitimate luggage for PA103A on them.  The Frankfurt police fouled up the investigation so badly I doubt if we’ll ever know what most of that luggage actually was.

  21. G H Graham says:

    The explanation of the response to the Lockerbie bombing will be found in the minutes, notes and secret archives of the US and British governments with particular regard to Iran and Syria and of course Libya.

    Just like Iraq, Libya was the fall guy which permitted the US and British Government to justify an intervention then coersion when they realised that direct intervention (bombing) wasn’t working.

    And the motive? Access to energy in a country considered relatively easy to corece of course. That was not the case in Iran or Syria, allies of the then, Soviet Union. The risks of escalation at that time were too great so Libya was the default choice. That it was also rich in untapped oil wells made the justification simple.

    The investigation and trial of Magrahi was a sophistocated smokescreen. I remain convinced that it was the Iranians who planted the bomb under direction of Syria or vice versa. Why didnt the US or Britsih governments retaliate? The reason not to was based upon political and energy relationships similar to that with Saudi Arabia. It was no surprise that Saudi was off limits after Sep 11, 2001 even though 12 out of 14 terrorists came from there. A military response was not viable because of the need to maintain and secure energy supplies not only for the US but for the world. Economic instability would have ensued, reducing the resiliance of the USA and possibly encouraging a Communist uprising against the West.

    Thus, an argument was made to use Iraq then Afghanistan to demonstrate the consequences of attacking US citizens and infrastructure. The collateral, economic damage was considered small. But the message for loud and clear; attack America and you will be invaded and killed.

    Regime modification or change in Libya was also considered low risk and potentially beneficial so the search for a culprit was established and Megrahi was an easy, convenient target.

    The original motive for blowing up the PanAm jet in my opinion was a simple retaliatory action to the US attack on a civilian airliner that belonged to Iran a few years previous. The impact of it was used though by the USA and British governments as a means to alter the access and control of energy supplies coming out of North Africa.

    The whole saga is actually a simple story of western governments using events to further their own economic interests. If folks wish to get hung up on conspiracy theories, they’ll be turned around until they are dizzy. Yes, governments did conspire but the logic and motives are very straight forward. And it’s only a matter of time before the next sorry saga unfolds.      
    Don’t like what your government does on your behalf?

    Grow your own potatoes and invest in a windmill. 

  22. Macart says:

    Thanks for that answer Morag, almost an article in itself. 🙂

    Basically it boils down to the Crown deliberately ignoring evidence of an actual circumvention of security at heathrow in favour of a supposed breach of security at Luqa in order to support the tenuous Crown case. This argument would surely be destroyed in light of subsequent court based events and the points made by the SCCRC report. It beggars belief that no one in current law enforcement is willing to carry this investigation further along these lines of inquiry. As far as we are led to believe the case is still meant to be active.

  23. Morag says:

    The question of the route of the bomb has always seemed to me to be central, particularly after reading Paul Foot’s article about the trial.  If it was indeed introduced at Malta, then someone did it, and Megrahi was there.  Clearly there wasn’t sufficient evidence to show that he was the guy who did it, and he should never have been convicted, but you’d still be left wondering.  Conversely if the bomb was introduced at Heathrow in the afternoon, he has a far far better alibi for the crime than I have (I was less than 50 miles from Heathrow that afternoon, as I lived in Sussex at the time).

    However, the SCCRC report says right at the start that nobody asked them to consider the route of the bomb, so they didn’t.  That was the point when I felt like going out and shooting myself.  Or shooting somebody, anyway.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the Lockerbie investigation deliberately ignored the evidence of the bomb at Heathrow, right at the start.  They had enough evidence for the Heathrow introduction by mid-February if not before to send any normal investigation into ecstacies.  Boyd and Orr should have been hot on the trail, with visions of promotion and the Honours List floating before their eyes.  Except they didn’t.  They buried the evidence and insisted the bomb must have been on the feeder flight.

  24. Macart says:

    This uncomfortable truth won’t go away Morag and strangely we have the current debate opposition to thank for this. In their attempts to destroy credibility in the SG the likes of Lamont, Rennie and Davidson have used the Lockerbie tragedy liberally, keeping it well in the public eye. I suspect this may prove to be the political error of the decade as it will undoubtedly rebound on Westminster especially. It may well prove to be no bad thing that those who have used it for cynical political point scoring will be responsible for bringing the case back to the public notice.

  25. Cameron says:

    @ Macart & Morag

    If the bomb was introduced at Heathrow, who could possibly have had access to do this?

  26. Vronsky says:

    I was surprised when no WMD were found in Iraq – not because I thought they were there but because I was sure they’d very quickly be put there.  I hope I’m equally surprised when the police investigations in Libya are concluded but I have a feeling that they are only waiting for the ink to dry on the required incriminating documents. 
    I find it rather disconcerting that we may be about to enter upon independence in a country whose judicial system is corrupt at the highest level and routinely manipulated by the security services of a foreign power.
    Copernicus wisely ensured that his theory that the earth was not the centre of the universe would not be published until after his death.  He suspected that the mathematics would be rejected on purely theological grounds.  Plus ça change…

  27. Morag says:

    Cameron –

    Pretty much anybody with the intent to do so.  Heathrow security at the time was absolutely abysmal.  Everyone concerned freely admitted that anyone dressed in the right clothes and looking as if he knew were he was going could go where he liked airside and put suitcases anywhere he liked.  There were also many hundreds of airside passes unaccounted for at the time – I think it actually ran to a couple of thousand.

    So it wouldn’t have been hard to get hold of an airside pass, and I would imagine that authentic-looking baggage handlers’ overalls would be even easier.  Would it have been possible to carry a suitcase containing a bomb through airside security like that?

    They wouldn’t have had to.  There was a break-in into the airside area in question about 16 hours before the mysterious brown Samsonite appeared in the container.  A securlty guard found a padlock “cut like butter” and reported it.  His report was filed and no action was taken.

    Nobody in the Lockerbie investigation ferreted this out, but in late January 1989 the BAA management reported the break-in to the Met because they believed it was their duty to bring to the attention of the police something that might be relevant to the inquiry.  The Met contacted Lockerbie and passed on the information.  Lockerbie then got back to the Met and said, would you mind taking a statement from this chap?  As a result, a DC from the Met interviewed Raymond Manly on 31st January, and passed his statement to Lockerbie.

    At Lockerbie the statement was entered into HOLMES on 2nd February, and considered to be of no importance or relevance.  It was never referred to again.  Ray Manly was not called to give evidence at the Fatal Accident Inquiry in 1990.  His evidence never formed part of the narrative of the case.  The statement was not disclosed to Megrahi’s defence.

    My own view is that it’s likely the terrorist gang committed the break-in and secreted the suitcase airside, then withdrew to see whether anybody reacted.  When nothing happened, someone entered in the usual way with a stolen pass, retrieved the case, and placed it in the container.

    I think there was inside knowledge, because the container that was used was an absolute gift to anyone with evil intent who knew about it.  It routinely sat there all afternoon, without much attention being paid to it, gathering odd suitcases piecemeal for the evening flight.  But you’d need to know about it.  I think knowledge of somewhere suitable to coneal the suitcase would have been important, also mundane knowledge of the airside layout to allow the terrorist to act as if he knew his way about.  But thanks to the absolute failure to initiate even the most basic investigation into any of this, we have no specifics.

  28. Morag says:


    What I don’t understand is why the Scottish media are so reluctant nowadays to publish anything questioning Megrahi’s guilt, whereas they were perfectly happy to do so in the past – certainly while he was still in prison.  I’d have thought there was some fruitful SNP-bashing in there, criticising their stone-walling of the calls for an inquiry, and more particularly Kenny MacAskill’s recent insistence that Justice for Megrahi’s allegations of criminal behaviour on the part of those investigating Lockerbie be reported to the very police force the allegations are against – and then turning the Crown Office loose on it, with the Crown Office being the other major accused party.  Even Salmond and MacAskill’s repeated insistence that they don’t doubt the safety of the conviction could be pilloried.

    But no.  Anything taking it as read that the bomb started from Malta and was planted by some Libyan or other is printed uncritically.  Any challenge to this is ignored to death.

    Right now, although Rennie is calling for an inquiry, it seems to be in relation to assumed Libyan guilt.  In which case I’m not sure why he wants an inquiry.  Nobody has clean hands on this any more.  The Conservatives were in government at the time of the original botched investigation.  Labour was in government at the time of the kangaroo court in the Netherlands, and of course it was a Labour/LibDem coalition in Holyrood at the time.  And the SNP were in government when Megrahi was leaned on to drop his appeal, and they are steadfastly ignoring the problems with the conviction just like the rest of them.

    I think it’s anybody’s guess who it will rebound on now.

  29. Cameron says:

    You have obviously put a lot of work in to your investigation, which is commendable. Less commendable though is your apparent willingness to jump to the conclusion that it was a terrorist gang who infiltrated Heathrow’s security.

    Firstly, the experience of Operation Gladio has shown that the authorities are both willing and capability of conducting terrorist atrocities against their own civilian populations. Secondly, Operation Gladio has shown us that it is virtually impossible to distinguish between state sponsored terrorism, and that of a more freelance nature.

    I do not claim to know who the guilty party is and do not think the truth will be volunteered in our lifetimes. You may consider me to be paranoid, but I do not subscribe to Accum’s Razor. All the best and thank you.

    @ Vronsky

    même vieux même vieux


  30. Morag says:

    I was actually invoking Hanlon’s Razor, not Occam’s.

  31. Cameron says:

    @ Morag

    How can you apply Hanlon’s Razor in this circumstance. That’s just like turning a a very trusting blind eye?

  32. Vronsky says:

    “What I don’t understand is why the Scottish media are so reluctant nowadays to publish anything questioning Megrahi’s guilt, whereas they were perfectly happy to do so in the past”

    It’s because someone has ordained it so, someone who can command the Scottish criminal justice system and overrule the Scottish Government. 

    When the SNP won an overall majority it seemed inevitable to me that the framing of Megrahi would be blown wide open in days rather than weeks.  The SNP had (apparently) nothing to do with the fiasco, and here was a wonderful opportunity to reveal the true nature of London/Washington politics and their Scottish proxies.  Picture my deepening bewilderment when nothing happened, then happened again, then kept happening.  Que pasa?  The SNP had the ball at its feet in front of an open goal, but turned and walked away.

    This affair has very deep and serious implications for independence.  How independent can we ever be if we cannot expect justice from our legal system or redress from our government?  Who is calling the shots?  It sure ain’t us.

  33. Cameron says:

    @ Morag

    It is also the same rational that the 9/11 inquiry used to explain the events of that dreadful day.

  34. Cameron says:

    @ Vronsky

    Please do not get me wrong, I have been a life long supporter of independence. However, you can not overlook the fact that the SNP is just another political party. They are not going to invite the mass cognitive dissonance such an investigation would result in.

  35. Morag says:


    I share your disquiet about the criminal justice system in our country.  It scares me rigid.  Shirley McKee was exonerated and received £750,000, but where was the investigation into the appalling treatment she received, and the absolutely blatant attempts to pervert the course of justice which occurred?

    I also note with quiet despair that it was the SNP government, in one of its first acts in 2007, which shut down the entire affair by settling with Shirley out of court for the full amount of damages claimed.  Nice for Shirley and I say that in all sincerity because the poor woman suffered enough, but not so nice for those of us who would have liked to see a thorough investigation of the affair.

    The SNP is also doing a seriously bad job in its handling of criminal justice matters in general.  The Cadder legislation is appallingly badly-conceived.  The abolition of the prohibition on double jeopardy is seriously scary.  The proposal to eliminate the requirement for corroboration is even more scary, in the context of Scots Law.  I can see where the people talking about a police state are coming from.

    When Shirley McKee made allegations of criminality against a number of people involved in fitting her up over the fingerprint matter, Jack McConnell who was FM at the time did the right thing.  He passed her complaint to Grampian police, who were uninvolved, and they investigated it impartially.  It broke the log-jam and eventually as we know she was exonerated.

    Justice for Megrahi have done the same thing as regards the Lockerbie affair.  Eight separate allegations against individuals and bodies involved in both the investigation and the Camp Zeist prosecution were lodged, first in a summary form with Kenny MacAskill in September, asking him to appoint an independent body (possibly an uninvolved police force) to investigate out complete dossier.  JFM was peremptorily told that it wasn’t up to the Justice Secretary to investigate anything (he had not been asked to investigate anything) and to send the complete dossier to the Dumfries and Galloway police force.  Precisely the police force which was being accused of misconduct.  He also showed the letter to the Crown Office, despite a request to distance himself from the CO over the matter (because obviously the CO was also being accused of misconduct), and allowed the Lord Advocate to insult and defame the JFM committee in the pages of the Scotsman.

    The dossier was indeed supplied to the D&G, as there seemed to be no alternative.  That was nearly two months ago, and JFM has received no response at all to it.  However Frank Mulholland has indulged in another couple of public rants in the press calling us conspiracy theorists and accusing us of making allegations we have not in fact made.

    This is not a healthy situation, and the SNP is far from blameless in this.  But what can we do?  I don’t see the Union sorting out our criminal justice system.  Indeed, it is arguably the case that the Union is partly responsible, in leaving a judiciary first without a legislature, and then with a hog-tied legislature.

    I’ve wanted independence for my country since before that plane fell out of the sky, and been an SNP member since before there was any serious concern that the wrong people had been indicted.  It’s a bit odd the way the two subjects have collided, but there it is.  I’m not going to vote No just because the SNP is making a complete hash of Lockerbie and wider criminal justice issues.  It might affect the way I vote post-independence in 2016 though.

  36. Macart says:

    I suspect this may have more to do with expediency than anything else as far as the media are concerned. Official line is guilty and convicted, safe and unequivocal as a soundbite, that’s the current state of affairs. Unofficial line is too much doubt to throw your hat in the ring with any politically fractious view at the moment and certainly no in-depth investigative journalism. I believe that they, much like you and I, know that this story is far from ended and any hard and fast TV rocking  of the political line may come back to bite the programmer on the proverbial. So they’ll keep it to that well worn phrase ‘the convicted Lockerbie bomber’. Internationally its also a very hot potato and I’m guessing that nobody wants to be seen to be the one to kick off what will inevitably be the legal stooshie of the next decade.

    As far as the current SG are concerned, on this issue I’m a little disappointed, but I believe both political and diplomatic expediency also may have had some bearing here.

  37. Morag says:

    As regards Hanlon’s Razor, please note the question mark at the end of the title of the article.  I think it’s very hard to attribute everything that happened to stupidity, and probably impossible.  However, it’s my preferred stating point, and I think it’s a sound one.

    If stupidity is not an adequate explanation, then we move on.

  38. Vronsky says:

    I’ve followed the the Lockerbie Case quite closely for a long time, read Megrahi:You are my Jury, and drop in daily to Robert Black QC’s blog on the case.  I wrote a (rather hasty) review of Alan Clark’s play for that blog, link here.

    I’m a long-time SNP member and former constituency chairman, and will vote ‘yes’ in 2014.  But it’s very worrying.  Even if we get independence I think we will be confronted by our own Augean Stables.

  39. Morag says:

    In an earlier post, Vronsky, you obliquely raised the possibility of evidence miraculously “appearing” in Libya to implicate Megrahi in the bombing.  I have also speculated that this might happen, but not necessarily that the UK or US spooks would plant it.

    Right now the new Libyan government is anxious to pin the blame for everything up to and probably including global warming on Gaddafi.  While their initial reaction was to deny that Libya had anything to do with Lockerbie, more devious players like al-Jalil realised that one way to gain merit points with the US and Britain was to assist them in their evident desire to find more evidence to blame Gaddafi.  They seem to have understood that this would be OK so long as all the blame could be laid at the feet of the previous regime.

    I think, however, if they tried that their efforts would be so poor as to be utterly transparent.  So if actual credible evidence does emerge then indeed I would start wondering who had helped them with the task.  Nevertheless I question what evidence would be credible under the circumstances, when we now know for a fact that the bomb was introduced at Heathrow and not at Malta.  I also question whether they would risk it, given the amount of scrutiny anything like that would be subjected to.

  40. Morag says:

    Vronsky, I know you from Robert Black’s blog, and have read all your posts there.  I agree entirely.  I think we will have a job on our hands post-independence to sort out this mess, but I think we need the powers of independence to do it.

    If we fail in 2014, I think the Scottish criminal justice system and indeed the individuality of Scots Law within the UK will fall.  I think we’ll be manipulated from Westminster and there will be bugger-all we can do about it.  If we have an independent parliament in Holyrood, we can aye peeble them wi stanes.

  41. Macart says:


    Agreed, I’m hoping that with independence our parliament will be free to take a fresh look at revisiting the un-redacted SCCRC report and hopefully instigating the call for a new inquiry.

  42. Vronsky says:

    ” I have also speculated that this might happen, but not necessarily that the UK or US spooks would plant it.”
    Agreed.  I think the Libyans will see this as a way of currying favour.  Certainly they have very strong incentives to turn up something, anything.  Consequently anything they present should be viewed with a great deal of caution, but I’m sure we’ll see no such caution.  Reminds me a bit of the ‘documents’ that were purportedly found in Iraq, implicating George Galloway in the oil-for-bribes scandal.


  43. Morag says:

    Macart, the SCCRC report was a bit of a whitewash in itself.  The intent seemed to be to bring the thing to an end by killing off the Gauci eyewitness evidence.  As Kochler said, they were going to lay all the blame for the miscarriage of justice at the feet of a Maltese shopkeeper.

    The result of that would have been to allow the authorities to go on claiming that they had been right all along.  It was just terribly unfortunate that the eyewitness evidence wasn’t strong enough to stand up in court after 12 years, and so the “unrepentant terrorist” had to be freed.  I don’t believe we’d have seen any fresh investigation, merely the same spectacle as we have now, attempting to identify these Libyans who put the bomb on KM180 at Malta that morning.

    However, Westminster tried to circumvent that with the proposed Prisoner Transfer Agreement, whereby Megrahi was obviously going to be pressurised to drop the appeal to return home as a convicted prisoner and spend the rest of his life in a Libyan jail.  Whether he’d have agreed to that we don’t know, because the SNP won the 2007 election at exactly the wrong moment from Tony Blair’s point of view, and torpedoed the idea.

    Then Megrahi developed aggressive cancer, and that was even better.  No need to accede to Tony Blair’s devious plan.  No need even for Megrahi to have to consent to being jailed in Libya.  He could go home, and hopefully die soon and be forgotten.  In fact the sooner the better, because him dying in a Scottish prison wasn’t on anybody’s agenda.  He just had to drop that appeal, and everything would be fine.  And right on cue, he did.  So they could go right on claiming he was the “Lockerbie bomber”, as required.

    It’s not going to work any more.  We’ve seen the evidence that was withheld from the Zeist court, proving that the bomb went on board at Heathrow.

  44. Macart says:

    All very true Morag, my reason for bringing us back to the SCCRC report is because its still hanging in parliamentary business limbo and of itself needs a transparent resolution. Looking forward to further articles on this.

  45. Morag says:

    Vronsky, if the new Libyan government tries to concoct evidence linking either Megrahi or Gaddafi to the bombing, I think it’s likely to be untenable.  I don’t think there is sufficient knowledge of the case within the new regime to be able to dream up something credible.  They might produce something vague and general, but I can’t see them being able to address the problem of the Heathrow introduction.

    Actually, if they produced evidence that some other Libyan agents managed to get the bomb on board at 4.30 in the afternoon at Heathrow, I might even take it seriously!

  46. Vronsky says:


    There might be documents showing that Iran asked Libya for help, and I don’t think we can exclude the possibility that Libya may have assisted in some way (they helped the IRA, after all, why would they not help Iran?).  However any such complicity would probably be peripheral with no bearing on the specific charges against Megrahi.  We’ll have to wait and see what the Libyans produce and how Washington/London(/Holyrood?) spin it.  According to the Herald report, “Mr Nacua [the Libyan Ambassador] said it would be at least a year before Libya would be in a position to release whatever information it holds.”  Hmmm.  So some processing will be taking place, then.

  47. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Allow me to play the cynic before I comment.

    Willie Rennie, as I have noted elsewhere, is getting more TV/BBC/Media coverage than Lamont and Davidson put together.He is getting more coverage than the Scottish Government. This I suggest tells us several things.
    1. The unionist campaign knows Davidson and Lamont are negatives – the LibDem vote is important to defend the union – the LibDem vote is the vote that does most damage to the SNP (they haven’t fully factored in yet that the referendum campaign is not party political but they wish it was).
    2. The issue that has maximum power to damge AS and the  Scottish Government is the foot dragging on a full, definitive, legally determining  inquiry into the Lockerbie travesty.

    These are the reasons that Rennie is in our faces today on this issue.

    Having said that there is no issue which has pushed me closer to throwing away my 53 years of membership of the SNP than this one. As I have a nodding acquaintance or more with most of the higher reaches of the party and hold most of them in high regard I have to believe there is good reason for its behaviour on this issue. I am convinced there is some very explosive information that we do not have at the centre of this. And I suspect a YES vote will eventually allow this information to be put into the public domain

  48. Morag says:

    Vronsky, I certainly agree.  As I said, if they produced evidence showing how Libyan agent(s) put the bomb into the container in the afternoon at Heathrow, or assisted in that process, I’d be inclined to take it seriously.  There’s no empirical reason to believe Libya couldn’t or wouldn’t have done it.  Just an insurmountable pile of evidence showing that it wasn’t done in the way the Crown said it was, or by the individual the Crown had convicted.

    I wonder.  Would such evidence actually be made public, if it was handed to the Lockerbie inquiry?  I have to hope so.  In that event, I don’t know if I’d laugh or cry.  Probably something vaguely hysterical….

  49. Morag says:

    David, I take Willie Rennie at BBC Scotlandshire’s estimation.

    He’s desperate for publicity, and he’s glommed on to Lockerbie as something that might get him that.  It’s working, very probably for the reasons you suggest.

    He gained some merit in certain parts of JFM for earlier pronouncements, but I was very sceptical – not least because I have debated Lockerbie with Menzies Campbell and know exactly where he stands on the matter.  I think Ming outranks Willie by quite a few strawberry leaves.  However, Willie’s response to a friendly overture caused general disgust, and he’s no longer seen as a potential asset.

    This present pronouncement makes no sense.  If he thinks Megrahi did what he was convicted of doing, and that the new regime in Libya is a fertile place to look to find out more about how he accomplished the apparently impossible and who helped him, then why is he calling for a public inquiry?  On what conceivable grounds?

  50. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Of course, the whole conspiracy behind Lockerbie went up in the air when the plane exploded over land instead of over the sea as was intended.
    There were obviously no contingency plans for that happening and “making stuff up as they went along” happened to explain a lot of stuff they hadn’t expected to have to explain

    And regardless of the provenance of the famous piece of circuit board the notion that they would find, in a ruuged area of over 300 square miles, a thing the size of my thumbnail that I probably couldn’t have found in my back garden is absolutely absurd   

  51. Morag says:

    No, that doesn’t work.  Despite all rumours to the contrary, the plane wasn’t late.

    The plane didn’t miss its slot.  The captain was so concerned not to miss his slot he closed the doors and pushed off from the stand even though his last passenger (Mr. Basuta, the luckiest man in known space) was still running to the gate.  The official departure time was 6 pm and the plane left the stand at 6.04 pm.  As flights go, that’s on time.

    It took another 21 minutes before the wheels actually left the runway, but again, that’s standard for Heathrow.  No plane magically leaps into the air the minute the doors are closed, and 20 to 25 minutes on the tarmac is quite unremarkable.  (Oddly enough, KM180 was late leaving Malta, and PA103A was late getting in to Heathrow in the evening due to a fierce headwind, and of the three flights in question, PA103 itself is the only one that wasn’t late.)

    David Johnson, who published a Lockerbie book in June of 1989, asked Pan Am a number of questions.  One was, was the plane late?  The answer was no.  And obviously, that answer was true.  At Camp Zeist the matter was also examined, and the Heathrow air traffic controller also confirmed that a 20 to 25 minute period of taxiing and queueing for the runway was absolutely normal.

    If your Heathrow to New York flight was scheduled to leave at 6 pm, and actually pushed off the stand at 6.04 pm, and was airborne at 6.25, would you think you were on a late flight?

    But supposing the taxiways had been unusualy clear that evening, and the plane had made the best time possible.  Ten minutes is the most you can squeeze out of that.  Ten minutes would have taken the plane over Glasgow, that’s all.

    The other variable is the route.  The route over Ireland is the common one for Heathrow to New York flights, and PA103 was only sent on the northerly course because of the wild westerly gale that night.  It’s possible it might have dropped in the Irish Sea if it had gone over towards Ireland, but that would have been a very small target to hit considering the impossibility of predicting the exact course – or the exact take-off time if you don’t believe it was a barometric trigger.  It could have hit Dublin.  There is no way in geography it could have made it as far as the Atlantic, not on any permutation.

  52. Morag says:

    In addition, one thing you have to get clear about the timer business is that if the trigger was indeed one of Khreesat’s altimeter-controlled devices, then it would not have mattered a button how late the bloody plane was.  That was the point of the damn things.  It was entirely unnecessary to know when the device would leave the ground, because the altimeter would sense the take-off.  They were originally used for devices sent as air mail, for exactly that reason.  In that case, Lockerbie was doomed the minute air traffic control decided to send the plane on the northerly course to escape the gale.  It could have been an hour late, two hours late, and the result would have been exactly the same.

    Except, they found that bit of circuit board that seemed to be a visual match for the MEBO-produced digital countdown timers.  With a timer like that, it would explode at the time set, irrespective of where the device was at that moment.  Now, re-think the entire scenario.  If you have a timer like that, and the plane you are targeting has a 7-hour flight across the Atlantic ahead of it, and it’s Heathrow at midwinter you’re dealing with, bad weather and logistics delays and all (and of course it would also have waited if the feeder flight had been late), and the device is so small it’s not going to do anything fatal to a plane on the tarmac, when do you set the timer for?

    Not for only an hour after the advertised departure time, which is only about 40 minutes after the probable take-off of an on-time flight, you don’t.  Anything could have happened.  The feeder flight could have been even later than it was.  The plane could have been delayed because of the weather.  The pilot might have waited to sort out Mr. Basuta, who after all had his luggage on the plane, and lost his slot that way.  There could always have been the perennial cock-up on the catering front.

    The plane fell out of the sky 38 minutes after its wheels left the runway.  Which is bang on time for a Khreesat device, and utterly brainless for a countdown timer.  But the whole point about Khreesat’s devices was that they were completely unaffected by delayed flights.

  53. Morag says:

    I wouldn’t, however, completely discount the finding of the PT/35b chip as impossible.  The searchers were instructed, unless it’s growing, or a rock, pick it up.  The fragment wasn’t lying loose, it was embedded in the collar of a shirt which was visibly burnt.  The search teams were specifically instructed to look out for such things.

    The shirt collar was one of a bagful of things picked up during an organised sweep of the terrain, actually in the open in a field of rough grazing beside Blinkbonny farmhouse near Newcastleton.  The bag of assorted litter from the field was taken back to the Dextar warehouse and sorted into individually bagged items there.  Four months later the individual bag in question was examined at RARDE and the fragment was found embedded in the fabric of the singed collar.

    OK, that’s the official version.  I reserve the right to challenge it and call shenanigans.  However, I don’t think you can dismiss it simply on the grounds of a priori impossibility.

  54. velofello says:

    The only aspect of this sorry affair I am comfortable with is that the Scottish Government,defied the UK and the USA and released Al Megrahi. Salmon and MacAskill are obliged to support the verdict on Al Megrahi otherwise they would would pressed into  sponsoring an investigation. Releasing him under the terminal illness consideration is one action they could risk, facing up to and questioning the USA and UK political and judicial powers would have been foolhardy.
    I admit to not having a detailed understanding of the Lockerbie case and i doubt that the true account of events will ever be revealed. At the time I did think that The evidence against him did seem fragile, and as a wizened old skeptic i believe governments and their agents are capable of doing “whatever it takes”. Not necessarily very smart with their deeds but certainly ruthless.

  55. Cameron says:

    @ Morag

    So is it an urban myth that evidence was removed from the scene by unknown individual?

  56. muttley79 says:


    Is it possible the bomb was smuggled on board a plane at Frankfurt Airport?  Was there not a Palestinian terrorist group active in the area at that time?  There was a raid in West Germany a few weeks before Lockerbie and a bomb was unaccounted for if I recall correctly.

  57. Morag says:

    Cameron – What evidence would that be you’re talking about, then?

  58. Cameron says:

    @ Morag

    Look, I am asking an honest question, so do me a favour and cool the aggression please.

  59. Morag says:

    Muttley, Frankfurt is not a thousand miles from Heathrow.  Why assume that a terrorist group based in Frankfurt would necessarily have to hit their home city airport?

    Frankfurt security was nearly as bad as Heathrow, but after the October raid on the PFLP-GC which you describe, Frankfurt airport was alerted to the possibility of IEDs disguised as Toshiba radio-cassette recorders, which of course also described the Lockerbie bomb whoever was responsible.

    The main reasons against Frankfurt being the route of introduction are however:

    1. A Khreesat device (Khreesat was the bomb-maker for the Frankfurt gang you mention) would have had to be loaded at Heathrow if the transatlantic leg of the flight was the target.
    2. None of the numerous allegations of a Frankfurt introduction proved to have a shred of positive evidence to support it.
    3. Once the entirety of the baggage reconciliation and the statements of the Heathrow baggage handlers is analysed, it can be seen that the unaccompanied brown Samsonite which contained the bomb was loaded at Heathrow and not Frankfurt.

    My own view is that the Palestinian group re-thought their plan after their arrest and subsequent inexplicable release by the German authorities, and decided to hit a plane out of Heathrow rather than Frankfurt.  They may already have been familiar with PA103, because of its nominal Frankfurt departure.

  60. Cameron says:

    @ Morag

    And how on earth would anyone know what evidence had been removed (if any), except the person that removed it?

  61. Morag says:

    Cameron, how can I answer you if you don’t tell me what you’re talking about?  Why do you react to a simple request for information with accusations of aggression?

    ETA: I literally do not know what you are talking about. You’ll have to stop being so cryptic.

  62. Cameron says:

    @ Morag

    Sorry, I am not trying to be cryptic nor confrontational. Its just that you appear to have a very in-depth knowledge of the subject, and I am trying to be brief.

    I am sure I am not the only person who has come across the “rumour” (for want of a better word), that unidentified individuals were spotted removing objects from the scene of the crime. I simply wanted to know if this was an urban myth, and a simple yes or no would have sufficed.

    As far as accusing you of aggression, I just felt that the “then” at the end of your question was superfluous to say the least.

  63. Morag says:

    Oh dear, we’re touchy tonight.

    It’s undisputed that many members of the public retrieved items on their own initiative, and turned up at the police station or police headquarters with them, often with only a confused account of where they’d found them.

    Several people were convicted of removing “souvenirs” from the crash site.  I don’t have the details of the convictions.  I think it’s highly unlikely those convicted were the only ones who lifted their own personal piece of “Lockerbie”.

    One piece of luggage was definitely tampered with, that is clear from the trial transcript.  A hole was cut in the side of a suitcase.

    None of these things is an urban legend.  Is it possible that these “rumours” you’ve been hearing were garbled accounts of one or more of these occurrences?

  64. Cameron says:

    @ Morag

    Thank you.

    With regards to being touch, did you not ask me to shut up earlier? You do not answer that.

  65. Morag says:

    I did.  I asked you to shut up about 9/11.  So did RevStu, as I recall.

    So, you’re happy with the information about items being removed from the crash scene? Simply on first principles, I’d be astonished if it hadn’t been something of a target for souvenir-hunters.

  66. Cameron says:

    @ Morag

    I had no intention of mentioning it after my initial post. The Rev. did not ask me to shut up, he asked me not to post anything further about 9/11. His manner a rather firm but polite if I remember correctly.

    Yes, I am grateful for your clarification. In my mind though, this fact makes the conviction even less credible.

  67. Morag says:

    You must be into some sort of negative credibility zone then, as on the basis of the evidence we have, Megrahi definitely, conclusively, certainly, did not put that bomb on that plane.
    How much less credible does it get?

  68. Cameron says:

    Not much.

  69. muttley79 says:

    Thanks for the reply, Morag.  Yes, it does look as though it was Heathrow where the bomb was smuggled into.  I bought John Ashton’s book, though have not read it yet.  I see James Robertson is going to release a book related to Lockerbie this year. Have you read Robert Fisk’s The Great War For Civilisation?  There is an interesting passage about Lockerbie, covers the Iran-Palestinian link.

  70. Morag says:

    Muttley, much as I like John Ashton, I fear he has been very slow to look seriously at the Heathrow evidence, probably because of his close involvement with Francovich’s 1994 film The Maltese Double Cross (fantastic title!) which homed in on the theory that Khaled Jaafar was an unwitting mule who carried the bomb planted in his luggage by Hezbollah.

    Various theories surrounding Jaafar were popular from about April 1989, apparently on the back of Juval Aviv’s Interfor report to Pan Am, in which he claimed to have evidence that the bomb was introduced at Frankfurt.  Unfortunately Aviv appears to have made it all up out of whole cloth.  I still wonder why.  It certainly kept the sceptics/ conspiracy theorists happily occupied for ten years and more.

    The Heathrow evidence was largely presented at the Fatal Accident Inquiry in 1990, and was comprehensively ignored by everyone who heard it.  It was only when part of it was presented at the trial in 2000 that a number of people sat up and took notice.  However, the bits the Crown had contrived to lose down the back of the settee left it a little bit ambiguous, and the judges relied on that slight ambiguity to handwave it all away.

    John’s book is very good, and actually an easy and compelling page-turner.  He does justice to Megrahi’s memory, showing him to have been a very different person from the “unrepentant terrorist” beloved of the popular press.  However, even then he left the Heathrow evidence only half-analysed, as a “reasonable doubt” sort of thing, and then jumped back to Khaled Jaafar as “more interesting”.

    I didn’t get my hands on the missing evidence until June of this year, which is after John’s book was published.  Latterly, he was very helpful in supplying me with further evidence he had which further cemented the conclusions I was reaching.

    I don’t know what to expect from James Robertson, but I know that he has an excellent grasp of the Lockerbie evidence, and I don’t think a novel from the author of The Testament of Gideon Mack and And the Land Lay Still will disappoint.  I’m not familiar with Fisk’s work, however the Iran/Palestine link is a very common currency so it doesn’t surprise me to learn that it surfaces in many situations.

  71. muttley79 says:


    This is what Fisk says:

    ‘Within hours of the destruction of the Airbus on 3 July 1988, President Khamenei of Iran declared that Reagan and his admin. were “criminals and murderers.”  Tehran radio announced: “We will not leave the crimes of America unpunished.  We will resist the plots of the Great Satan and avenge the blood of our martyrs from criminal mercenaries.”  I didn’t have much doubt what that would mean.  Back in Beirut, I found no one who believed that the Vincennes had shot down the Iranian aircraft in error.  Someone over dinner – a doctor who was a paragon of non-violence – speculated that a plane could be blown up by a bomb in the checked baggage of an aircraft.  It was a few days before it dawned on me that if people were talking like this, then someone was trying to find out if it was possible.

    I was in Paris when the BBC announced that a Pan Am jet had crashed over Lockerbie.  This time it was 270 dead, including eleven on the ground…There were the usual conspiracy theories: a cover-up by CIA drug-busting scheme that had gone crazily wrong, messing wiht the evidence by American agents after the crash.  And Iranian revenge for the Airbus killings.

    In the US, this was a favourite theory…In Beirut, an old acquaintance with terrifying contacts in the hostage world calmly said to me: “It’s (Ahmed) Jibril and the Iranians.”  Jibril was head of the Damascus-based “PFLP-General Command.”  D/matic c/spondents in Washington and London always the stalking horses for govt accusations- began to finger the Iranians, the PFLP-GC, the Syrians.  In Tehran, people would look at me with some intensity when I mentioned Lockerbie.  They never claimed it.  Yet they never expressed their horror. 

    In Beirut, the PFLP-GC became known, briefly,as “the Lockerbie boys”.  I ddin’t count much on that.  But then, more than 2 years later, a strange thing happened.  Jibril held a press conference in a P/tian refugee camp in Beirut, initially to talk about the release by Libya of French and Belgian hostages seized from the Mediterranean.  But that was not what was on his mind.  “I’m not responsible for the Lockerbie bombing”, he suddenly blurted out.  “They are trying to get me with a kangaroo court.”  There was no court then.  And no one had officially accused Jibril of Lockerbie.  But scarely nine months later, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and the diplomatic correspondents no longer believed in the Syrian-PFLP-GC-Iranian connection.  Now it was Libya that was behind Lockerbie.  Iran was the enemy of the bestial Saddam, and Syria was sending its tanks to serve alongside Western armies in the Gulf.  Jibril’s men faded from the screen.  So did the only country with a conceivable motive: Iran.’

    That is pretty much the gist of what Fisk said in his book.

  72. Morag says:

    Interesting.  I wasn’t aware that Jibril had actually denied involvement in quite these terms.  I’ve seen him on at least one documentary declaring that these altimeter bombs could be used for other things than attacking aircraft, looking like the cat who swallowed the cream, the canary, the aviary and the entire dairy.  There’s also an apocryphal story that at a party once he confided to some guests, “they’ll never figure out how I did it.”

    It is rather more complicated than that though.  There is a thread running through the entire investigation hinting at a desire to blame Libya – starting four days after the disaster, when Reagan threatened to bomb Libya in retaliation.  It looks rather as if the sheer volume and relevance of the PFLP-GC/Iran/IR655 related evidence simply overwhelmed the Libya theory for a while.  However, the investigation was pulled back from that line in March 1989 according to Paul Foot, and the piece of evidence that finally set them back on to the Libya track was certainly in the possession of the investigators by January 1990.

    Having said all that, I think the circumstantial case against Jibril’s group (and Khreesat in particular, but bear in mind Khreesat was actually a CIA asset and supposed to be a double agent) is pretty strong.  Far stronger than anything we know about against Libya, as a state.  However, thanks to the Lockerbie investigation failing to follow up a truly obvious lead showing the real modus operandi right at the very beginning of the operation, we don’t have any concrete evidence.

  73. Craig P says:

    A great article, though I am with Vronsky in puzzling over Kenny Macaskill’s actions. The Justice Secretary turned this issue of fairly clear miscarriage of justice from an open goal to an own goal, and to this day I do not understand why. 

  74. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    What I find puzzling is the number of people who vehemently disbelieve some of the  so called evidence but quite happily with no more reason to do so believe other bits of it.  
    I believe none of it. I don’t lend any more credence to statements made long after the event that the plane was not late which contradict first statements made.  Whether the plane was taking the direct cross Atlantic route or the just as common North Pole route it has been argued plausibly that it should have been over the sea when in fact it was over Galloway and there is no reason whatsover for it to be any where nearGlasgow.
    On the circuit board in the piece of shirt this will have been on the shirt that al Megrahi didn’t buy on the day he wasn’t in Malta, the circuit board that has no trace of explosive on it and the circuiit board  (and shirt) that an expert recently insisted could not possibly have survived the explosion. This piece of circuit board suddenly appeared conveninetly when the frame of the Libyans started and it is quite clear that it was introduced to the evidence very late as the numbering on the items of evidence have been clumsily altered to accommodate it.
    There has been a huge and complicated conspiracy here and the longer I think the more I am convinced that the US has a very guilty secret at the centre of it.

  75. albaman says:

             How far back will the next release of WiKiLeaks go, do you think (hope)?.

  76. Camero n says:

    @ Dave McEwan Hill

    Do you mean the miraculous appearance of the circuit board, was a bit like a certain passport that was found after another incident?.

  77. Morag says:

    Craig, I have to share your bafflement.

    Imagine my secret amusement when I was on the Independence March in September, and I turned round at the bottom of the steps leading down into the Gardens, to find Kenny MacAskill more or less on my heels.  Surreal barely begins to describe it.

  78. Morag says:

    Albaman, I don’t expect anything from Wikileaks.  I could be wrong, but I don’t think it’s either concerned with the truth about Lockerbie, or with events in a small foreign country of which they know little.

  79. albaman says:

    Aye, but if they have anything on America, they will use it.    


  80. Morag says:

    Well, we’ll see.  I might be pleasantly surprised.  It’s not something we can do anything about, though.

  81. Morag says:

    Dave, I don’t think you’re getting it.  A great deal of the evidence is solid as Rockall.  There are records and statements and photographs and actually a ton of stuff that is so fatal to the Crown case that there is no way in hell it would have been falsified.  If they could have got rid of it, they would, I suspect.

    If you intend to disbelieve all of it, you might as well declare that the plane was brought down by inter-dimensional space lizards, because you’re never going to get anywhere at all.  You have to take a view on the reliability (or otherwise) of each item on a case-by-case basis, and do your best with it, otherwise you’re all at sea and drowning in ignorance.

    THE PLANE WAS NOT LATE. It was never late.  It always pushed off from the stand at 6.04, which was about right in relation to its advertised “doors closing” time of 6 o’clock.  (And Mr. Basuta was only a few minutes late, and he was left behind.  Fact.)  And its recorded take-off time was always 6.25, which is about right for the usual sort of faffing around on the Heathrow tarmac that always happens before a flight gets airborne.  These times were recorded at the time, and they have never been disputed.  The only problem is that some people seem unable to understand that the advertised departure time is the time the doors are scheduled to close, and the take-off time is the time the wheels leave the tarmac, and that these times are USUALLY around 20 to 25 minutes apart.

    Have you ever been on a plane?  (Has John Stapleton ever been on a plane?)

    The plane was never over Galloway.  Lockerbie is in Dumfriesshire.  It was exactly where it was supposed to be at the time.  If it hadn’t fallen out of the sky it would have crossed Glasgow about ten minutes later.  You only have to look up standard flight paths to realise that.  (If you can find a Heathrow to JFK flight crossing the North Pole, I’d be very interested to hear about it.)

    It has been asserted by people who simply haven’t thought about what they’re saying that the plane should have been over the Atlantic.  If you think that’s credible, even after having the facts explained to you, then I’m afraid that’s your problem.

    The “expert” who said the contents of the suitcase couldn’t have survived the explosion turns out to be a fraud.  He was simply making it up.  Others who are aware of the full results of the tests he was talking about confirm that there were indeed fragments of clothes and radio in the test debris.

    The piece of circuit board was definitely there in January 1990.  The shift of the investigation towards Libya didn’t happen until about December 1990.

    I am very much inclined to think the bloody thing was actually planted, possibly in late December 1989 or January 1990, and that the provenance showing it in the investigation records in September 1989 and May 1989 has been backdated.  Which does rather point to a huge and complicated conspiracy, indeed.  However, that’s not something that can simply be asserted on the basis of a few vaguely understood and mostly false rumours.

    The provenance of photograph 117, and whether the film was cut into individual negatives, and the question of when the wad of radio manual pages was separated into its five leaves, and whether the SCRO looked at any polaroids of any PCB fragments in September of 1989, are the important elements in this determination.  Sorry, but that’s the level of detail it takes.

  82. Morag says:

    Cameron, I thought you promised.  Quit it, will you?  I have no intention of getting into that passport nonsense with you.  Been there, done that, left the chewed remains behind.  Not interested any more.

  83. Barontorc says:

    I think the best that can be said of this whole business is that Al-Megrahi was released by the Scottish Government to go home.

  84. Morag says:

    And informed nastily that he was being shown compassion that he never showed to his 270 victims, and that he would die a convicted, guilty man.

    I wasn’t particularly proud of Kenny that afternoon.

  85. mogabee says:

    Morag  Thanks for this. You have obviously an amazing amount of knowledge of this travesty. I had an uncle who was an undertaker in Glasgow and was involved in Lockerbie, he said that it was dire. I thought that I had a fair grip of the details but I’m impressed with this article. I have few doubts that the truth will out eventually, it always does.     I do hope that you have something that keeps you sane !

  86. Macart says:

    Wow, seriously Morag, above and beyond the call of duty for responses.

    (Doffs flat cap)


  87. Cameron says:

    @ Morag re: 1.10am

    I left ample space for “experts” such as yourself, to develop their findings on this thread. I even fed you a couple of questions for you to expand on. My last comment was not directed at you, this is not your blog and you are not the moderator.

    Apart from that, I would like to thank you and all of the other posters who have helped develop my understanding of the current position.

  88. Morag says:

    Cameron, that post of yours I was referring to was yet another try at derailing the discussion into 9/11 bickering.  Wait till RevStu chooses to publish an article about 9/11 trutherism, and state your case.  You could even submit one to him and see if he will publish it (good luck with that….).  Then we can all show how much we know about that one, OK?

  89. Cameron says:

    @ Morag,

    Whatever you say. You appear to know all.

  90. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    I’m sorry, Morag but your attitude to those who do not entirely agree with you leaves a lot to be desired and is counter productive.

    I do get it. Perhaps you do not. There has been a huge, evil and very deliberate conspiracy to frame an entirely innocent man in which the UK and Scottish authorities  to our eternal shame have colluded with the US (which I suspect has a deeply disturbing secret to hide).
    Many statements made originally in good faith by people with no agenda have subsequently been contradicted.
    Once it has been established that any of the evidence is deliberate fabrication all of the evidence is questionable. The fact that some people believe “evidence” given by or supported by people  – no matter how estimable they appear to be –  who have been a party to fabrication or are aware that other pieces of evidence  have been fabricated is a matter of some surprise to me .
    A lot of “evidence” in this case has been established to my complete satisfaction as fabrication. Maybe I’m just stupid  
    Every piece of evidence in this case is therefore dubious.
    In particular I vehemently believe that the piece of circuit board found on a piece of shirt is a complete and convenient fabrication.

  91. Morag says:

    Mogabee and Macart, thanks for that.  I became interested in the detail of Lockerbie as a result of having debated some 9/11 “truthers”, and understanding that the arguments they were making were sheer delusion.  At the same time, though, I could see how it was possible to present such delusions in a way that made them sound superficially plausible.

    I began to wonder, what’s up with Lockerbie?  I’d been reading similar cryptic hints about a blue Babygro and a suitcase full of drugs and a missing body (or maybe that’s an extra body) and an explosion triggered by the ATC radio transmission, for years.  Maybe that was just as delusional as the 9/11 stuff.  Maybe the repeated comments that the Zeist conviction was a travesty were indeed no more than conspiracy theorising, I thought.

    So I decided to take a look, in the same way friends of mine had taken a critical in-depth look at the 9/11 theories.  I thought it was at least even money that I’d find the featured anomalies all had perfectly reasonable explanations and that the Crown case was pretty solid at the bottom of it all.  Well, it wasn’t like that.

    What was unexpected, though, was the direction my researches led.  It was the first thing that struck me about the court’s written judgement, but it had really only been discussed by Paul Foot and even he wasn’t asking what seemed to me to be the obvious questions.  Since a really suspicious suitcase had been seen in the position of the explosion, which the investigators had obviously decided wasn’t the bomb, how did THEY rule it out in the first place?

    The argument as presented in court had all the hallmarks of a “Hail Mary pass”.  A desperate flight of speculation to try to handwave this embarrassing piece of evidence away.  It was quite astonishing that the judges bought it at all, but that wasn’t really the point.  Since the evidence had been in the hands of the investigation since January 1989, on what grounds had they eliminated that suitcase back then?

    Even more of a puzzle was the obvious missing evidence.  Knowledge of the exact number, description and condition on recovery of the handful of suitcases placed in the baggage container before the flight from Frankfurt landed was obviously vital to arriving at any understanding of what that suitcase might possibly have been.  It was inconceivable that the investigation didn’t have that information, but it wasn’t presented in court.  Also, much effort was expended in speculating as to whether and how a particular baggage handler might have rearranged these suitcases.  The possibility that someone might simply call the man as a witness and ask him, didn’t even arise.  Nobody even asked whether he had been interviewed, and if so what he had said about it.  And yet, again, it was inconveivable that the man hadn’t been interviewed.

    I formed the opinion that if the Crown wasn’t presenting obviously vital evidence it clearly must have been in possession of, then that evidence was likely to show something quite different from the story the Crown was trying to get the court to accept.  That was where I started out, but nobody else was asking that question, and I couldn’t see where to go with it.

    I began to look at all the rest of it.  I found out all about the blue Babygro, and the tale of the suitcase full of drugs, and that of the alleged missing extra body, and exactly which frequencies ATC was talking to the plane on at which times.  All very interesting, as was the huge ton of other stuff about baggage transfers at Frankfurt and the condition of the clothes said to have been bought from Tony Gauci.  Some of it (like the ATC transmissions) was utterly mundane.  Some of it was intriguing and really quite suspicious.  But none of it was conclusive.

    I began to specialise in the Frankfurt baggage transfers, in the belief that it might be possible to nail the whole thing that way.  In the course of that I was handed a memory stick containing “all the evidence on baggage transfers in the German police files”.  I got a bit weary reading a tale of utter incompetence and complete bugger’s muddle in the original German.  (Ironically, the surname of the German policeman who completely fouled up this part of the inquiry is Fuhl – pronounced “fool”.)  But the files also included the Heathrow baggage transfer evidence, translated into German for the German police records – together with the English originals.

    So I decided to go back to my original interest, the Heathrow interline baggage reconciliation, and the question of whether the baggage handler had ever said whether he had rearranged these suitcases or not.  It was all there.  Clear, incontrovertible evidence that the brown Samsonite described to the police in the first weeks of January as having been seen in the position of the explosion, was actually the bomb suitcase.  Including absolutely clear statements from the baggage handler in question saying that he hadn’t moved the suitcase, no, really, honestly, he hadn’t.

    So that’s where we are now, if JFM can persuade anyone to listen.  It’s a hard sell, I have to say.

  92. Morag says:

    Dave, I know it’s a cliche, but, while you are entitled to your own opinion, you are not entitled to your own facts.  I will gladly debate your opinions with you.  I can’t see how any reasonable debate is possible however, if you insist on introducing false assumptions or denying incontrovertible facts.

    As it happens, I also think there has been a huge, evil and very deliberate conspiracy to frame Megrahi.  I also suspect, though I cannot be certain, that the USA may have a deeply disturbing secret to hide – though I lean more to the possibility of a counter-terrorism operation going very badly wrong, perhaps due to gross negligence, than to the “Faustian bargain” theory.

    However, I believe you are wrong in your approach to the evidence.  WHO are you accusing of being a party to fabrication?  If fabrication occurred in the case of the PT/35b fragment, we’re talking about a couple of RARDE personnel, and possibly (but not definitely) one or two Scottish cops.  That’s all.

    You cannot use that possibility to declare that straightforward aviation records detailing the time the plane took off and so on have been fabricated.  It’s ridiculous.  Hordes of people at Heathrow airport were aware what time it left.  Not only that, if it hadn’t left on time, it could not physically have got as far as Lockerbie by seven o’clock.  You’re trying to break the laws of physics in order to avoid re-thinking an assumption that was based on a mistaken premise.

    I’m sorry you don’t like my attitude.  My attitude is that incontrovertible facts have to be respected, and theories, even pet theories, revised or jettisoned if a fact emerges which contradicts them.  I’ve had to give more than one absolutely fabulous theory a decent burial, lay a bunch of flowers on the grave, and move on, when facts emerged that showed the theory wasn’t sustainable.  There’s nothing to be gained by petulantly insisting that every living breathing soul involved in the case must be a lying scumbag if their evidence doesn’t fit your preconceived notions.

  93. Cameron says:

    @ Morag,

    As Dave McEwan Hill suggests, describing those that you do not agree with, in the pejorative terms you seam to be only to happy use, is not conducive to developing an understanding based on mutual respect and intellectual interrogation. The “truethers” or “9/11 conspiracy theorists” that you talked to, may well have been delusional. However, that does not equate to the official explanation being sound.

    For someone who appears to disbelieve the official, Lockerbie account, and yet still hold to firmly to Hanlon’s Razor, seams like a pronounce cognitive dissonance to me. A little less ego please, and a bit more respect for others please.

  94. Barontorc says:

    This whole matter is beset with lies but there can be only one ‘true lie’ – the one that says “I/we didn’t do it”.
    The Justice For Megrahi group have consistently done, taken the position that what has been accepted as evidence of his guilt is not reliable and Megrahi cannot be guilty as charged.

    I think the pointers Morag gives in these threads show that consisting  doubts over his conviction hold up the Scottish Justice system for a seriously well deserved kicking.

    I do not accept that the Scottish Government and Justice Minister Kenny McAskill should be criticised for extricating themselves by the method used to right at least this wrongful conviction, albeit that it remained as a criminal record. Inept as that was, it looked like human natural justice to me.

    I am fearful however, that as the Justice Minister, Kenny McAskill is not off the hook for allowing the Scottish system to be tarnished by the original charges against Megrahi remaining under such credibility.
    I recognise in this he is limited by the degree of cooperation coming from major powers, but in my book the Scottish ‘Not Proven’ would have dealt with it, as such, the Camp Zeist process remains a judicial abomination.
     As with all JFM information – this article is excellent. 

  95. Vronsky says:


    I want to respect Rev Stu’s request that the thread should not be diverted to a discussion of certain tragic events in the autumn of two thousand and one.  The reason I respect it, though, is not because it’s a ‘diversion’ – it’s because any mention of that incident will attract attention from cranks, and perhaps people who are not cranks.  Note my various locutions to avoid mentioning a date – there are alert engines which detect mention of it and direct attention towards it.  Any thread dealing with it soon becomes swamped with noise: one- or two-sentence jibes about tinfoil hats and swivel-eyed morons – I’m sure you’ve seen the sort of thing.

    That attitude to events of the autumn in question is remarkably similar to the Magnus Linklater attitude to the Lockerbie Case: if you believe anything other than the government story you are a drivelling lunatic.  Clearly the effect of overturning the official story of that autumn would be exactly equivalent to a political revolution, and the chances of that occurring any time soon  are vanishingly small.  Perhaps, similarly, the Lockerbie Case is not just a miscarriage of justice.  I think that is the point that Cameron wished to make.  It’s a significant one, and didn’t deserve the rather silly response you gave it.

    That said, I admire your writing on Lockerbie.  You have great skill in marshalling detail and sifting wheat from chaff, but perhaps heed Dave’s advice on dealing with opinions different from your own.  And as regards that autumn, note above what I said about Copernicus.  The day always comes when the mathematics overtakes the theology.

  96. Morag says:

    Oddly enough, Barontorc, the original verdict was guilty for Megrahi and not guilty for Fhimah.  No use of not proven.  Strange split decision under the circumstances.

    We could debate the question of Kenny’s decision all day and all night, but in the end it’s really a value-judgement.  I was glad to see poor Megrahi get on the plane that day, and documents that have emerged since show the sort of desperate mental state he was in at the time.  I was still pretty unhappy with the attitude Kenny struck, judgement by a higher power and all that.  I respect people who feel he did the right thing unreservedly though.

    From what we know now, though, “not proven” would have been a complete farce as regards the Camp Zeist trial.  What I am trying to get across, apparently not too successfully, is that the analysis of the complete Heathrow interline baggage loading evidence takes this out of the category of “doubts about the safety of the conviction” or “not proved beyond reasonable doubt” and into the category of “definitely not guilty”.

    That evidence proves the Bedford suitcase was the bomb.  Which places the scene of the crime at Heathrow airport, about 4.30 in the afternoon.  Megrahi was in Tripoli at 4.30 in the afternoon, verifiably.  He has an alibi.

    It is a source of great grief to me that this could not have been figured out before the poor man died.  Now that it has been figured out though, I wish I could somehow find a way to get people to take it on board.

  97. Morag says:

    Vronsky, the fact is that I have also, perhaps unwisely, indulged in some rather in-depth analysis of events on that other day you mention, and have spent rather too many pointless hours debating these with people who are undoubtedly in the category of swivel-eyed loons.  Frankly, after a while doing that, two-sentence jibes about tinfoil hats is about what you’re reduced to, and all the debate merits.

    I think Cameron wished to equate Lockerbie with that affair, and to imply the parallel that if the Official Version of Lockerbie is a pile of deep doo-doo, then so is that of the later tragedy.  This is something I believe we must scrupulously avoid.

    I don’t have the slightest problem with people whose opinions differ from my own.  I do have a problem with people who insist on denying the most mundane and proveable facts (such as the time the plane took off) simply because it conflicts with a pet theory they can’t bear to relinquish.

  98. Cameron says:

    @ Morag

    Please stop assuming you know what my beliefs or my intentions are. I have given you no grounds on which to make such assumption, which I am afraid indicate a particular prejudice to me.

  99. Morag says:

    Yes, right, whatever….

  100. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    I am not convinced that any of the evidence presented on Lockerbie is “inconvertible” and any suggestion that simple recording of things like flight times and so on are difficult to  be changed  retrospectively is far too trusting as far as I’m concerned when much more complicated lies have been produced.
    Is that fragment of shirt a fragment of the shirt that al Megrahi didn’t buy the day he wasn’t in the shop in Malta?

    As a succession of US Presidents and a succession of UK Prime Ministers have lied or been party to the great lie on al Megrahi how much more evidence is required to render  everything produced in support of his guilt absolutely meaningless

  101. Diz says:

    Morag, I was reading Joe Ashton’s book and couldn’t work out why there was such a delay between the time the charred shirt collar was found and when it was examined. All the searchers must have been told to look out particulaly for charred cloth as this might indicate proximity to the bomb and it’s hard to believe that forensics wouldn’t have been all over it as soon as it was found. However appears that it was months before this particular piece of cloth was checked and the timer fragment teased out.
    According to Mr Ashton, the label attatched to this item was mysteriously changed and now you speculate that it might have been found months later than claimed. If your suspicion, and I understand it is no more than that, is correct then the shirt collar might well have been examined soon after it was found.

  102. Morag says:

    OK.  Do you agree that Pan Am flight 103 on 21st December 1988 was scheduled to depart at six o’clock?  Or do you think they managed to retrieve all extant copies of the timetable as well?

    It crashed over Lockerbie at three minutes past seven.  I assume you aren’t disputing that?

    What time do you think the plane actually took off?  What time do you think it would have been expected to take off, if the doors were scheduled to close at six o’clock?

    Scepticism is all very well, but ye canna break the laws o physics, capn.

    “I did not sell that man any shirts,” is that what you’re talking about?

  103. Morag says:

    Sorry, Diz, we were cross-posting.  My previous comment was obviously intended for Dave.

    It’s hard to know exactly what happened to that bit of grey shirt collar.  It could have been found where and when it was said to have been found, and examined as described, and everything about it entirely kosher except for some very odd things like renumbered pages and what looks to anyone like a freaking great CLUE being essentially ignored for close on eight months.  (I doubt it though.)

    It could have been found as described, and examined as described, but then the records doctored later to add the PCB fragment to the things it contained.  There are problems with that too, particularly in relation to how the five-leaf wad of radio manual also in the collar was handled.

    The entire production could have been generated late in 1989, and the May and September records completely doctored to provide a back-dated provenance for the lot.  Again, I’m not quite sure how the examination of the manual fragment fits into that scenario.

    I think there is more detail in the depths of the SCCRC report which might illuminate this, but there are only so many hours in the day.

    I’m not sure where the altered police label fits into all this, either.  In fact the official version has the collar found on 13th January and examined on 12th May.  Considering the sheer volume of stuff they had to cope with, including blast-damaged suitcase fragments (which I think were a higher priority than cloth) and things with obviously useful identifying marks on them, I don’t think 12th May is actually unrealistic for them to get to that particular scrap, which was after all only one of many scraps of more or less charred cloth. The fact that Thomas Hayes insisted on doing the job entirely single-handed obviously slowed things down – there are complaints about this in the police files. (You may think that in itself is suspicious. Given his history with the Maguire Seven and so on, and his departure under a cloud later in 1989, you may be right.)

    The sheer extent of the suspicious circumstances surrounding that damn fragment make it very hard to believe it’s not a fake.  However, exactly how it was done and when is not obvious, as yet.  The SCCRC said it wasn’t a fake because they had seen the original negative of a photo of it taken in May 1989, and that dated it right back to when it wa said to have been discovered in the collar.  However it appears that the film in question was cut up into individual negatives at RARDE, which is absolutely contrary to correct forensic practice, and destroys the provable provenance of the things, so it seems the SCCRC didn’t find the conclusive evidence they thought they did.

    It’s easy enough to declare the thing was planted.  It’s a hell of a lot harder to explain when and how it was done, in the context of the evidence available.

  104. Diz says:

    Morag, I’m so pleased I stumbled on this site because there is something else which you touched on in your comments above and which I thought about in the Ashton book.
    When the bomb went off we would expect all the clothes nearest the bomb in the  Samsonite suitcase to be badly burned, even completely destroyed and clothes in the surrounding cases to be, maybe, a bit less burned. We would also expect the Samsonite case to be blown apart and maybe some of the surrounding ones to be shattered too. The clothes in them would be blown right out of the plane by the bomb but the clothes in the bags which were not near the bomb would stay in their bags until they hit the ground. Therefore we would expect that all the clothing from the bomb bag and maybe a few nearby would blow (or flutter) downwind and land well downwind from the place where the explosion occurred which would have been a few miles south of Lockerbie. If the investigators could match these clothing fragments to the individual cases they would have the bomb case and those surrounding it and so see if they came from Frankfurt or Heathrow.
    It is not clear from your post above if this was done but I assume it was attempted. Was the clothing which was identified as coming from Mr Gauci’s shop, Mary’s House in Malta the worst damaged? Were the fragments of clothing from his shop furthest from the point of explosion? Is there anything on-line which charts this? I know that the timer fragment was found near Newcastleton which is a long way from Lockerbie but was there any loose clothing from other bags found further away? I’ve seen something on-line with a debris trail but it’s not annotated so its not clear what all the pieces of debris are.

  105. Diz says:

    In fact, thinking about it, a hard shelled case like a Samsonite would be much more likely to “smash” than a canvas holdall so it’s unlikely that much of the contents from holdall type bags would escape their bags. When the explosive tests were done in the Comet in America was the types of the surrounding bags varied too? I have to say this test to prove the “second layer theory” seemed a bit unscientific when I read about it.

  106. Morag says:

    Hi, Diz.  I think John Ashton’s treatment of this (quite near the end of the book) is quite good.  I’m not sure I can add a great deal to what he said.

    Hayes and Fedaday had this spiffing wheeze whereby things with bits of the radio in them but no bits of the bomb suitcase were in the bomb suitcase, and things that did have bits of the bomb suitcase embedded in them were outside it, and so on.  I simplify, but that’s the general idea.  As Ashton points out, this is not a recognised, validated technique of analysing blast debris; it’s something they made up as they went along.  Claiden probably had the right of it when he said he’d long given up predicting exactly where anything in particular would end up after an explosion.

    I suspect there was some massaging of the clothing evidence.  I think things were moved between categories on other criteria as well, such as whether they had Karen Noonan’s name tag on them, or whether they matched something stocked in Tony Gauci’s shop.  Nevertheless I find myself in broad agreement with the overall conclusions (on the basis of the results not being grossly fabricated).

    There were two suitcases which were absolutely blown to bits.  One belonged to Patricia Coyle, and had been transferred from the Frankfurt feeder flight.  The other was, on the basis of the full baggage reconciliation, the brown/maroon Samsonite hardshell Bedford described as having appeared mysteriously on the floor of the container while he was on his break, about an hour before the feeder flight landed.  The aggregation of evidence pertaining to the positioning of the explosion indicated that it was in either the bottom case of the stack (the one Bedford described) or the one on top of it which would have been a Frankfurt item.

    It appears that the case on top of the Bedford suitcase was Patricia Coyle’s case.  Flecks of the material of her case were found adherent to the outside of the biggest part of the brown Samsonite.  Simply on the basis of the extent of the damage, it’s anybody’s guess which case blew up.

    An early line of inquiry was that Patricia or her friend Karen had been given a little “present” by someone who had befriended them with evil intent while they were in Vienna.  Karen had had a relationship with a young Jordanian man, which compounded these suspicions.  This was the preferred theory in the very early weeks, and greatly upset Karen’s and Patricia’s families.

    This theory was ruled out, partly on the basis of the Jordanian lad being eventually traced and found to be entirely innocent.  However, at the same time, Hayes was coming to the conclusion that the bomb had actually been in the brown Samsonite.

    I think he was right.  (For once.)  A great deal of effort was expended to try to establish who owned the brown Samsonite, although this was in fact predicated on the assumption it had also come in on the feeder flight.  The possibility that it and the case Bedford described were one and the same was never considered, bizarre though that appears.  Nobody owned it.  Whether it came from the Heathrow batch or the Frankfurt batch in the container, it was unaccompanied, and not one of the legitimate unaccompanied items either.

    Then there was the batch of singed clothing which couldn’t be matched to any of the passengers, and which all or mostly seemed to have been manufactured in Malta.  There was reasonable forensic reason to believe that had indeed been in the same suitcase as the bomb, although Ashton is of course right when he says the assumptions being made were hardly peer-reviewed.  That stuff wasn’t Patricia’s or Karen’s, in fact most of it was menswear.

    So if you want to stick to Patricia as the bomb mule, you have to explain the unaccompanied brown Samsonite, whose owner was never traced, which contained these clothes that weren’t matched to a passenger either.  And which actually seems the likelier candidate for the bomb suitcase anyway.  I’ll go with the brown Samsonite, on the aggregation of the evidence.

    It’s possible to tell where each item was recovered, roughly, by the second letter of the label, which designates the sector where it was found.  Each item was recorded against an actual grid reference, but these are not all in the public domain.  I’m not sure the exact position of where the clothing scraps fell to earth is as significant as the fact that they were scraps, and they were showing signs of involvement in the explosion. 

    Really, the only serious anomaly here is the investigation’s absolute refusal to consider that the bomb suitcase, whichever of the two it was, might have been on the bottom layer, and might in fact have been the one Bedford saw exactly there, which matched the description of the bomb suitcase.  They were adamant it came from Frankfurt, even before they saw the Frankfurt baggage records (which didn’t happen till August), for no real reason at all that I can make out.

    In the end, although Sidhu had been adamant that he didn’t move the suitcases that were inthe container when he took it over, they had to dream up a fairy-story that involved him playing Tetris with the things in the cold and the dark and the rain, even though he was extremely pushed for time.  But that didn’t happen till 1999.

  107. muttley79 says:


    I meant to ask yesterday about the possibilities of an appeal against the conviction.  Does it require the family of Megrahi themselves to raise the money to afford lawyers for an appeal, or can others take up the case for them?  I remember reading in a newspaper that somebody else, such as Dr Swire, could do this. 

  108. Morag says:

    Muttley, I think the prospect of a third appeal is rather remote, personally.  I understand Aisha, Megrahi’s wife (who must be some sort of saint) has always been very keen to go that road, as is his daughter Gadia, his eldest child, who I believe qualified as a lawyer at least in part with the intention of one day clearing her father’s name.

    Against that is Megrahi’s eldest son, Khaled, now head of the family, who appears to me to be a complete flake, and unlikely to be up for anything that requires grit and determination.  And of course the political situation in Libya.  The family were supporters of Gaddafi, and are probably persona non grata now.  I think they have to keep their heads down, and I really don’t see them getting any of the official support or blessing they’d need to go forward with a new appeal.  Never mind funding.  I have no idea what it would cost or who would pay.

    Having said that, they have not yet come to a definite decision on the matter that I am aware of, and their right to make that decision before anyone else presumes to step in is being respected.  I have to say, though, that I’m not persuaded there is any will to take up that mantle should they choose to discard it.

    In addition, the campaign to get a Scottish public inquiry has just, today, taken a rather nasty hit.  That being so, I pin a lot of hope on the JFM allegations of criminality currently being examined by the Dumfries and Galloway police.  Nothing will happen there, though, until that body acknowledges that it is not competent to investigate itself, nor is the Crown Office competent to direct the investigation of allegations against itself.  Inevitably, an independent inquiry will have to be instituted into these allegations, and they can’t procrastinate forever.

  109. Morag says:

    Diz, if you look at the pictures of the remains of the two blown-to-bits suitcases, you’ll see that significantly larger pieces of the brown Samsonite remain, compared to the serious ruin of the navy blue canvas American Tourister (Patricia’s case).  I believe this is because, as you say, the Tourister was a soft-sided case.

    Given that all other cases recovered were less severely damaged, it seems to me the starting point is that the bomb was in one of these two, and the other was lying flat against it.  Match that up with what is known about the arrangement of the luggage in the container, plus the fact that the Heathrow-loaded cases were never moved, and it all falls into place, really.

    For a start, if the bomb wasn’t on the bottom layer, why aren’t there three cases in that state?  Wouldn’t the one on top of a second-layer IED also have been blown to bits?

    I have to thank you here, because I think the way you have phrased your questions has sparked a different way to describe the whole conundrum.  Maybe this will help me present it in a more comprehensible way.

  110. ianbrotherhood says:

    I watch most discussions on WoS from the sidelines and contribute little, but this one has made me feel very uneasy. Like Vronsky I’m taking care not to stray into territory declared off-limits by Rev Stu – that is the source of my discomfort.
    I’ve only been reading WoS for a few months, but I’ve seen dozens of discussions go wildly (and often very entertainingly) off-topic, leading to exchanges which sometimes become more informative than the article being discussed, with all manner of views being fully expressed, links provided, and little or no moderation.
    To be frank – Dr Kerr appears to have set parameters on the scope of this discussion, and done so with the use of stereotypical pejoratives (‘tin-foil hat wearers’, ‘swivel-eyed loons’ etc) which will mean little or nothing to those joining fora like this for the first time. (It is extraordinary that the author of an article tells a commenter to ‘shut up’.)
    Sites like these would not be thriving without a large measure of goodwill and civility from all involved – obvious trolls, shills and nerrdowells-in-general are usually identified and swiftly dealt with. It’s notable, and dispiriting, that the author of a well-crafted and thought-provoking piece has stooped to name-calling when anyone dares raise important issues outwith her own area of expertise – it also makes life easier for those who readily swallow official narratives to sweep all of us ‘internet bampots’ under the same ‘conspiracy-nut’ carpet.
    (If I may set my own wee parameter? I’ve referred to the author in the third-person. If she replies, I’d be grateful if she did likewise.)


  111. muttley79 says:


    It does not sound good about the chances of an appeal.  Has the JFM campaign thought about trying to hold a protest march in Edinburgh this year, possbily outside Holyrood (given it is the 25th anniversary of the bombing)? 

  112. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “territory declared off-limits by Rev Stu”

    I didn’t declare anything off-limits. I politely asked if people could refrain from talking about 9/11, because that’s an issue on which views are so extreme and entrenched that it’s never going to get anywhere, and all that’s going to happen is that tempers will get raised and there’ll be a lot of fruitless shouting and swearing. There was no underlying threat.

    Lockerbie is different – there is extremely widespread disagreement about what happened, and the pretty overwhelming consensus is that the official version is bullplop. Dr Kerr is mindbogglingly well-read on the subject and I value her evidence-backed views greatly, but I have no idea whether they’re correct or not. She just argues her case convincingly.

    And finally, Lockerbie has clear Scottish-politics implications. 9/11 doesn’t. This is a Scottish politics site, and as a general rule I’d broadly rather that things didn’t get discussed in the comments that wouldn’t be written about in a story.

  113. Morag says:

    I’ve suffered a lot over the years from being called all sorts of names by people who equate questioning the Lockerbie verdict with questioning the 9/11 narrative.  It’s very difficult to get some people even to read anything rational about Lockerbie, such is the ingrained revulsion over the very thought that a Moslem convicted of causing a US airliner full of people to crash into some buildings (more or less) might actually have had nothing to do with it.

    Hence my near-despair when the very second post in this thread was from someone pushing the 9/11 “truther” agenda.  As RevStu remarks, if the discussion was diverted into that subject, nothing but heat would be generated.  I didn’t spend quite a lot of time writing that article, to then spend the comments thread presenting the evidence of why Satam al-Suqami’s passport being found on the WTC pavement before the second tower collapsed was a fairly unremarkable and certainly not impossible occurrence.  And don’t get me started on explosions and nano-thermite. (You see, that’s not all that far outside my area of expertise.)

    I wasn’t the first to use the pejorative terms Ian complains of, and I would also point out that I didn’t simply “tell [Cameron] to shut up”, I asked him to “shut up about the Twin Towers”, after about the third post of his attempting to insert that subject into the discussion.

    RevStu has an admirable open-door free speech policy.  However, I’d point out that that also applies to me, and if people choose to drag 9/11 into a Lockerbie discussion I’m entirely free to say what I think of that derail, and what I think of fruitloops.  There there, that’s another pejorative term for you to moan about.

  114. Morag says:

    Muttley, do you remember RevStu’s article before our September march for independence?  “What if nobody came?”

    How many people would show up to a protest march about Lockerbie?  A derisory number, I suspect.  This is never going to be a mass movement.  The case is going to be made by pushing the evidence in the relevant faces, not by even a hundred or two people (actually I doubt we’d get anything like that many) waving placards.

  115. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    An arbitrary selection of stuff of the net. There is miles of it. It establishes that the shirt in which the fantasy piece of circuit board was supposedly found is the shirt supposedly purchased by al Megrahi  in Malta. As we know al megrahi didn’t buy a shirt in Malta and that he wasnt in Malta the day the shirt was supposedly bought I don’t know why we are even dignifying the circuit board evidence with a debate about it

    An investigation by BBC’s Newsnight has cast doubts on the key piece of evidence which convicted the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi.
    Tests aimed at reproducing the blast appear to undermine the case’s central forensic link, based on a tiny fragment identified as part of a bomb timer.
    The tests suggest the fragment, which linked the attack to Megrahi, would not have survived the mid-air explosion
     The fragment was embedded in a charred piece of clothing, which was marked with a label saying it was made in Malta.
    So the focus turned to Malta and the question of who had bought the clothes.
    The central plank of the case against Megrahi was the correlation between the bomb timers that had allegedly been sold to the Libyan authorities and a tiny fragment of circuit board found near Lockerbie.
    But who found the circuit board and when?
    At one point an unnamed former senior Scottish police officer said that he had planted the fragment at the crash site by order of the CIA.
    Another version of events states that the evidence was found by an unnamed Scottish worker in a field outside Lockerbie “on a misty morning in early April” 1989.
    Yet another says it was found “sometime in 1990” in a “piece of charred shirt” by the FBI’s forensic expert Thomas Thurman.
    The assistant director of the FBI forensic laboratory says the British authorities found the fragment a whole year before Thurman got it.
    And who identified the fragment as part of the timer?
    Some say Thomas Thurman, others a “veteran CIA analyst”, and yet others say the military forensic scientist Dr Thomas Hayes – who was at the heart of the investigation that wrongly jailed the Maguire Seven in the 1970s.
    So the key link with the Libyans – and so with Megrahi – was made in April 1989, or in June, August, October or November 1990 depending on your preference.
    Unknown to the judges, however, Giaka had an even greater pecuniary interest. From the first days of DCI Harry Bell’s investigation, letters from and discussions with the US Department of Justice were on the subject of multi-million dollar payments to Giaka. And what must Giaka do to receive the “unlimited money”? In the words of the US DoJ which Bell recorded in his personal diary, “only if he gives evidence”. The defence team and judges remained unaware of this throughout the trial and Al-Megrahi’s first appeal.
    Again, unknown to the judges, a secret and complete record lay hidden within the personal notebook kept by DCI Harry Bell of discussions, demands, and offers by the US Department of Justice of huge rewards to the only remaining identification witness, Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci. In the words of Dana Biel of the US DoJ, it was “unlimited money, with $10,000 available immediately”.

  116. muttley79 says:


    I would not underestimate the support there is for a independent public inquiry into Lockerbie in Scotland.  I believe if there was enough publicity beforehand then a lot more than a hundred would attend.  Obviously it is very difficult to now how many people would turn up.  This is not meant to be provocative but have you not been pushing the evidence in the relevant faces for decades?  They have just ignored it.  All I was suggesting was another approach.  It was made in good faith.  I wish your campaign all the best.   

  117. ianbrotherhood says:

    Rev, I didn’t use those numerals and have no intention of doing so – I’ve been involved in enough of these discussions to know exactly what you’re referring to re ‘tempers, fruitless shouting and swearing’ etc.
    I’m not trying to raise ‘that autumn day’ (as Vronsky nicely put it). I’m uneasy about the author of a WoS piece being allowed to hector and sneer at other posters in what should be a ‘discussion’. If you, I, Dr Kerr, Dave, Cameron, or any of the other contributors to this thread appeared in a public forum and delivered a lecture on this, that or whatever else, we would have to face questions from the floor. Some of the questions raised earlier on this ‘floor’ are perfectly valid – Dr Kerr does herself and her case no favours by being so rude to people who maybe – just maybe? – have more expertise in that area than she does.
    Dr Kerr then expresses frustration that she can’t get the information she knows ‘out there’. Oh well, join the club…
    I imagine Dr Kerr will eventually realise that, no matter how highly-valued her ‘evidence-backed views’ happen to be, they won’t cut a lot of mustard with those charged with maintaining the myth she seeks to explode.
    Yes, it’s frustrating. All that work? All those hours reading, searching, reviewing, and for what? To find the truth.
    The truth.
    How sad is it, then, to use ‘truthers’ as an insult?
    I wish Dr Kerr good luck with her work, and communicating it to the greater public, but I hope she also summons the common decency to allow others to do likewise.
    And finally, Rev – the taboo-subject doesn’t have ‘Scottish-politics’ implications? Seriously?
    Perhaps that one merits a WoS post all of it’s own…

  118. Morag says:

    Dave, yes, of course.  That’s all pretty unselective, mind you.  John Wyatt is unreliable because of proven fraud relating to a fake “bomb sniffing” device he was marketing, the ADE651.  Amusingly, a Newsnight piece about that scam not long afterwards had Wyatt on the receiving end.  John Ashton explains in his book that Wyatt actually didn’t have access to the results of the tests he was describing to the BBC, and he was making it up.

    The second piece is just a collage of mistaken assumptions about the fragment.  Someone says something, and it gets repeated, and hey, you can claim anything you like.  In fact the fragment wasn’t the central plank of the evidence against Megrahi.  It had little to do with him.  It was the central plank in the investigation’s conviction that the bombing was a Libyan operation, but it didn’t connect with Megrahi in person in any meaningful way.  He had had some business dealings with the manufacturer of the timers, unrelated to the timers, some time after the timers had been sold to Libya.  He had no connection to the sale of the timers, which happened over two years before Lockerbie, and was never shown to have had one in his possession.

    The central planks of the evidence against Megrahi were the Gauci identification, and his presence at Luqa airport on the morning of the disaster, travelling on a passport in a false name.

    The third segment is something I remember reading quite recently, because I almost emailed the author to point out the mistakes.  He’s got Giaka and Gauci terminally confused.

    Though really, I don’t know what point you are trying to make in posting that.  Of course Megrahi didn’t buy any clothes from Tony Gauci, so of course he didn’t buy a shirt from him.  More interesting is the sharp change in Tony’s story, from declaring several times that he didn’t sell any shirts to that man, “for sure”, to suddenly announcing that he’d just remembered he did sell the man two shirts, after the detectives had made it obvious that they were very, very interested in shirts. Neither of them was grey though, according to him.

    None of that is any evidence one way or the other to answer the basic, first question of whether or not either the PCB fragment or the shirt collar fell out of the sky.  And you haven’t said anything about the really crucial matter of the metallurgy results that weren’t presented to the court at Camp Zeist.  That is really the key to the issue, in my opinion.

  119. Morag says:

    Muttley, I appreciate the suggestion, and I realise it was made in good faith.  I just don’t see a public protest or march as being JFM’s sort of thing.  Bear in mind that it took weeks to get about 1600 signatures on the petition, and that was with a lot of cajoling and people signing from all over the world.  And all people had to do was fill in a short online form.

    At the moment, I place most of my hope in the allegations of criminality breaking the log-jam, as the same ploy did with the Shirley McKee case.

    If someone else organised a protest, I’d show up though!

  120. Morag says:

    Dave, have you decided yet when you think the plane took off?

    Do you agree the advertised departure time, which obviously appeared on timetables distributed worldwide, and which has never been disputed by anyone who was at Heathrow that evening, was six o’clock?

    Do you agree that the plane crashed at three minutes past seven?

    How long do you think flights out of Heathrow usually take to become airborne, after the aircraft actually pushes off from the departure gate?

    How long do you think a Boeing 747 would take to fly to Lockerbie, taking off from Heathrow?

    Based on your answers to the above, could you explain how it was that the plane would have been out over the ocean at three minutes past seven, but for being “delayed”?

    I’m just trying to get this clear.  Because frankly I can’t see any way short of warp drive that a plane with a nominal Heathrow departure time of six o’clock could possibly have been over any part of the Atlantic Ocean by three minutes past seven.

  121. Cameron says:

    @ Morag

    Have you hear of the “normalcy bias”?

  122. Morag says:

    Have you any special reason for asking?

  123. Diz says:

    Morag, sorry to be a pain again but my point about the canvas bag is that it would be less brittle and therefore less likely to shatter under explosive impact. The canvas bag is less likely to appear damaged than the brittle, hard plastic one. However it should be obvious which one is the bomb bag because the nature of the damage should be different. The damage to the bag in which the explosion took place should have more explosive residue on the inside while any residue should be more on the outside of the other bag. Anyway, with both cloth and plastic, it should be obvious by looking along the fracture lines where the fractures originated, inside or out. I’m not sure if there is enough debris from either to make a judgement but even with microscopic fragments the evidence should be obvious.
    I’ve not had a chance to look again at Mr Ashton’s book and the stuff you refer to might be at the appendices at the end. I’m not sure if I had a chance to read them all.

    Anyway, and I should have said this before, the article is excellent and it is good to see that there are people who are looking at this issue in an open and rational way. I think there is much more to 9/11 than we know about but any reasoned analysis falls at first base thanks to our viral friends!

  124. Dave McEwan Hill says:


    As I remember the plane took off about 5 minutes late but lots of stuff I had stored didn’t survive a change of computer. That alone would have left it still over land if the timer was set to cause the explosion when it did on the planes north westerly route
    Had it taken the direct western route it would of course have been well out in the Atlantic when it exploded. (I suppose it is a remote possibility that those who loaded the bomb assumed that would be the plane’s route. Remote, unlikely, but not impossible). Rather more likely is the possibility that the time advertised for the plane being loaded, closed and cleared for taxiing might have been mistaken for take-off time. Take off would have been twenty minutes or more after that. However I still suspect strongly on the balance of probabilties that the plan was for the plane to be blown up over the ocean and some mistake was made. When it came down all over Dumfries, Galloway and Cumbria (over 850 square miles) a huge problem arose which resulted in a totally confused and uncoordinated reaction by the US,the UK and the security services. And I still am inclined to take very seriously the theory that the US government has a huge dirty secret to hide here (and the UK Government is aware what it is)
    There is a huge conspiracy being covered up here and I don’t know why you describe in pejorative terms those who have theories about as “conspiracy theorists.” In this case we all are.
    It is clear to me that explanations which do not involve dirty work by the US are even less probable than those which do.
    And I have absolutely no reservations about the totally amoral capacities of those who presume to rule our world.

  125. Morag says:

    Diz, you are not being a pain.  (Except when you join in the cryptic hints about 9/11, of which I have seen enough reasoned analysis to sink the proverbial battleship.)

    I don’t know if it’s any help, but there are court production photos of the remains of both suitcases in this post here.  The canvas suitcase, which was a large one I believe, is undoubtedly more destroyed than the Samsonite hardshell.

    I don’t know whether there is any serious case to be made that the bomb was in the canvas case, which came from Vienna on a Lufthansa flight.  That was an early theory the investigators were quite keen on, as related in both David Johnson’s 1989 book and the 1990 Emerson and Duffy book.  I think Leppard, in 1991 also mentions it.  I have never seen any real reason to doubt the conclusion that the unaccompanied and unidentified Samsonite, which appeared to contain the Maltese-made menswear, was the one with the bomb in it.

    It has to be one of these two.  The canvas case, as I said, undoubtedly came from Vienna on LH1453 with Patricia and Karen, and can be seen on the Erac printout going through the automated system at 12.39/12.41.  It certainly was never anywhere near Malta or Megrahi.

    The brown Samsonite is the one Bedford saw in the container at 4.45, in the interline shed at Heathrow, before the feeder flight landed.  It was never matched to a legitimate passenger.  It also was not at Malta airport that morning.

    So no, I don’t see any reason to think the bomb was in Patricia’s case, and some reasons to think it wasn’t.  Including what I said about a bomb in the second layer (which is where Patricia’s case was) actually producing three pulverised suitcases, not two.

    If you have any serious reason to think otherwise, it would be interesting.

  126. ianbrotherhood says:

    Look at this:
    Morag says:
    5 January, 2013 at 12:15 am

    Diz, you are not being a pain.  (Except when you join in the cryptic hints about 9/11, of which I have seen enough reasoned analysis to sink the proverbial battleship.)

    (My underlining)

    Dr Kerr has brought up this subject more often than anyone else on this thread, while traducing anyone else who dared even hint at it. Perhaps she could refer us to at least some of the ‘reasoned analysis’ she’s read? 
    (Surely this isn’t O/T, if the author of the headline article is referring to it?)

  127. Morag says:

    Dave said:
    As I remember the plane took off about 5 minutes late but lots of stuff I had stored didn’t survive a change of computer. That alone would have left it still over land if the timer was set to cause the explosion when it did on the planes north westerly route.

    I’m not sure “five minutes late” is a meaningful concept when talking about a 7-hour transatlantic flight which was inevitably subject to the vagaries of the Heathrow tarmac queues.  It’s not quite like the 59 bus in that respect.

    Obviously, five minutes is neither here nor there as regards the position of the crash that night, except that Lockerbie itself would almost certainly have been spared.

    Had it taken the direct western route it would of course have been well out in the Atlantic when it exploded.

    Sorry, but you need to look at the map.  You are forgetting about Ireland.  It’s possible it might have gone down in the Irish Sea, depending on the exact take-off time and the exact route, but that’s a pretty small target to hit that way.  It might have landed on Dublin.  Here’s a good map that illustrates it quite well.

    (I suppose it is a remote possibility that those who loaded the bomb assumed that would be the plane’s route. Remote, unlikely, but not impossible). Rather more likely is the possibility that the time advertised for the plane being loaded, closed and cleared for taxiing might have been mistaken for take-off time. Take off would have been twenty minutes or more after that. However I still suspect strongly on the balance of probabilties that the plan was for the plane to be blown up over the ocean and some mistake was made.

    Again, if you look at the map, you’ll see that even another 25 minutes probably isn’t enough to be sure of clearing the coast – certainly not on the northerly route.  There is no possible way to argue an intent to lose that plane in Davy Jones’s locker short of some wild miscalculation of several hours.  Here’s another image that might help.

    I take it that you completely reject the notion that the 38-minute detonation was caused by a Khreesat-style altimeter-triggered device, then?

  128. Peter says:

    Many of you will know of the case of the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain from Ayers Rock, Australia, in August 1980, and the subsequent conviction of her parents of murder, based on shonky forensic work, etc. In 2012, a coroner finally ruled that Azaria had been taken by a dingo, and the Chamberlains fully and finally exonerated.
    What is interesting is that a policeman of my acquaintance said, during the initial investigation, “We know that she is guilty and we are going to get her.” This was before any trial, or testing of evidence, and reflects what we might call ‘the police mentality.’
    Perhaps this goes some way to explaining the obsession with finding Megrahi/Gadaffi guilty. They just “knew” that he/they were guilty, like Lindy Chamberlain.

  129. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    An altimeter triggered device obviously makes any notion that the bomb was loaded anywhere else but Heathrow bonkers.

    Still think the plan was to blow it up over the sea
    Still suspect strongly that the US knew about it or even was involved somehow in it

  130. Morag says:

    Another point to consider, Dave, is the question of possible flight delays.  This was midwinter’s night, in northern Europe.  The weather was pretty foul.  If it had been just a bit more foul, the flight could easily have been subject to a significant delay.  Indeed, the westerly gale delayed the feeder flight by about 20 minutes.  They managed to make that up on the hand-over and Maid of the Seas managed to get away on time, but another ten or fifteen minutes and the whole timetable would have been buggered.  The transatlantic leg had to wait for the feeder flight, regardless.

    Then again, the captain was so concerned not to miss his slot that he had the doors closed and the plane leaving the stand while the last passenger was still running for the gate.  Mr. Basuta’s luggage was on the plane.  Suppose the captain had decided he had to delay to sort out Mr. Basuta and maybe unload his suitcases?  Lost slot again.

    That’s just a sample of what can happen.  Mechanical failure.  Cock-up on the catering front.  Asthmatic child having an attack, and the captain decides not to fly until the whole family has disembarked.  (Actually that was PA067 at Frankfurt, and the delayed family was on PA103.  The “little girl in the red dress” – the asthma patient was her little brother.)

    So if you’re some sort of conspirator with a digital timer, and your intent is to lose that flight in the briny deep, are you going to bank, absolutely, on it taking off bang on time?  And then miscalculate in the wrong direction?

    Honestly, see the map I linked to in my previous post.  Any schoolboy would realise the timer had to be set for maybe eleven o’clock GMT, to allow for delays and still hit the ocean window.  It’s a big window.  I think it takes a special sort of incompetence to miss it, especially to miss it by setting the timer too early even for an on-time flight to make it that far.

    This is one of the principle arguments against an MST-13 timer having been used in the bombing, as alleged by the prosecution.  I take it you think that this was the way the bomb was detonated, even though you also believe the PCB fragment was planted?

  131. Cameron says:

    @ Morag

    I do not mean to be deliberately insulting, but I do feel that you are presenting evidence of your logic having been compromised by the normalcy bias effect. This is not to be unexpected, as the shock of that August, as well as subsequent events (specifically the War on Terror), has created a mass cognitive dissonance which has affected many of us around the world. In your case, the mass of horrific data you must have sifted through, may also have had some unwelcome effect on your subconscious.

    In case you are unaware of what the NB effect is, you could describe it as the chemical reward produced by the brain, in response to an individuals unconscious decision to believe in the status quo, no matter what their logic and scenes are telling them. Holding two contradictory views at the same time, provides a comfort zone in which certain individuals are able to function in the face of enormous challenges to their interpretation of reality.

    I have been looking for a line of yours that I wanted to quote back to you. Unfortunately I have not been able to find it, so my apologies if I am wrongly attributing it to you. It was the line where you imitated Star Trek’s Scottie, with his inimitable “ya canny brek the laws oh physics capt’n”. If I wished to be unkind to you, I might suggest that this is where you let yourself down with a clear hypocrisy ( Alternatively, I might suggest that you are ignorant of particular research, which I would assume as essential knowledge on which to base your opinion regarding events you hint at also having an in-depth understanding of. However, given the level of effort you have shown in your analyses of Lockerbie, in terms of the detail of investigation and your consistent demand for robust data, I think there may be a third way of looking at things (sorry, that was not political propagandizing). I think that you might be simultaneously holding contradictory views regarding what your research points to and what you are prepared to accept (i.e. a cognitive dissonance). Sorry if I rambled, but my day started at 3am.

  132. Morag says:

    Dave said:
    An altimeter triggered device obviously makes any notion that the bomb was loaded anywhere else but Heathrow bonkers.

    True, you’d think.  Except Feraday dreamed up a list of nine ways such a device might have been loaded at Frankfurt and still exploded on the second leg.  Then used that to conclude that a Heathrow loading could be safely discounted.  Still bonkers, of course, but that’s what happened.

    How he thought an altimeter device might have been loaded at Malta is not recorded, to my knowledge, although it seems that was the theory the investigation was working on for about a year.

    You might wonder if a major incentive to “find” a piece of a digital timer in the wreckage was so that a Malta loading was actually possible.  I couldn’t possibly comment.

    Still think the plan was to blow it up over the sea

    There is no way an altimeter device such as Khreesat was making was capable of getting a flight from Heathrow over the Atlantic.  The time delays he had available simply weren’t long enough.  The device would ensure that the bomb would stay quiet until the plane took off, so allowing for delays, but then it would go off about 35 to 40 minutes later irrespective of where the plane was – over land or sea.  Unless they got quite lucky with that little window of the Irish Sea, on the southerly departure, it would be over land.

    And anyone with a digital timer intending it to blow up over the ocean would have set it for about four hours later than that explosion actually occurred.  As I said, it takes a special sort of incompetence to get that one so very very wrong.

    Still suspect strongly that the US knew about it or even was involved somehow in it

    That’s a bit of a non sequitur, isn’t it?  Maybe they did.  But there’s no rational argument for saying whoever bombed the plane planned for the explosion to happen over the ocean.

  133. Morag says:

    Cameron, you are indeed rambling.  Psychobabble is no substitute for evidence.  You are also off topic.  I’m not interested in debating 9/11 in this thread.

    If you don’t have anything to say about Lockerbie, might I suggest you go talk about 9/11 to someone who wants to have that conversation? Or maybe get some sleep?

  134. Cameron says:

    @ Rev. Stuart Campbell

    I hope you will allow me this indulgence, as I have been very quiet.

    @ Diz

  135. Morag says:

    Peter, it’s interesting that you bring up the Azaria Chamberlain case in this context.  That’s a classic, and the Amanda Knox case looks set to join it in infamy.

    We could also mention the infamous IRA bombings convictions of the 1970s, forensic evidence provided by, among others – oh look, Thomas Hayes.  Who left RARDE about five steps ahead of the May inquiry and retrained as a chiropodist, but remained as an independent consultant in relation to Lockerbie into 1990, just long enough for it to be entirely possible his notes could have been doctored.  His evidence at Camp Zeist is a masterpiece of evasion.  I swear he had training.

    You put your finger on the crux of the idea I was trying to convey by my title.  Hanlon’s Razor.  Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.  But is the Lockerbie debacle adequately explained by stupidity?  Is it possible the cops simply missed the Heathrow evidence due to terminal incompetence, chased off to Malta because they fancied a bit of winter sun, and fortuitously found someone at the end of that blind alley who could be fitted up?

    I think there’s an element of that.  I think that once they had Megrahi in their sights, and had succeeded in getting Tony to point to the right photo, they were in exactly the mindset you describe.  They knew he did it, and everything was going to be bent to fit that theory.

    That didn’t happen until more than two years after the disaster though.  I have trouble with a lot of the stuff that happened before then, especially the way the Heathrow evidence was apparently wilfully ignored from only two weeks after the disaster.

  136. Cameron says:

    @ Morag


    You let yourself down badly with that one. What is your training in?

    In relation to the content of my posts, I think you will find that I have not made many posts and have not mentioned those events unless in my own defense. I have followed this thread in order to find out more about events that I admittedly know little about. I have not commented about Lockerbie as this is your show, and there are plenty of other posters who have made this thread possible. Adding my prior knowledge would have provided no benefit.

  137. Morag says:

    Cameron, you have been a constant, niggling presence in this thread since you made the second post, repeatedly making sly, oblique comments about a bunch of stuff I have no intention of wasting my time over.  If your intention is to learn about Lockerbie, that is a very strange way of going about it.

    I don’t need your approval.  I assume you don’t need mine.  There are many many spaces on the internet where I’m sure you are welcome to go on about nanothermite and morphed phone calls and vicsims and flyovers and holographic planes and “pull it” to your heart’s content.  I don’t think you need me to tell you where to find them, judging by some of the urls I just saw you post.

  138. Cameron says:

    Seriously, what is your training in?

  139. Cameron says:

    Morag, if that is not clear enough, what is the scope of your competence, professional or otherwise?

  140. Cameron says:

    @ ianbrotherhood

    I didn’t want to come across as a souk, but that was some powerful writing.

  141. Adrian B says:

    Absolutely cracking piece Morag. Thankyou for your insight into the Lockerbie bombing to date. I have been reading some of the JREF  stuff that you linked too as well tonight.

    Twenty four years after the event two things are still very clear to me – The chances of Megrahi being even remotely involved are incredibly thin and the identity of the real bomber(s) still unknown. More questions now than answers, but it has always been like this.

    Its funny how looking at some of this years later brings back some of the memories of similar details all those years ago. I can still remember where I was precisely at 7.03 PM that fateful evening (something your mind focuses on afterwards having heard the news) and I can recall the phone call from a school friend breaking the news to my family. Watching it on the news later that night and the images played back on TV and in the papers in the following days and weeks. The tragedy, loss of life and destruction in such an event are not forgotten. I am still stunned that the loss of life in the small town of Lockerbie wasn’t higher – those night shots of a town ablaze, looked to me at the time almost as scenes of the blitz from a WWII film.

    I sit here now writing this less than 20 meters from where i was that night. The weather now is calm, there is no driven rain against the glass panes on the side door or the single glazed side bay window and no smell of wood from the wood burning stove as it crackled away with the roar of draught from the front vent pulling the flames over the logs and up towards the chimney as was the case that fateful evening. I can feel the horror, disbelief, shock, sadness, numbness of that night as if it were yesterday.

    I am about 75 miles away from Lockerbie, but when an event that night happened I felt far closer. I thought at first it had been a terrible aviation accident, there had been a few around the world in my teenage years that I could then think of.

    Later sad news of a bomb on that aircraft made me think that the Scottish police would get to the bottom of the case and bring the culprits to book. Sadly I have never felt that happened, I never bought the news of Megrahi being involved back then – things didn’t add up, for this to be correct – no the culprit was someone else.

    In the days leading up to the result of the court hearing I was full of excitement that Megrahi would be found not guilty, and there would be a period of further investigation before another trial.  instead on the day of the court result being made public I was sure that a miscarriage of scottish justice had occurred. Angry and downhearted I thought again that more evidence would surely come to light and the perpetrators of the crime would be found and justice would be done.

    Almost quarter of a century has now passed since that sad December night and I don’t hold out any hope of this happening now, but I would at least like to see in time a few ‘in all probability – with the information available’ pointers as to the most likely candidates.

    I lost no friends or family that fateful night, but I do have grief – grief for the Scottish Justice system and a measured level of anger that there isn’t more Scots seemingly wanting to get to the bottom of this event and the complete sham of an investigation that led to the blighted court case that sent an innocent man to jail for a crime he did not commit and freed those that were behind it. Most of all I fear it has harmed Scottish justice.   

    I am looking forward to part two of the instalment. Depending on how this thread goes during Saturday. I may put forward some of my thoughts on certain parts of the case to see how credible you feel they may or may not be.   

  142. Cameron says:

    @ Morag

    Please do not think I am trying to hector you, as that is the last thing I would want to do. This is me being honest, hopeful, and it is definitely not meant as a passive aggressive niggle.

    I hope you choose to check my links out, as you may actually learn something. At least about what will be needed to ensure your information, and that of other researchers, reaches a wider audience. Regardless of whether your position remains unchanged or not, that is not important for the purposes of this discussion. Neither is it what you are concerned with, you have made that very clear. Please look around both sites, but particularly click through to and watch the first video.

    The only way I see the truth about Lockerbie coming out in my life time, is through a coalition of the people, across all party loyalties, demanding it. People who are concerned about their future, and that of their children.

    Academia and the chattering classes need to step up and speak out. Even if their competence is not directly relevant, they have friends and can influence others who do have competence.

    Scientists need to put their conscious/scientific curiosity/whatever, before their own ambitions perhaps. If they deserve the salary, they should have confidence in their own analysis.

    The voluntary sector, artists, non-professionals (I grew up when PC etiquette hit the fan), mums, aunties, everyone needs to at least take responsibility for their own futures. Education is the key. I would not know how this might come about, people learning, but that is not my particular field of expertise.

    Lockerbie trufers need to team up with the other kind of trufers, to see whether their are any common features between their tinfoil ten-gallons and bunnets. Perhaps there are lessons that can be learned. I think that is called comparative analysis. Have you thought about contacting I am sure they can give you some pointers in how to get your message out. After all, they have managed to evolve from loony-tune weirdos perceived to be on the fringes of society, to commanding quite a large audience now. I am sure they will speak to you even if you don’t support their position, though that would definitely require so pretty powerful Doublethink.

    As you yourself have asserted, there is widespread disquiet about the whole mess around what really happened at Lockerbie. The negative psychological effect this is having on Scotland is festering every year that passes.

    Perhaps one way this coalition could exert pressure for a new inquiry, would be to refuse to vote at the next general election. On mass. Get enough support and that might scare two shade out of all the parties. Is that completely mad, how dangerous would that be for the campaign? I am not sufficiently up on the realpolitik to see how that might play out. Hopefully, the ‘message would be supported by peer reviewed science challenging the official line, as well as high production media presentations and books. I know a lot of this is already happening, but we need more. Aren’t we a creative nation, it should not be beyond our ken.

    Does an inquiry have to be independent of the new SG? I think so. An open source project would help ensure the democratic credentials of the process, and would provide some measure of reputation independence. I am not saying that the SG should not have a role, but I think a precautionary approach should definitely apply to the degree of involvement. The finding will probably destroy whichever SG is in power at the time of publication, but I think that is a price worth paying, if any politicians are reading this. There seams to be general agreement that none of the parties are innocent, so the stigma will not be born alone.

    I hope I have not just bored you to death with a rehash of thoughts previously covered elsewhere. I hope also, that I have helped you in your attempt to achieve justice for all that were damaged.

  143. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    I too remember where I was that night. We were standing at the door of my pub in Argyll looking at the night sky when there was sudden flash in it to the south west .
    I though maybe Hunterston had gone up or something but we knew something big had happened.
    In all the years that have passed since the most tangible result to myself of the Lockerbie affair and the subsequent travesty has been it has made me understand that if there is an axis of evil in this world we are trapped in it and the worst part is that most of our people have absolutely no understanding of this.
    God only knows what burden those who knowe the truth about this carry and how they manage to rationalise this and excuse themselves

  144. Aplinal says:

    I have taken time to read through all the comments, especially the BTL contributions from Morag.  Thank you for this.  I have followed the Lockerbie disaster since the beginning, and my doubts were confirmed initially by Paul Foot’s piece (I think it is still available on the web?) many years ago.
    I too have no doubt in my mind that al Megrahi was innocent.  I will not simply repeat many of the excellent contributions and questions, but there is one which I do not recall seeing which relates to the reasons why the Iran angle was discounted.
    Morag, it was my belief that the Iran/PFLP-GC line was ‘dropped’ as Iraq was about to invade Kuwait and the allies needed Iran airspace for their attack. Is this another “urban myth”, or is there some other corroborating evidence that suggests realpolitiks has been the defining aspect of this whole affair?
    My abiding disappointment with the SG/SNP is their apparent “collusion” in maintaining the official line, when ALL the evidence points to a miscarriage of justice.
    @Cameron: While I also share some doubts about the official conspiracy theory you have raised from 2001, I do not think this thread is the best place to discuss them.  I would be delighted to discuss this with you on another thread, as I have some ideas about that particular criminal act as well.

  145. Vronsky says:

    “And finally, Rev – the taboo-subject doesn’t have ‘Scottish-politics’ implications? Seriously?”
    Yes, my eyebrows rather popped up at that one too.  You’d have to live on Mars for it to have no implications, and even then I’m not sure.

  146. Cameron says:

    @ Aplinal

  147. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    As I have no doubt that al Megrahi was innocent and that he was very deliberately framed (not a mistake a deliberate framing) the only important points as far as I am concerned is
    1. Lockerbie – why?
    2  Stitch up – why?
    We can debate for ever the fine points about fabricated evidence,nonsensical conclusions drawn from it and so on.
    Once it was established that there was no safe evidence whatsover which connects al Megrahi with the crime and once it has been established that even a single piece of important evidence has been cynically fabricated (as I believe it has, in spades) the whole prosecution is rendered invalid.

    Intuition is a bugger. It doesn’t matter in certain cases what anybody may put before me my intuition keeps telling me something else.

    Intuition is usually powered of course by lots of little nuances,and peoples’ behaviour and by inexplicable little bits and pieces

    This is why I  still very strongly suspect a wholly inconvenient explosion over the land was not part of the plan.
    This is why I believe that the US has a dark secret here which is the most logical way to explain its absolute determination to keep telling a huge lie.
    This is why I find the statement that the Scottish Government has no reason to doubt the safety of this conviction (when every sensible person doubts the safety of this conviction) inexplicable except in the context of some huge threat to it
    or its objectives

    This is why I think we must stop a pointless debate about this part of evidence or that part evidence and concetrate on not on how but why.

  148. Vronsky says:

    “concentrate on not on how but why.”
    Yes, although I think the answer might be scary. In general, the answer to ‘why’ is ‘outside pressure’.  So is the source of the pressure Washington, Westminster or both?  Does the pressure take the form of a threat or a promise?  Like you, I think well enough of most of the party’s senior figures that any threat or promise would have to be considerable, an existential threat to the SNP or to independence. It can’t just be some dirt they have on one or two senior people.  It’s something big and nasty.  But then,  Christine Grahame is vocal enough on this – did she miss a memo?

  149. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    If why can be established everything else will assume its natural place in all of this.

  150. Vronsky says:

    @aplinal. cameron
    Where?  Here.
    That is a link to a thread on the blog of Craig Murray, former ambassador to Uzbekistan, slandered and sacked because of his objection to the use of intelligence obtained by torture.  I suggest you read all the posts and check all the links – no point in repeating things already said.   You’ll see what I mean by the tendency of the topic to attract trolls and other spoilers, but some sort of discussion did manage to take place, although there is that distinct feeling of the pointlessness of a debate between science and theology.

    As I’ve said above, to accept the truth would be equivalent to a political revolution, so we’ll all have to be content to remain swivel-eyed loons, morons and whack-jobs (whatever the hell they might be) until the next American revolution. Wear your tinfoil hat with pride.  Eppur si muove.

  151. Aplinal says:

    Thanks for the link.  I had a quick look at some of the comments.  So far, no “tin-hats” to be seen, but it’s only the first page 😉  Did I see you posting there?

  152. Cameron says:

    @ Rev. Stuart Campbell
    This thread appears to be dead and I hope I am not seen as a cause of that. I had not intended to derail the discussion, or have any intention of steering it in any direction when I made my initial post.
    I am a big boy and so was not particularly concerned by the abuse that was directed towards myself. However, I am somewhat curious as to what your parameters are for what is and is not considered appropriate material. The reason I ask is that Morag appears to have suggested that I am prone to self-gratification surrounded by a porn-fest of 9/11 mumbo jumbo.
    and “pull it” to your heart’s content
    5th January, 1.50am

  153. Morag says:

    I too remember exactly where I was when the news about Lockerbie broke.  I had been watching the Channel 4 news while having my tea, on a tray in front of the TV.  The news was coming towards its end, and I stood up to take my tray into the kitchen.  I turned back at the door when I heard the “breaking news” flash, horrified.  There were no pictures by then of course.  It was about quarter to eight.

    I was in Sussex, a long way away at the time, but that was 21st December and on 23rd December I was due to drive north after work to spend Christmas at home in Lanarkshire with my parents.  I’ll never forget that journey.  Crawling past Lockerbie on the contraflow they’d rigged up on the unaffected northbound carriageway of the A74, well after midnight.  The vague impressions of horror mere yards away on my right, and the smell of burning in the air.

    I wish we could have had a proper discussion about my actual article.  I guess we did, in part.  But the article was about the Scottish police inquiry, and where it went wrong on a major point only three weeks after the disaster.  It was about concrete evidence which was always present within the inquiry showing that the modus operandi the police became convinced of was wrong, and something quite different had happened.

    It was about there being clear, demonstrable evidence available to both the investigation and latterly to the Crown prosecution which, competently and clearly analysed, demonstrates Megrahi to have been a thousand miles away from the scene of the crime that afternoon.  And yet this evidence was buried, and obfuscated, and fudged.

    This is a Scottish problem.  It was a Scottish police force who fouled up the investigation in the first place.  It was a Scottish sheriff in 1991 who listened to a Scottish Lord Advocate and turned a blind eye to the evidence that could have corrected that foul-up, instead giving the sight-unseen fairy-story of “better evidence pointing elsewhere that I can’t tell you about” his stamp of approval.

    It was a Scottish prosecution which assembled the evidence to be led at Camp Zeist, and re-evaluated everything I discussed above.  That Scottish prosecution was led at that time by the very same man, by then Lord Advocate, who had as Crown Counsel in 1990 exerted himself to try to discredit John Bedford’s evidence in the witness box in Dumfries, and get him to say he hadn’t seen a brown Samsonite in the container at all.  It was that Scottish prosecution that fudged and obfuscated the evidence from Heathrow so as to persuade the court to accede to a story that was clearly as full of holes as a Swiss cheese.

    It was Scottish judges who swallowed this mince, and sentenced a patently innocent man to life imprisonment.

    It was a Scottish appeal court that failed to correct this miscarriage of justice, and appeared content to rubber-stamp everything the original court had decided, no matter how perverse.  (And this is the one place in the saga where 9/11 might very well be highly relevant, if you examine the dates.)  It was a Scottish defence advocate who chose to mount that appeal using the wrong grounds of appeal, which allowed the appeal judges to do that.

    It was the Scottish criminal justice system that delayed Megrahi’s second appeal until 2009, and scheduled further delays even though they knew the applicant was dying of cancer, and in fact their scheduled timetable would drag the case on past his then-estimated life expectancy.

    Who do we blame for this?  Americans?  Jews?  The Illuminati?  Space lizards?

    Bear in mind the title of the article.  Is it possible none of these people actually realised that the Bedford suitcase was the bomb, provably?  Bear in mind that the defence didn’t realise either.  The defence didn’t realise at Camp Zeist, and they didn’t realise when they mounted the first appeal, and they didn’t submit any of that to the SCCRC in 2003, nor did it form part of the grounds of the second appeal in 2009.  MEGRAHI HIMSELF DIDN’T REALISE, and by the mid-2000s he was probably the biggest expert in his own case.

    It would have been interesting to discuss all that.  People wanted to discuss a different topic, which had nothing to do with my article.  Sometimes life’s like that.

  154. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Thanks, Morag.

    I don’ t have any intention arguing with anything you have said and your replies have contained huge amount of detailed information which I’m sure has startled quite few people.
    I merely feel the whys are the important questions

  155. Aplinal says:

    Don’t be too disheartened.  I have been interested in the case for a long time, and you certainly pointed out some things I was not clear on, or did not know fully.  So, even to that extent I think it was worthwhile.
    As for your disappointment about the, IMO, minor detour, I think that many posters were initially less concerned with involvement of the Scottish Justice system, than in trying to understand the basis on which you feel that the SJ has let us all down.  I do not think that the few posts on that topic really diverted the discussions.
    I agree with you about the police.  It is my abiding frustration that the 2011 majority SNP government for not immediately instigate a full public inquiry.  I can only assume that they were already planning to allow al Megrahi to die in peace with his family, and for realpolitik reasons did not want to open a can of worms.  Sometimes it seems that ALL politicians are willing to allow principle to be set aside for political expediency. 
    That the police investigation was amateurish (I am being polite) is with hindsight irrefutable.  Whether there was a ‘political’ dimension’ at the time?  Well, I can only reflect on the IRA injustices by the West Midlands police and wonder to what extent a “quick result” was necessary.  There are eery similarities between these different ‘investigations’. 
    Keep up the fight.  I have absolutely no doubt that al Megrahi was an innocent man, and I remain hopeful that some day the truth will be heard.

  156. Morag says:

    I don’t think we have a hope in hell of getting to the bottom of this, without discrediting the conviction on purely factual grounds.  One step at a time.  In my opinion it is worse than pointless to start alleging a massive international conspiracy at the highest levels, even to the point of US government collusion in bringing the plane down, while the court verdict stands.  It merely invites dismissal as a mad conspiracy theorist, and those in authority will merely point to the fact of the conviction, say they have no doubt it is sound and look at all the judges who agreed, and stonewall.

    This thread has been a sad eye-opener.  Not only are people I thought to be quite sensible apparently invested in one of the maddest conspiracy theories of our age, they want to discuss that rather than Lockerbie in a Lockerbie thread.  If we cannot discuss the detail of a particular point of evidence which is absolutely exculpatory, but would rather fire wildly off in all directions alleging all sorts of evil that is entirely impossible to prove, what hope for a public inquiry?  Rather than consider what I was actually saying, certain posters took it upon themselves to heap abuse on me for not subscribing to a conspiracy theory relating to an entirely different event.

    I don’t rule anything out on Lockerbie.  But I don’t rule anything in, either.  All I truly know is that the bomb was introduced at Heathrow, not Malta, and that Megrahi did not buy these clothes from Tony Gauci, and that PT/35b was never a part of one of the 20 MST-13 timer units Edwin Bollier sold to Libya in 1985-86.  I find it very hard to believe that the Heathrow evidence, in particular, was overlooked by mere incompetence, coming as it did very early in the inquiry before any set theory had been espoused.  The rest, yes, it could be no more than the classic “we know he did it and we have to make our case”.

    We need to have the road-block of the fact of the conviction cleared away, before we can get any further.  The full Heathrow evidence (plus the SCCRC report as it relates to the clothes purchase and the metallurgy results on the PCB fragment) have the potential to do that.  Once that is achieved, then the way is clear for other theories and possibilities to be considered, and those at the highest level will have no excuse to ignore them if they have merit.

    There is always the possibility that this was an enormous cock-up.  The Heathrow evidence seems so obvious to me, but it hasn’t been obvious to anyone else in the 24 years since it first began to emerge.  If none of the team of researchers Megrahi had on his case, and even Megrahi himself who had nothing to do for 10 years but think about it, didn’t spot it, can we really be certain the investigators did?  I don’t know the answer to that.  How terrible it would be if the possibility of rectifying something that was just a massive police mistake were to be thrown away due to an insistence that it must have been more than that.

    It saddened me enormously to see the very second post in this thread try to divert the entire discussion by asserting that the US government had in fact deliberately and with extensive pre-planning blown up the Twin Towers on 11th September 2001, and then have to struggle against constant and repeated attempts to get the discussion back on that topic throughout the thread.  Rather that hear what I was trying to say, posters preferred to take me to task and abuse me for not following their agenda on that unrelated (and I have to say long-discredited) taradiddle.

    If that is the level of thinking among Scottish people who appear to be politically aware, that worries me a lot.

  157. Dave McEwan Hill says:


    Be assured that your contribution is here is hugely valued.

    What is a basic problem is tha the vast amount of information at your disposal is not accessible to Mrs McGinty and it doesn’t matter how often it is put forward hoi polloi will not relate in any meaningful way. This is where the media comes in – or in this case doesn’t come in. Jounalese that is really effective is one of the highest arts. It is a facility to convey complicated facts in easily understood form,. Sadly most of our journalists are fully aware that Megrahi was innocent but continue at every opportunity to describe him as “the bomber”. They have become willing parts of the conspiracy. We need a simple format to get the information into every home. That is probably still newsprint. I know how that can be done

  158. douglas clark says:

    I would imagine that a lot of the silent readers of this post and this thread have, like me, been enlightened by what you have had to say here.

    Whilst I have always wondered how one co-conspirator could be found innocent and another guilty (eh!) I have never looked as closely at the evidence as you obviously have.
    It would be pointless for me to comment specifically on what has been said here, but your level-headed approach to the subject is somewhat at odds with people attempting to tie everything into a conspiracy.
    I used to amuse myself with conspiracy theories, it is almost fun to watch them grow and then die away.

    However, I used to read a site run by Rachel North who had been in the compartment on one of the tube trains that was blown up during 7/7. Her entire testimony was attacked by people who had an agenda that the simple truth wasn’t enough. It had to be something else. Rachel North had been there and was being treated as a hostile witness by these idiots. Quite frankly, it was sickening. No-one had the right to treat her like that.
    Conspiracy nuts play a game called handwavium whenever an inconvenient fact presents itself, and make mountains out of any molehills that they can find.
    Thanks for presenting your case in a straightforward and understandable manner.

  159. Morag says:

    David, I managed until June of last year with more or less only the material in the public domain, if you count the full trial transcripts.  I got a very long way on that, by looking for fact, fact, fact.

    My background in scientific research trains me to amass as much factual information as possible before even trying to formulate a hypothesis.  Thus I spent a long time reading as much as I could, simply for the facts included, without becoming too embroiled in the explanations suggested for these facts.  That led me to one hypothesis (as regards the Frankfurt baggage transfers) which was an absolute beauty and had JFM practically orgasmic.  Then I was given a single witness statement which proved I was entirely mistaken.  I dropped by beautiful theory and moved on.  That’s what you have to do.

    In June past, I was given a solid chunk of evidence not in the public domain, all relating to airport baggage handling.  That let me get a lot further and in fact confirm my hypothesis about the Bedford suitcase, but most of what I tell you is actually in the public domain.

    The trouble is, I think people are too ready to read the theories, and become enchanted by them without looking to see if they are supported by the facts.  They then become so wedded to them they won’t drop them even when new facts come to light that absolutely disprove them.  (Your own enchantment with the idea that the plane was “meant” to go down over the ocean is a case in point, I have to say.  And all the evidence showing that could not possibly be the case unless a digital timer was used, and an unbelievable mistake of about four hours was made in setting it, was in the public domain all along.)

    What I want to see is some headlines declaring “Lockerbie bomb was loaded at Heathrow!”  That is a very very simple narrative.  Bomb introduced at Heathrow, Megrahi was nowhere near the place at the time, could not possibly have had anything to do with it.  Police made fatal error in 1989 and eliminated Heathrow on a false assumption.

    It’s getting it through to the journalists that this is actually what happened that I find difficult.  I explain to them that the Bedford suitcase was definitely the bomb, and why Sidhu’s withheld evidence proves that, and they glaze over.  This article was another go at that, to see if the light bulbs would go on.

    Back to the drawing board.

  160. Morag says:

    Douglas, why was one man found not guilty and the other guilty?  That was the one solid question I was aware of, for about eight years after the verdict when I wasn’t paying a great deal of attention.  The rest of it was all weird shit about a blue Babygro and a suitcase full of drugs and a CIA badge and a missing body.

    There are explanations for the split verdict, but I swore to a journalist I wouldn’t tell any other journalist about it, because he is hoping to confirm it and get a scoop.  Since I promised, I have felt obliged not to repeat the explanation in public.  It’s not that big a deal, but it could be headlined as a scandal.

    Obviously the Crown had no explanation as to how the unaccompanied suitcase had been loaded on to KM180 at Malta.  In fact they had no evidence to show that had happened at all.  Megrahi was at the airport, but only as a passenger.  There was no evidence he had gone airside, and if he had he would have stuck out like a sore thumb.  The idea was that Fhimah, who had an airside pass, had actually done the deed.  Somehow.  But the Crown failed to prove that Fhimah had even been at the airport at the time.  (He was supposed to have given Megrahi a lift to the airport that morning, but he overslept.  Lucky man.)

    The whole judgement is a farrago of circular reasoning that would bring shame on an elementary student of logic.  However it seems that the idea at the end was that someone else unidentified must have done whatever it was that Fhimah was supposed to have done, leaving Megrahi looking at a life sentence.  Hence the continuing search for “accomplices”.

    I had forgotten about the Rachel North affair.  That was truly appalling.  There are some nasty ones relating to 9/11 as well, with relatives who spoke to their loved ones on the phone before the planes crashed being accused of lying about it as part of some huge cover-up.

    As I said, I spent some time a few years ago debating this stuff with some “truthers”, in the company of people who had made a huge study of the actual evidence and were able to chew them up and spit the remains on the carpet.  As you say, it all ends in the handwavium evasion, because nothing will separate them from their preconceived narrative.  I’m seriously disturbed to realise how many of these people there are on WoS.

    That was my starting point for Lockerbie.  None of my friends who were full of encyclopaedic knowledge about 9/11 had the first clue about Lockerbie.  I thought again about the blue Babygro and the suitcase full of drugs and the CIA badge and the missing body, and it all began to sound horribly familiar.  I began to wonder if all that was just as much crazy conspiracy theorising as the 9/11 rubbish about the passport and so on.  But then I remembered the split judges’ decision, and wondered again.

    I decided I would try to become as knowledgeable about Lockerbie as my friends were about 9/11, and see where it led.  I quite fancied the role of “Lockerbie debunker”, and had no real preconception about which way it would go.  It went the other way, without any doubt whatsoever, and I began to feel very very concerned about the Scottish criminal justice system.

  161. Morag says:

    I suppose I should say, just to balance the scales, that I don’t dismiss the possibility of a huge evil conspiracy behind Lockerbie.  I just don’t assume it.

    At one end, there is the possibility that the whole thing was nothing but police incompetence in the early stages in excluding what should have been a gift from the gods in the form of Bedford’s evidence.  Then they got more and more mired in red herrings and blind alleys, until at the end they found a plausible suspect at the end of the blind alley and fitted him up in the firm belief that he must have done it.  That’s the “adequately explained by stupidity” part.

    On the other end, there are conspiracies ranging from a simple intent on the part of the Scottish police not to implicate Heathrow and have to hand the case of the century over to the Met, to a deliberate cover-up of something the US authorities absolutely do not want to get out.  I have some fairly strong reasons for believing that they did not know in advance that plane was going to crash, but apart from that, there are all sorts of possibilities. That’s the question mark at the end of the title.

    In my view, however, the approach that is going to work is the one that alleges the least amount of wrongdoing by the authorities.  Little-league wrongdoing, in order to get a conviction against the suspect they “knew” had done it, is one thing.  We’ve all seen that, everybody knows it happens.  Piling in in the first instance alleging something equivalent to the 9/11 delusions, is going to get us cast into the outer darkness along with the rest of the fruitcakes.

  162. Adrian B says:


    Please don’t despair. As has already been said in this thread, stories often move from the narrative of the original story through to other things quite quickly, often with other more interesting links.

    I understand now better where you would like to take this story, the type of evidence to link to and talk about. I don’t think that I am the only one here that this applies too.

    This thread is now two days old and had gathered 160 comments. It has not yet ‘burned’ out, but rather slowed – perhaps this is a good thing and the ones really interested in following will now be able to do so now that there are many more stories above this to comment quickly upon.

    One thing that I was a little worried about when I posted my first comment here in the early hours of this morning was taking this story to a ‘Lockerbie bomb loaded at Heathrow conclusion’ – swivel eyed nationalist headline making accusations would surly follow. To a degree I still think that this might be a problem in the wider press, but we are far from that point. I am now, several hours later feeling much more relaxed about such a prospect.

    You had in the past read quite a lot about Lockerbie, some times making comments in the early hours of the morning with ‘Arbroath’.

    You clearly have been involved in some ways of this case for quite some time and your links with the case and indepth knowledge intrigue me. Its clear that you write from a clear a reasoned knowledge of studying, sifting through information to put together the important grains of truth and fact out there on other peoples computer screens.

    One thing I would add about the widely held belief of Pan Am 103 is that it was supposed to blow up over the Atlantic – an understandable thought perhaps if you believe that this was planned to that level of detail – however this little ‘nugget of reasoning’ has no proof behind it what so ever, far from it in fact – its nothing more than reported story filling by the press and is one of many legends of information that surround this case.

    As for Government conspiracy/knowledge/planning of this event that is something that the title of this piece has more in common with than any actual fact based reasoning could probably share common ground with.

    Once again Thank you for the contribution here to date. I look forward to more discussions with you on this subject across Parts one, two and three?  


  163. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    I am entirely with you here. The journalists and the media’s behaviour is entirely deliberate. They know al Megrahi is innocent as do our leaders and other politicians.

    For some of the media initially the refusal to acknowledge his innocence was part of an attempt  to damage the SNP. This did not work. In fact I believe it was counter productive and in the eyes of informed people damaged the media and , more importantly, politicians and through that politics in general. 

    But another fact emerges. The majority of people in Scotland, whether they believed al Megrahi was guilty or innocent or held no view on this, supported his compassionate release. All of civic Scotland and every poll done in newpapers,all the churches supported his release by a wide margin and the political parties which tried to attack the SNP on this in fact again did more damage to themselves instead.
    But what is also very clear is that the “quiet majority ” in Scotland do not put this issue very high on their list of issues which determine their political positions.
    That is perhaps regrettable but I think it is political fact
    I do suspect however that  the biggest casualty in this affair to date in political terms has been to the Labour Party,and its committeed informed support, already reeling from Iraq.
    The enervation of the Labour Party in Scotland proceeds relentlessly.
    I’m wandering a bit here. Back to topic.
    What I am trying to pull together here is the political reality. I am absolutely disgusted by the evasion preventing a proper legally determining inquiry. Most people are not. They may suspect  al Megrahi to be innocent  but, hey, he was released ANYWAY. Good on you, Kenny
    Against that the mass of information collated by yourself – and many others -, if put into every house in this area, would have a marginal effect unless the presentation was such that it made compelling reading in an easy to understand format that was offering up the real villains or a plausible conspiracy. 
    That is not going to happen in the face of present media behaviour unless hoi polloi can be made sufficiently interested.
    This is why I mentioned journalese and newsprint. A huge proportion of our people are conditioned to read news in newspaper format. That is probaly the only way that sufficient interest can be revived among the general population to give this issue the weight that it needs to provide the political pressure for that inquiry.
    And, of course , if it could be established in the minds of all people that without doubt al Megrahi was innocent we would be a whole lot nearer to forcing out the truth.
    In the interim it occurred to me that if the SNP is under pressure to avoid raising a public inqiry because of what it knows that is a two edged sword which imposes as many difficulties and weaknesses on Cameron and the US as it does on the Scottish Government. What is the quid pro quo?
    You mentioned you were returning home to Lanarkshire at one point. Are you by any chance a hamilton academical? 

  164. Morag says:

    Adrian, I think I am in fact the only nationalist on the committee of Justice for Megrahi, although there are several among the wider “signatory” membership including Christine Grahame and Aonghas MacNeacail.  I was headhunted for my knowledge of the case, not my politics.

    This allegation is being promoted not in my name, but in the names of a group of half a dozen people, including Professor Robert Black and Dr. Jim Swire.  Whatever ruse is used to discredit it, “swivel-eyed nationalist” isn’t going to be it.

    The “plane would have gone down in the Atlantic if it hadn’t been late” meme is as you say mere story-filling.  I am however amazed at how resilient it is.  It’s obviously mistaken, you only have to look at the timings to realise that.  Once one knows that the scheduled departure time was six o’clock and that the captain actually deliberately stranded a late passenger to keep to that time and not miss his slot, it’s perfectly clear.

    And yet Jim Swire still comes out with it, as if on a spinal reflex.  David Benson included it in his excellent play “Lockerbie, unfinished business”.  I was talking to him in the bar afterwards, and said, you do realise David, the plane wasn’t late.  He said to me, what, are you telling me it took off at six o’clock?  I said no, it left the stand a couple of minutes after six, taxied around to the runway, queued up, and its wheels left the runway at 6.25.  Have you ever been on a plane which levitated into the air the minute the doors closed?  He looked a bit pensive at that.

    It’s funny to see the rationalisations from other quarters though.  One BBC documentary figured out that the latest it could possibly be was ten minutes (if it had a clear run straight to the runway, which doesn’t really happen at Heathrow), but still held to the scenario.  To this end they proposed that the plane was just about to make a fairly sharp left turn at Lockerbie, and nine minutes later would have crossed the coastline of Ayrshire.  So the bomb had been timed to go off a minute after clearing the coast, if the plane had left at the very earliest moment physically possible!  I’ve heard people vehemently supporting this.  Of course transatlantic flights don’t make sharp left-hand turns over Dumfriesshire.  The flight plan for the flight is in the public domain, and in any case that flight path is easy to look up.  Ten minutes later it would have been over Glasgow.  Which is a nasty thought, as it happens, but in fact a 6.15 takeoff from a 6.00 gate departure time is unlikely for Heathrow.

    The silly thing is, it’s not that relevant in a lot of ways.  If a altimeter timer was used, then the plane would have flown for that 38 minutes no matter what time it actually took off.  Often the people who are saying that it would have flown further if it hadn’t been late are in the next breath proposing that an altimeter timer was used!

    It’s mainly relevant as a point against the whole digital timer assertion, and so a point to be added to the pile of supposition evidence suggesting that PT/35b was a plant.  I have a sneaky feeling that the meme was promoted by people who support Megrahi’s guilt, to explain the ridiculously early detonation of the bomb in the flight time.  As I explained above, any terrorist with a digital countdown timer would have set it for maybe 11 o’clock (depending about how concerned he was about the plane coming down in the trackless wastes of Labrador), to ensure the thing didn’t explode harmlessly on the tarmac in the event of the plane missing its slot.  Megrahi was a qualified flight dispatcher – that was his actual job for several years.  He of all people wouldn’t have made that mistake.  However, if you spread a vague story that the plane was very late, hinting at hours, because it would have been “far out over the Atlantic” when it crashed, otherwise, that anomaly goes away.

    It’s also relevant as regards Dave’s assertion that the US authorities planned the whole thing, and hoped to lose the evidence in Davy Jones’s locker.  It’s absolutely perverse to maintain that explosion was “meant” to happen mid-Atlantic.  You have to postulate a digital timer, and then someone so brain dead they set it four hours too early.  And then, that accident and the fact that the plane was on time, just fortuitously sent the plane down at a time absolutely compatible with one of Khreesat’s altimeter devices.

    It’s just an illustration, but do you see what I mean about the importance of thinking things through properly, and being led by the evidence rather than a pre-conceived theory?

  165. Aplinal says:


    Just once again to thank you for sharing your knowledge of this affair.  Do you think that the Heathrow aspect was ignored because at that time it would have reflected badly on the UK and the Government?  Is it a realistic proposition to suggest that the government (of whatever party) would ‘happily’ condemn a man to life imprisonment simply to avoid becoming an “inadvertent” accomplice to this tragedy? 

    I think that they are quite capable of this, but am interested in whether your research has an answer to that glaring anomaly.  

  166. Adrian B says:

    Dave McEwan Hill

    Agreed, good common sense comment.

    I think one of the big problems for the Scottish Government is that are damned if they do and damned if they don’t in many ways as regards the Lockerbie case and the release of Abdelbaset al-megrahi on compassionate grounds. The release was seen as a political gesture by Opposition MSPs in Edinburgh, condemned by politicians in Westminster and jumped on by American politicians in the USA up for re-election.

    McKaskill had a hard job being heard putting forward a clear, coherent case for his reasoned argument for his decision based on the facts that he had at the time. Salmond came in for criticism in allowing his Justice minister to make such a decision- all this time the media were having a field day replaying the Saltires on the tarmac back in Libya. Apparently America thought the decision was outrages, London politicians in Westminster were outraged and the opposition in Edinburgh were also enjoying the airtime willingly supplied by the BBC and print media at decrying the SNP for releasing the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing!

    Off to watch Borgen for the next two hours – more later on this subject. 

  167. Morag says:

    Aplinal, you raise a question I would give a minor body part for the answer to.  I do not know why the Heathrow evidence was ignored.  I have tried very hard to persuade myself that it was overlooked due to terminal incompetence, but I have failed.  I believe it was intentionally ignored.

    I can think of a number of possible reasons, from the leaders of the investigation not wanting to give it up to the Met, to Maggie Thatcher wanting to protect the British aviation industry (and the share price of the recently-privatised BAA) at the start of a recession, to instructions from the CIA.  I still cannot see how it would be possible to persuade or compel any police officer to do what appears to have been done.  Maybe it was something else.

    My other top questions are, did PT/35b fall from the sky?  (And if I’m being greedy, who made it and what purpose did they make it for?)  And, whose luggage was in baggage tray 8849 at Frankfurt?  (That’s the tray the investigators decided had held the bomb suitcase en route from the Malta flight.  Obviously it wasn’t that, but it’s still a huge anomaly that strains credulity that it was a mere coincidental coding anomaly.)

    If I knew these answers – well, I’d know what questions to ask next, at least!

  168. Morag says:

    Dave, I am not persuaded that Salmond and MacAskill know that Megrahi is innocent.  For one thing, I find it hard to believe they would so vehemently insist that they do not doubt the safety of the conviction, if that was the case.

    Salmond’s biographer David Torrance opines that Salmond genuinely believes Megrahi to be guilty, for what its worth.  I rather think he may be right.

    Bear in mind that neither Salmond or MacAskill are Lockerbie anoraks.  They have other fish to fry, like not only running a country, but leading that country to independence.  I believe that is quite time-consuming.  I believe they are taking their cue from Crown Office briefings, which portray the case as solid, the little problem with the identification evidence reported on by the SCCRC as a technicality, and those who believe Megrahi to be innocent as tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists.  Look above in the thread for some of these, and see why it’s so easy to dismiss arguments by lumping their proponents with these people.

    This makes it harder, but not impossible.  And maybe I’m reluctant to believe that Salmond and MacAskill are so dishonest, but I don’t.

    By the way, although I got an eleven-plus results letter sending me to the Academy, I didn’t actually go there.  Due to my erratic performance at primary school my parents were afraid I might blow the test on the day, and sent me for an entrance exam for Hutchie.  They had already accepted that place when the eleven-plus results came through, my 11-year-old self was kind of sold on the idea, and off I went on the train.

  169. Adrian B says:


    Whatever ruse is used to discredit it, “swivel-eyed nationalist” isn’t going to be it.
    Good, glad that you feel that way although my point was actually on the smaller stage of this WoS piece and how its discussion might leak out into the real world – so to speak.

    And yet Jim Swire still comes out with it, as if on a spinal reflex.
    Many otherwise intelligent people miss simple points such as this. Its a bit like when you land. The time the wheels touch down is very different to the time that you walk out the terminal doors.

    Blowing a plane out of the sky 5 miles or so up would make most evidence hard enough to gather. Anybody wanting to claim to be behind the act would not need to hide timers after the event. Anyone who did not claim to be behind the act, but who had previously made threats would knock it out of the sky – it would not need to be over water to hide evidence. The over water theory seams to suit the conspiracy theorists better.

    On the other hand you could argue that bringing a plane down over land makes much more sense to a terrorist group as it makes a bigger visual mess – good idea when making a point against aggressive foreign governments? But then why not bring a plane down over the USA if it was a tit for tat move?

    If a altimeter timer was used, then the plane would have flown for that 38 minutes no matter what time it actually took off.
    Strangely not the case – although this fits from the German timers. This does point towards the German timers being used however and that still means that they were loaded from Heathrow. It would be equally possible to design, build and plant one of these to go off within a shorter or longer time frame. My original belief for the altimeter assembly would be that it was the trigger assembly that would be triggered when the ambient pressure within the aircraft hold reached say 31,000 feet. These discussions that I have read describe this mechanism being activated as soon as the aircraft left the tarmac and climbed up into the sky.

    It’s just an illustration, but do you see what I mean about the importance of thinking things through properly, and being led by the evidence rather than a pre-conceived theory?
    I do understand, one of the problems is sifting through all the available information and making sense, having understanding of what that information is able to tell you.

  170. Morag says:

    By the way, Adrian, have you asked yourself where they got these saltires they were waving on the tarmac?  Biggish flags, if I recall correctly.

  171. Morag says:

    Adrian said:
    Strangely not the case – although this fits from the German timers. This does point towards the German timers being used however and that still means that they were loaded from Heathrow. It would be equally possible to design, build and plant one of these to go off within a shorter or longer time frame. My original belief for the altimeter assembly would be that it was the trigger assembly that would be triggered when the ambient pressure within the aircraft hold reached say 31,000 feet. These discussions that I have read describe this mechanism being activated as soon as the aircraft left the tarmac and climbed up into the sky.

    I should have been clear, I was talking about if a Khreesat timer with a 30-minute capacitor had been used, which is what the timing of the explosion indicates.  If that was the case, then the plane would have fallen after 38 minutes irrespective of take-off time.  Khreesat also had at least one 45-minute capacitor, but I don’t think any longer.  I don’t think they cared where the plane was when it blew up so long as it was airborne and high enough for a catastrophic decompression.

    Obviously it would be possible to build devices on that principle with longer delays.  One might even hypothesise the use of a digital timer rather than the capacitor, but the actual time of the explosion indicates that wasn’t done.  Feraday also hypothesised that a modification might have been made to allow the device to start from Frankfurt and only go off on the second ascent.  Again, possible, but no such device was ever found (and they didn’t ask Khreesat if he’d ever made such a thing when they interviewed him in Jordan in late 1989).

    However, your suggestion of setting the altimeter for cruising altitude wouldn’t work.  It took me a little while to get my head round this myself, but I finally got there.  The entirety of the aircraft is pressurised, including the cargo holds.  It’s like a huge balloon, and it’s designed that way.  The pressure in the hold only drops to the cabin in-flight level, at the same time as the cabin does.  That’s when you feel your ears funny.  Once the cruising pressure has been reached, it doesn’t go any lower.  So an altimeter set for 31,000 feet would never get there, in the cargo or baggage hold.

    The change in pressure that the altimeter in these devices relies on occurs at the very beginning, and it’s all over by ten minutes into the flight.  Practically speaking, the things had to be set for an altitude below the virtual “altitude” of cabin pressure (about 8,000 feet), to be sure they triggered.  This altitude would be reached about seven minutes after the wheels left the tarmac.  Then, as I said, Khreesat had capacitors wired into the devices to introduce sufficient further delay to let the plane reach cruising altitude – and defeat the pressure chambers at the airports designed to detect the crude devices.  Thirty minutes was a popular delay time.

    Maid of the Seas fell out of the sky at 19.03, her wheels having left the tarmac at 18.25.  Thirty-eight minutes.  Go figure.

  172. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    For what it is worth I don’t think guilt or innocence has anything to do with Salmond and McAskill’s behaviour over Lockerbie.
    I taught in Hamilton for some years. My grandfather was dux at Hutchie around the turn of the last century and was John Buchan’s buddie. He was an NPS then SNP man and insisted that John Buchan was a nationalist.

    My goodness, this has been a very stimulating thread.

  173. Adrian B says:

    My other top questions are, did PT/35b fall from the sky?
    Well if it did it certainly could not have been one of the twenty timer assemblies that was supposed to have come from in Libya. The lead/tin question and tests that were carried this out show this not to be possible. That being said, the only other explanations are a different unknown batch or fabricated boards – no further information trail to follow? Or a different batch, manufacturing run/copy board that was placed to be later found as part of the debris – a plant in other words.

    Who would do such a thing? That depends who benefits from a speedy solution. I would hazzard a guess at UK or US secret services. There is no further information trail either way 

  174. Morag says:

    Dave, do you know Sandy Sharp, chemistry teacher?

  175. Morag says:

    Adrian, there are several possibilities for PT/35b, from the suggestion that the Libyans had some cheap knock-offs made from the last of the originals when they ran out (as we know they did), to the CIA made it using their captured timer as a prototype, in order to plant as evidence, and ballsed-up the tinning.

    Or maybe it was a bit of somebody’s pocket calculator.

    There is more information, and a neat little case that says it was introduced into the evidence chain in January 1990, but nothing incontrovertible, nothing you could take to the papers or to the police.

  176. Adrian B says:

    Scottish Saltires

    Most of these are probably made in China. I am sure that you could pick a few up on the internet quite easily. Failing that a trip down any city high street has plenty tartan tat shops that sell them ten a penny.

    Thanks for explaining a little better that 747s are pressurised in the luggage hold and how the timers worked.

    I have a question that you could perhaps explain better about the luggage introduced at Heathrow. Bedford claimed two suitcases – was he mistaken? 

  177. Dave McEwan Hill says:


    That was a long time ago before I went off to Africa in 1972. Most  of teachers I knew in Hamilton are long gone now

  178. Adrian B says:

    Regarding the timers again. There was some testing done in the USA, using the toshiba radio cassettes and baggage (Sorry if I’m getting mixed up here, but bear with me please). Out of the testing regarding similar explosive devices. Did any part of the timer mechanisms survive the explosions – the reason that I ask is that the destructive force of semtex would have made quite a mess – what chance is there that parts of the timer mechanisms could have survived?

  179. Morag says:

    Dave, Sandy just turned 70.  Pretty sure he was there at the time you say.  But if you don’t remember him, never mind.

  180. Morag says:

    Internet deliveries.  How long would a delivery to Libya take I wonder?  Tartan tat shops.  In Tripoli?

  181. Morag says:

    Adrian said:
    I have a question that you could perhaps explain better about the luggage introduced at Heathrow. Bedford claimed two suitcases – was he mistaken?
    I don’t think there was a second brownish suitcase. I think Bedford mainly looked at the left-hand one, and bear in mind we only have colour vision at the centre of our visual field. I think the right-hand one was Charles McKee’s dark grey Samsonite hardshell, and Bedford mistook the colour slightly due to his eye having been mainly caught by the odd “antique copper” finish on the left-hand one.

    The right-hand suitcase would have been close enough to the explosion to suffer significant explosion damage. There is no other unidentified explosion-damaged suitcase that might have been the right-hand one, brown-ish hardshell or not.

    My “best guess” explanation for the second suitcase is that the terrorist, whoever he was, approached the container carrying the suitcase with the bomb packed asymmetrically along one side, intending to load it flat with that side as close into the lower part of the overhang as he could achieve. That would put the IED as close to the skin of the plane as possible. I hypothesise that he may have been slightly thrown to find all the cases in the container in an upright row across the back.

    I think he kept to the plan, and put the Samsonite flat on the floor to the left, tucked as far into the overhang as possible, and then worried about the position. It may have looked a little odd, and there was nothing to prevent the hard shiny case sliding to the right – or being slid to the right by someone adding more luggage.

    I think he then pulled the case that matched his suitcase most closely from the row at the back, and used it to fix the position of the bomb suitcase, preventing it from sliding to the right. I think he then rearranged the cases in the row at the back to some extent to disguise the fact that it was now one case fewer, and Bedford didn’t notice.

  182. Morag says:

    Adrian said:
    Regarding the timers again. There was some testing done in the USA, using the toshiba radio cassettes and baggage (Sorry if I’m getting mixed up here, but bear with me please). Out of the testing regarding similar explosive devices. Did any part of the timer mechanisms survive the explosions – the reason that I ask is that the destructive force of semtex would have made quite a mess – what chance is there that parts of the timer mechanisms could have survived?

    So far as I know, yes, there was debris, but I don’t have a definite reference for that.  More importantly, when the defence had similar tests done some time in the last decade, there were bits of debris too.  Despite John Wyatt saying on TV that there weren’t.

    Bear in mind that Semtex produces a very hot explosion, but it lasts for a very short time.  That short duration allows things to survive that you wouldn’t expect to survive that temperature.

  183. Morag says:

    I posted, to Cameron:
    I don’t need your approval.  I assume you don’t need mine.  There are many many spaces on the internet where I’m sure you are welcome to go on about nanothermite and morphed phone calls and vicsims and flyovers and holographic planes and “pull it” to your heart’s content.  I don’t think you need me to tell you where to find them, judging by some of the urls I just saw you post.

    He’s been bleating about this post ever since, and I didn’t understand what he was on about.  The penny has finally dropped.  He obviously isn’t as au fait with the 9/11 “truth” narrative as he would have us believe, and perhaps that is entirely to his credit.

    Some time after the incident, the fire chief in charge of fighting the fires in WTC7 was interviewed on US TV, along with the mayor Rudi Guiliani.  In the course of that interview he described the realisation that the effort was futile, and only endangering firemen’s lives to no benefit as there were no civilians left in the building.  He accordingly took the decision to withdraw the firefighters and let the fire take its course.

    When recounting this decision, he used the phrase “pull it”.  In context, he appears to have been referring to his decision to pull the operation – that is, get the firemen out.  Truthers have ever since used this interview to claim that he admitted live on air that WTC7 was deliberately demolished, by use of explosives.  Because to “pull down” means to demolish a building by pulling down the walls with ropes or in similar ways.

    I thought Cameron, as a truther, would recognise the allusion.  No other meaning for the term occurred to me.  Being a girl and all.

    Now, {{{{ blush }}}}

    Oh, and tee hee!

  184. Morag says:

    I meant to reply to this earlier.
    Morag, it was my belief that the Iran/PFLP-GC line was ‘dropped’ as Iraq was about to invade Kuwait and the allies needed Iran airspace for their attack. Is this another “urban myth”, or is there some other corroborating evidence that suggests realpolitiks has been the defining aspect of this whole affair?

    That was Paul Foot’s thesis, but there are problems with it, which he himself acknowledged in an article in the London Review of Books.

    The main problem is that the internal reason for the apparently sudden switch to Libya was the identification of PT/35b as (supposedly) being part of a Libyan timing device.  However, although the Scottish police weren’t told until September 1990, the actual identification was made in June 1990.  Not only that, the fragment itself had been in the chain of custody, incognito as it were, since at least January 1990.  This is all a bit early to have been linked to the Kuwait situation, which didn’t blow up until July/August.

    It’s quite possible that the whole thing was very welcome for exactly that reason, but it isn’t tenable to suggest that PT/35b was fabricated for this purpose, as some have suggested.  It can be traced back too far.

    In fact there is a thread running through the entire investigation which suggests a desire on the part of the US to blame Libya.  Reagan went off on one on day 4, threatening to bomb Libya in retaliation.  (That’s even earlier than the “the bomb was on the feeder flight” assertion, which doesn’t appear in the press until day 9.)

    However, along with the “the bomb came from Frankfurt” assumption was all the baggage about Autumn Leaves and the PFLP-GC.  By day 9 they were already the prime suspects, as a lot of people put 2 and 2 together and got approximately 4.

    But then there was Bollier’s surreal “catch-letter”, delivered on the very day Bush took over the presidency (20th January 1989), blaming Libya.  He said he was told to write it, hinting at CIA instructions.  Of course he says anything, but the letter exists.

    Then one of the PFLP-GC gang, “The Professor”, was erroneously said to be Libyan.

    Then Tony Gauci said the man who bought the clothes in the bomb suitcase was Libyan, on 1st September 1989.

    Nobody seems to have taken any of that seriously until PT/35b was identified as being of Libyan origin.  Then they went with it.  The CIA passed the D&G a couple of pictures of Megrahi in January 1991, and the following month (just as the FAI was delivering its findings) they persuaded Tony to pick out the less good of the two pictures from a photospread.  Then the CIA passed on hints that led to the discovery that Megrahi had been at Luqa airport on the morning of the disaster, exactly where the D&G had believed the bomb was smuggled into the baggage system since about August 1989.

    This all makes a rather different pattern to me.  I don’t know what it is yet, but I think the association with Operation Desert Storm in January 1991 was probably no more than a happy coincidence.

  185. Aplinal says:

    Thanks for resolving my questions.  You have clarified quite a number of things for me which I never really had the time (or to be honest, the inclination) to find out for myself.  I should be rather embarrassed about that!
    All the best for 2013, and good luck with JFM securing a more open inquiry into this sorry affair.

  186. Nutcracker says:

    It occurs to me that Camp Zeist was not the only location where sworn evidence about the events of that fateful day was given.  It would have been given too at the civil case in the USA between the relatives and Pan Am, as well as at Scotland’s own Fatal Accident Inquiry. And wasn’t there a Presidential Commission too?

    It would be interesting to know what additional evidence came out there in relation to Frankfurt as well as London.  Presumably, the full transcripts of the daily submissions to those inquiries / trials are available somewhere.  And they must be public documents.

  187. Morag says:

    Nice one, Nutcracker.  Very perceptive.

    I’ve tried to compare the findings of all of these, but it’s not easy.  The report of the PCAST committee is online, and seems to lean heavily on an earlier FAA report.  Its reasoning with respect to the Frankfurt luggage transfers differs markedly from the Zeist reasoning, although favouring the same conclusion.  It’s very early, of course.

    Only small excerpts from the civil action in the USA, and the subsequent appeal, are online, and again they make fascinating comparison with the PCAST and Zeist presentations.  I can’t find anyone who will tell me much more about that, though I think this area might hold important clues to the Frankfurt luggage conundrum. (Lester Coleman’s bizarre novel Trail of the Octopus covers some of it in the closing chapters.)

    The findings of the FAI are online, but not the transcript.  I only have the transcript for the day Sidhu testified.  It was heavily stage managed, that is obvious from the sheriff’s findings, but all the evidence necessary to show the Bedford suitcase was the bomb was presented there.  The sheriff just seems to have followed the Crown agenda, and believed their heavy hints that they had incontrovertible evidence they couldn’t bring to court showing the bomb coming through Frankfurt, so please don’t pay any attention to anything else.

    I agree, it would be fascinating to be able to make a full comparison of all that material.  I suspect it would be a study in constantly shifting ground, as the previous ground collapsed under their feet.  And all to prevent the suitcase seen at Heathrow being identified as the bomb.

  188. Nutcracker says:

    Would the transcripts of at least the first two have been Crown Productions at Zeist, and so available in electronic form perhaps?

  189. Morag says:

    The transcription of the FAI hearings was a Crown production at Zeist, but only a few selected parts were referred to and read into the Zeist transcript.  Bedford’s evidence at the FAI was read in, including the part where Andrew Hardie tried to shake him and get him to say the suitcase he saw wasn’t brown and might have been blue.  (What was that all about, then?  At a Fatal Accident Inquiry?)  Conspicuous by its absence was Sidhu’s testimony, which was replaced by a bunch of people speculating freely about what Sidhu might, possibly, have done.

    The only part I have of that is Sidhu’s day in the sun, and it’s a poor quality PDF clearly from a scan of a printed page which has been scribbled on before being scanned.  (Interestingly, the bits where Sidhu clearly says he didn’t reposition the Bedford suitcase at all have been heavily underlined by someone.)  I am not aware of an true electronic copy of the thing.

    So far as I can tell, the Zeist proceedings didn’t acknowledge the US court hearings at all.  One place where that material could have been very informative was Kurt Maier’s testimony.  He wasn’t called to the FAI because he was part of the evidence the Crown decided to keep under its hat in 1990.  He spent a long time in the witness box in America in 1992, although I gather there were translation problems.  In 2000 he was terminally ill and in a very sorry state indeed.  I still wonder if he was affected by the 1992 hearings having saddled him with the blame for the tragedy.  However, all that was produced in court relating to his testimony was witness statements he had given way back at the start.  His 1992 testimony under oath in America (in which he tried to explain that he did not see a radio-cassette player in any of the 13 interline items he x-rayed for PA103A) was not referred to at all.

    The best way to find what is available on the US hearings might be to google with “Pagnucco” in the search string, because his was the “test case” used for the damages claim.  The American Buddha web site has some material, and there’s more on a site called Open Jurist.

  190. Vronsky says:

    Attention has moved away from this thread now, so I hope I won’t be accused of hijacking.
    “In context, he appears to have been referring to his decision to pull the operation – that is, get the firemen out.”
    How very disingenuous.  Here is the full context:
    “I remember getting a call from the fire department commander, telling me that they were not sure they were gonna be able to contain the fire, and I said, ‘We’ve had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it.’ And they made that decision to pull and we watched the building collapse.” (my emphasis)
    Don’t you realise that you render Silverstein’s statement even more suspicious by your reluctance to quote it in full?

  191. ianbrotherhood says:

    Vronsky, I hope Dr Kerr responds to that – it would be great if she could also provide some indication of where we might find the ‘reasoned analysis’ she found so convincing. (An author? An official report? A book-title? A website? Anything?)

  192. Morag says:

    Oh for goodness sake.  Go away and promote your delusions somewhere where they’re on-topic.

  193. ianbrotherhood says:

    It was worth a try!

  194. Diz says:

    Maybe it’s getting a bit late for this too but since Morag has been so patient and accommodating, at least with those who stick to Lockerbie, I’ll give it a try.
    I am a bit uneasy about one aspect of this and it’s been preying on my mind. Mr and Mrs Horton of Longhorsely farm, near Morpeth, speak of finding a lot of debris in the land around their farm on the morning after the crash. It all seems to be light stuff, christmas cards, letters and what they described as “personal effects” of the passengers which I assume were also very light in weight.
    On the face of it, we should not be surprised some pieces of paper from 103 turning up there. Although they lived over 60 miles from Lockerbie, the winds that night were very strong and items leaving the plane immediately after the explosion would have fallen independently from over 30,000 feet. However the Hortons talk of their land being “littered” with such debris and they filled a number of carrier bags with it.
    I cannot believe that all these cards, letters etc would have “clustered” in this way, 60 miles away from the site of the explosion (over 66 if my pythagoras is still working). After all there were no stories of debris littering English soil generally; there just wouldn’t have been enough paper and light debris on the plane. So why so much on their farm at Longhorsley?
    I have considered the possibilities. A large bag filled with the stuff falling from the place and rupturing on impact with the ground: but that bag would be too heavy to blow across the border and the debris should have been found about Newcastleton where the scraps of clothing from the primary suitcase were found. Or, the geography of the area was such that the farm acted as a kind of “filter” for light debris blowing through, eg hedges or a wood which would catch the items as they blew down: but the Hortons describe the land being littered rather than the hedgerows or trees.
    Of course all this would be no big deal if it wasn’t for the fact that it was amongst this debris that the Toshiba manual fragment was apparently found. Although I have read other accounts (that Decky Horton found a full Toshiba manual, that she found only paper that she did not even identify as being anything to do with Toshiba, that she found paper with only the partial “hiba” on it) she seems to be sure she saw the word “Toshiba” on the piece of paper and concluded that it related to a cassette recorder. 
    Ms Horton later expressed concern that the piece of paper was significantly degraded when she was asked to identify it again in court, in pieces and with the word Toshiba almost unreadable. The excuse, that forensic and fingerprint tests had left it degraded, seem dubious to say the least; forensics should not significantly taint, never mind nearly destroy, the item being examined.
    It also appears that the police themselves asked the Hortons to collect the evidence which I find quite incredible. Mr and Mrs Horton were keen to assist but they put all the evidence together in bags, including the Toshiba maual fragment, thus contaminating every item they found.     
    I would smell a very big rodent were it not for the fact that the Hortons found the debris on the day after the disaster, not enough time for anyone trying to doctor the evidence to arrive there and plant their own stuff.  
    Maybe it’s all just something else which is adequtely explained by stupidity but does anyone have more info about all this? I know that there are some concerns that the Toshiba manual fragment was planted or at least switched after the Hortons handed it in but I don’t see that there is much evidence for this. However, it is the apparently huge amount of debris clustered around this particular remote site which I find difficult accept.
    Remember, there appear to have been only two suitcases torn apart in the explosion so it is likely the cards and letters came from the fuselage of the plane (ie not the luggage). Was all this stuff positively traced to 103? Is there any evidence that the cards, letters and manual fragment were ever on the flight?

  195. Diz says:

    Sorry, it says “undefined” but the comment above is from Diz.

  196. Morag says:

    You bring up an area that I’ve been over quite a lot in other discussions, and never come to any firm conclusion about.

    My impression is that it wasn’t just the Hortons’ land that had debris from the plane on it, but that it was scattered all over.  It possibly wasn’t as thickly scattered as Decky seems to imply, and no doubt there would be sweetie wrappers and whatever among it.  I think we might be talking the contents of mail bags here.  Bear in mind the plane was carrying mail bags as freight.  It some of these had come open when the plane blew apart, it could have produced that effect.

    I believe there was a general call for people in the vicinity to litter-pick their own property, because there simply wasn’t the manpower to do a police fingertip search of the entire affected area (as was done closer to the crash site).  People were bringing bags to the police station, and I think Decky said that between them she and Geoff handed in two bags.  Whether they were full or not I don’t know.  I’m assuming Tesco carrier bag sort of thing.

    So far, so plausible, I think.  All this happened on the Thursday morning, so I think it would be fairly swivel-eyed to suggest some sort of grand conspiracy underway at that time.  And a pretty unlikely scenario for anyone to fake!

    The question really is whether the piece of Toshiba manual really did somehow come from the bomb suitcase, and somehow got mixed in with the Christmas cards and so on.  I’m agnostic.

    First, is it actually possible?  The manual is presumed to have been packed in the box with the radio, that is right up against the Semtex.  Could any of it have survived?  It seems implausible, but the intense heat flash from Semtex is very quick, and it was cold up there, so I can’t be absolutely sure it was impossible.  I have huge doubts, but not so far as to be certain.

    Second, was the court production actually what Decky picked up?  Memory is a funny thing, and it’s not impossible she reconstructed a more complete manual in her mind than she actually handled.  On the other hand, the court production really is in tatters.  It’s almost torn through.  It’s hard to see how you could pick that up off wet grass and not have it come apart in your hand.  If you succeeded, it’s hard to see how you could “remember” it as being almost intact.

    I’m going to post Decky’s full court testimony in a separate post, for ease of reference.

  197. Morag says:

    Q Mrs. Horton, what is your full name?
    A Gwendoline.
    Q And what’s your address?
    A Southward Edge, Longhorsely, Morpeth, Northumberland.
    Q And do you live there with your husband, Robert?
    A Robert Geoffrey, yes.
    Q Do you remember coming to learn that there had been a crash of an aeroplane in the Lockerbie area on the 21st of December 1988?
    A Yes.
    Q When did you first learn of that?
    A I think, if I remember rightly, we heard it on the news that night. And then the following morning a neighbour confirmed that this had happened.
    Q On that following day, did you notice something around the area where you lived?
    A We did.
    Q What did you notice?
    A Just what we thought was just debris, possibly from a passing car or something.
    Q Yes.
    A Until we were aware that there was also a lot of debris in the fields surrounding our house. Yes.
    Q And was there a suggestion made to you as to where that debris might have come from?
    A Yes. Our neighbour, who had come up for a coffee, said it was — she understood it was from the plane that had crashed, and that all the local farmers were collecting it in the fields.
    Q So having learned that, what did you yourself and your husband do?
    A We went out with the specific idea of collecting this stuff, because this neighbour had said to hand it in to the police. So we went out to collect what we could.
    Q And did you hand material in to the police on that day?
    A I can’t remember if it was that day or the following day.
    Q How many times did you hand material in to the police?
    A Twice.
    Q And how did you carry this stuff once you’d gathered it?
    A Just in a carrier bag, I think, at the time.
    Q I would like to ask you about one item in particular. Do you remember coming upon a document of some sort that made reference to a radio cassette player?
    A Yes, I do.
    Q Can you describe what that item was like?
    A Well, from what I remember, it was possibly about — I know I’m supposed to say it.  About that kind of size, you know, about possibly eight by eight, or something like that, inches.
    Q Could you see writing on it?
    A I could see writing, because I remarked to my husband, “This appears to be from a cassette player,” or something like that. I do remember it was something electrical.
    Q And did you hand that item in to the police?
    A Yes, that went into the bag as well.
    Q Right. I wonder if you would look, please, at Label 24. You’ll see there is a bag which contains items there. Do you recognise anything?
    A Well, not in its present state. I’m sure when I handed it in, it was in one piece.
    Q Yes.
    A Yes.
    Q Perhaps — I wonder if it could be put on the document imager, to see if we can see it.
    You can see within the police plastic bag, I think as [966] you’ve described, more than one piece of a document. And you can at least see writing on it?
    A Yes.
    Q Do I understand you to say that when you handed it in, it was in one piece?
    A It was in one piece, sir. I am practically sure of that, yes.
    Q But apart from that, you recognise the item?
    A Yes. Uh-huh.
    Q Whereabouts did you find that item?
    A In the fields — we are a private house on the roadside. In the field opposite, they are known as the glebe fields, and it was in the bottom glebe field, down beside the burn, down in the bottom. In the dean.
    Q Thank you very much.
    LORD SUTHERLAND: Mr. Taylor.
    MR. TAYLOR: If Your Lordship could give me one moment, please.
    My Lord, I have no questions for the witness. Thank you.
    LORD SUTHERLAND: Mr. Macleod.
    MR. MACLEOD: I have no questions, My Lord.
    LORD SUTHERLAND: Thank you, Mrs. Horton. You are free to go. Thank you for coming.
    THE WITNESS: Thank you.

  198. Morag says:

    So she claims to remember actually picking up that individual item, and to have remarked on it to Geoff at the time.  However, when you look at the thing, there’s not much writing.

    The words “cassette player” are indeed recognisable on the fragment, though “Toshiba” isn’t easy to make out.  The fragment is more like 10 or 11 cm by 8 or 9 cm – certainly not 8 inches.  And it’s very fragmented – as I said, I don’t know how you’d pick that up from wet grass and still be under the impression it was nearly intact.

    Decky actually doesn’t identify the thing.  But Bill Taylor didn’t cross-examine her on it.  Bill Taylor didn’t do a lot of things he should have done.  Why did Megrahi get palmed off with this tenth-rate guy?  Why not get Joe Beltrami or some real heavyweight defence advocate?

    The story was that the piece of paper had been sent for fingerprint testing, and they had done some rather destructive testing on it.  Sounds a bit fishy to me, does fingerprint testing usually do that to a piece of paper?  However, it was definitely recorded as having been photographed before it was sent for testing.

    Why didn’t they simply produce this provenance in court, with the photographs of the paper before it was sent for testing, and ask her if that was how she remembered seeing it?

    The other oddity is that the policeman she gave the stuff to also testified to recognising the fragment as what Decky handed to him.  Except, he said nothing about it being in a different condition then.  So was it changed or wasn’t it?  Why don’t they produce the original photos?  (To be honest, I suspect the policeman had no idea what Decky handed to him, and was just saying what he was expected to say, so I tend to discount his testimony completely.)

    There’s something not right about this, but I can’t go as far as to say I’m certain that tampering took place.

  199. Diz says:

    Thanks Morag, I think I accept what you say generally though I’m not sure of your mailbag theory. Is it accepted that the flight was carrying mailbags? And if it is and some contents were spilled from the plane at the time of the explosion why does Mr Horton tell the Sunday Sun “We were finding Christmas cards written by the bairns on board, letters, personal effects, things like that. Quite harrowing”?

    It does seem strange that only one scrap from the manual is recorded and it just happens to be the piece which suits the Libya theory. Could it be that other paper scraps were not recorded and photographed as they weren’t considered to be of evidential value? Could they all be lying with the rest of the plane in that yard near Lockerbie which the Prof posted about on The Lockerbie Case a couple of years ago? Maybe we should just go down there and start poking about in all the old poly bags. Who knows what we might find? 

  200. Morag says:

    Here’s the English copper’s evidence, just for completeness.  He was first up after Decky.

    Q Mr. Walton, what is your full name?
    A Brian George Walton.
    Q And are you a retired police constable?
    A That’s correct.
    Q We can record your address, for court purposes, as care of Dumfries and Galloway
    police. Of which police force were you a member?
    A I served with Northumbria police, stationed at Alnwick.
    Q And when did you retire?
    A 1985.
    Q What age are you now?
    A Sorry, 1995.
    I am 52.
    Q And when you retired in 1995, how many years’ service did you have?
    A Twenty years.
    Q In December of 1988, were you at that time stationed at Alnwick?
    A That’s correct.
    Q Do you recall the night in which the Pan Am 103 aircraft crashed?
    A Yes, I do.
    Q In the period thereafter, did members of the public bring items of debris to the police
    station at Alnwick?
    A That’s correct. Or we went out to various locations and collected debris.
    Q In some cases would people contact you and advise you that there was an item to be collected?
    A That’s correct, yes.
    Q And on other occasions did members of the public attend at the police office with material?
    A That’s correct, yes.
    Q Would you look, please, at Label 24. Is that an item which has a police label attached to it?
    A That’s correct, yes.
    Q Of which force is the police label?
    A Lothian and Borders.
    Q Do you recognise the item that’s attached?
    A From my recollection, it’s a handbook, pieces of an instruction handbook.
    Q Do you remember that item being handed in to you?
    A Yes, I do.
    Q Was it a lady who handed it in to you?
    A That’s correct, yes.
    Q Mrs. Horton?
    A That’s correct.
    Q And when you looked at the item, what struck you about it?
    A It had tiny bits of singeing on some of the edges of the pieces. At that time, obviously — it was either the day after or the following day, either the Thursday or the Friday; at that time it didn’t have significance from — that it obviously might have now, with hindsight knowledge.  But at that time, I mean, it was just — to me, it was debris possibly from the aircraft.
    Q And do I take it from that answer that it was handed in to you within one or two days after the —
    A I can’t remember offhand whether it was the Thursday or the Friday. So that would be the 22nd or the 23rd.
    Q And what did you do with it?
    A Together with other pieces that Mrs. Horton handed to me, I bagged the stuff individually.  Again, I can’t remember now the full list, but there was this item, which I would place in a bag very — I don’t know if that’s the original bag, but in a bag marked “Northumbria Police” —
    Q Is that bag marked “Northumbria Police”?
    A Right.
    Q Right. What did you do with the items once you’d bagged them, and with that item in particular?
    A They were registered in the property register at Alnwick police station. The property was put — kept in the store there and eventually went to the incident room at Hexham police station, where they were collating everything from Northumbria area.
    Q Thank you.
    LORD SUTHERLAND: Mr. Taylor.
    MR. TAYLOR: No thank you, My Lord.
    LORD SUTHERLAND: Mr. Macleod.
    MR. MACLEOD: I have no questions. Thank you, My Lord.
    LORD SUTHERLAND: Thank you, Mr. Walton. That’s all.

  201. Morag says:

    Diz – Oh yes, the flight was definitely carrying mailbags.  Some of them had cancelled money orders or stuff like that, leading to the rumour that a huge amount of cash was found!

    I don’t see how Decky could have known who wrote the Christmas cards.  It was all very upsetting.  It’s easy to jump to an unwarranted conclusion.  Christmas cards and letters sure as hell sounds like a burst mailbag or two (or six) to me.  “Personal effects” could be anything, really.  Quite how a fragment of paper from the actual bomb bag managed to get in among that is a different question though.

    That wasn’t the only part of the manual found.  The other part is a whole different, and far murkier question.

  202. Diz says:

    The only thing we can be sure about what fell there is that it was very light and it left the plane almost immediately after the bomb went off. I’d be surprised if there was even any clothing fragments amongst it except those of very light weight. Do you know which intact bag fell furthest down the southern debris trail? I believe if it was possible to reconnect every piece of debris to its original piece of luggage you could identify the bomb-bag without resorting to forensics simply by observing where it landed and looking at the fracture lines on the luggage skins.

  203. douglas clark says:

    Morag, Diz,
    I am absolutely astonished that an explosion that was able to down a 747 would not have completely destroyed all fissible material in the immediate vicinity. Was the luggage pallet or whatever it was recovered? It, obviously, did not contain the explosion. Yet bits of paper right next to this semtex survived?

  204. Morag says:

    Diz, that’s why I think the debris Decky described was from mailbags that came open when the plane disintegrated.  I can’t think of any other explanation for a batch of (mainly) “Christmas cards and letters” being found as described.  It’s possible a scrap of paper from the bomb suitcase might have joined it, I suppose.  It seems possible the manual fragment might have been fabricated or tampered with but I don’t think there’s anything close to proof.

    This was a long way beyond the main debris trails, which were defined by pieces of the actual aircraft.  PT/35b was (allegedly) found about the furthest end of the southern debris trail, about 20 miles west of Lockerbie.

    I don’t think you could deduce any real detail from the distribution of the luggage fragments.  Someone did post the sector numbers the various bits of the brown Samsonite were found in, but I don’t know that there’s much more detail than that.  It’s not as if every single fragment was found.  I doubt if the total remains of the bomb suitcase found amounted to as much as a quarter of the entire case.  And the wind was very strong and gusting.  stuff would get pretty well mixed up within local parameters.

    They were able to tell which suitcases had been in AVE4041 though, from the position they fell.  They were Frankfurt online and Heathrow interline luggage.  Most of that was found in one general area, including the blast-damaged bits.  A few were found where the debris from the tail section had fallen, which correlated with the later-arriving Heathrow interline cases that were too late to go in the container (five of them) and about eight that were left over from the feeder flight when the container was full.  That group, both interline and online, was loose-loaded in a rear compartment.  Having that information is invaluable in confirming what was and wasn’t actually put in the container in the interline shed.

    But no, I don’t think you could take it to the degree you suggest.  I don’t see any reason to dispute the conclusion that the bomb suitcase was the brown Samsonite.  Especially since it explains everything, and it’s utterly destructive to the Crown case.

  205. Morag says:

    Douglas, although it sounds unlikely, all the aviation experts agree that’s exactly what happened.  The plane was destroyed by explosive decompression, not the initial explosion.  It’s been described as similar to what happens if you burst a balloon with a pin.

    The explosion itself wasn’t that large.  It was just really really bad luck the bomb suitcase was put so close to the skin of the plane!  (Or, really, the terrorist was able to put it where he wanted it and nobody moved it.)  I do have reservations about that piece of paper, but trial explosions carried out by both defence and the investigators all left fragments consistent with what was found.

    The luggage container was recovered – that was the first thing that let them realise it was a bomb.  The evidence of the state of the bits was damning.  It wasn’t a particularly robust structure.  There are plenty photos of it on the net.

  206. Diz says:

    Morag, I think I may have given too much credibility to Mr Horton’s words as “quoted” by the Sunday Sun. When he talked of “Christmas cards” and stuff written by the kids on the flight I pictured cards and letters outwith their envelopes (ie within the passenger section of the fuselage) but thinking about it, your explanation is much more likely. We have to remember that Mr Norton was speaking many years after the event.
    I find it very frustrating that so much of the evidence is so imprecise but I’m sure this is mainly down to the nature of the tragedy rather than design by the investigators. Maybe this is why so much faith is placed by some in “eye-witness” accounts like Mr Horton’s and the guy who “saw” the intact plane “gliding” to earth at Lockerbie. Of course, we will be reminded that if we can dismiss their accounts we should also be prepared to question those of Manly, Bedford etc. This is why yours and others stubborn, surgical, reasoned analyses have been so important here as it all could have degenerated into confusion and conspiracy long ago.

  207. Vronsky says:

    On at least one topic, and therefore one must suspect there could be others, you cannot engage with evidence.  You speak of your ‘background in scientific research’.  Is a statement like “Oh for goodness sake.  Go away and promote your delusions somewhere where they’re on-topic” your idea of cautious scientific argument?  You’re lucky I wasn’t your course tutor.

  208. Morag says:

    Vronsky, and other truthers.  This is a thread about Lockerbie.  I have done my share of “engaging with the evidence” on the other matter, elsewhere.  I know how that conversation can spiral out of control, fracturing into multiple strands even more than Lockerbie.  This thread is entirely inadequate even to discuss one aspect of the Lockerbie evidence, and anyone expecting to use it to promote an agenda about an entirely different event is being disingenuous at best.

    We have established that Cameron, at least, believes that the Twin Towers were deliberately blown up with explosives by the US authorities, and God alone knows what else.  We have established that you and a couple of other people broadly agree.  We have also established that I think you are a bunch of delusional fruitcakes, and that I have no interest in co-operating with your tenacious attempts to derail the thread.

    And I for one intend to leave it at that.

  209. douglas clark says:

    The Rev Stu has said a few times that he is interested in publishing relevant articles. Perhaps you should submit one and stop trying to take this thread off topic? Just a suggestion.

  210. Morag says:

    Diz, the Hortons are also interviewed in a TV documentary which is online.  That and the newspaper article are post-Zeist though, and we don’t know how much the reporter or the researchers might have added to what was by then an old memory – even inadvertently.  I’m also a bit wary that pre-trial interviews might have made suggestions to them, even if nobody was doing it on purpose.  This was a pretty fleeting little episode which was already 12 years in the past by the time of the trial, and they weren’t professionally interviewed about it in the days or weeks afterwards, which would have helped fix an accurate recollection.

    I tend to put most faith in what was said in the witness box, and it is suspicious.  Decky doesn’t verify the provenance of that piece of paper.  They could and should have shown her a photograph of the pre-fingerprinted production, if it was significantly changed, but they didn’t.  That shredded scrap doesn’t look like something someone could have picked up off wet grass and imagined it was a complete, nearly intact page.

    It’s cause to question it.  I stop short of being certain it was tampered with.

    I do question Bedford’s evidence.  But he was interviewed pretty damn soon after the crash, and he knew within a very few hours of dealing with that luggage that the plane it was loaded on had fallen out of the sky.  That concentrates the mind.  Also, there is no motivation for him to have invented that suitcase.  Quite the contrary.  Given that the entire story could have (and should have) led to him being labelled as the man who let the Lockerbie bomb on to the plane, it would be understandable if he’d kept his mouth shut.  And he said “brown Samsonite hardshell” weeks before the forensics team even began to suspect that the bomb suitcase had been a brown Samsonite hardshell.

    I don’t hold much store by Manly’s actual evidence, I set store by the incident report he wrote up and filed, sixteen hours before PA103 even took off.  The rest of it is just people with an agenda trying to break down this unwelcome revelation.

    The thing about the brown Samsonite suitcase is that everything cross-checks.  Bedford’s evidence, the forensic evidence, Sidhu’s (and Sahota’s) evidence, and the baggage reconciliation.  It all fits together to form a simple pattern and a simple narrative, without having to decide that anyone was lying, or grossly mistaken, or leaving any significant loose ends.  I’ll question anything, but I won’t reject evidence when there’s no reason to suspect there’s anything wrong with it.  They couldn’t possibly have fabricated everything!  Logically, most of the evidence will be uncontaminated, especially this early stuff that appeared in the first month.  Which is just as well, otherwise we might end up wondering if a plane crashed at all.

    Lockerbie no-planers!  I’ve yet to spot one of these.

  211. Camreon says:

    @ Morag
    “We have established that Cameron, at least, believes that the Twin Towers were deliberately blown up with explosives by the US authorities, and God alone knows what else.”

    Once again you show a stunning willingness to assume that you know what I “believe”. You have no grounds on which to base such an ill disciplined accusation, as I did not make any indication as to who I “think” the guilty party might be. Not a particularly scientific attitude on you part, in my opinion.
    As you have decline my invitation to let us know what the scope of your competence is, I suppose it would be wishful thinking to hope you might let us know which sector you work in?

  212. Morag says:

    Not biting.  Post about Lockerbie, if you can.

  213. Camreon says:

    @ Rev. Stuart Campbell
    Is there any way I can assert rights over the use of my name and the material I post to this thread. I do not wish to be misrepresented by Morag any further, but can not be bothered periodically checking to see what her latest crass comment has been.
    I lost interest in the discussion a long time ago, which is a pity as the subject is of huge significance to all our futures.

  214. Camreon says:

    @ Morag
    Snooty as well as arrogant, eh.
    Somebody take the shovel from her, please.

  215. Camreon says:

    My very, very , very last post on this thread…..mmmmmmm….Promise for keeps this time;
    The passport could very “possibly” have survive the impact and fireball, as Morag correctly points out. But the passport is a red hearing. It is intended to divert your attention from the real smoking gun and the real question. How can buildings fall at free fall speed, without the assistance of some as yet unidentified external intervention, or the temporary suspension of the laws of physics (but only in the immediate vicinity of the affected buildings W.T.C. 1,2 and & 7)?

    @ Morag
    The reason I have inquired about your field of expertise and which sector you are employed by, is that agents of influence come in all shapes and sizes, some of them witting others not. To put it bluntly, “willing idiots” are often unaware of the bigger plan and who they are actually working for.

  216. Morag says:

    Oh, don’t you start.  I get plenty of harmless amusement from Charles Norrie’s and Patrick Haseldine’s repeated accusations that I’m a CIA agent – or is it MI5?  I’m never quite sure.  The realisation that some people can’t cope with any challenge to their beliefs without declaring their opponent to be in the pay of the secret services is actually quite hilarious.

    I wrote an article attempting to demonstrate, factually, that the Lockerbie conviction is a pile of dingoes kidneys.  I’m now being subjected to abuse and baseless accusations because I decline to subscribe to a poster’s viewpoint on a completely different topic.

    Cameron, you are a complete fuckwit.  Go away.

  217. Camreon says:

    Did I mention the security forces? No
    Do you have to be in the security forces to be an agent of influence? I shall let the other readers make their own minds up about that one.
    Before I go though, will you please tell me how buildings can collapse at free fall speed, as acknowledged by the USA’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)?

  218. Camreon says:

    @ Morag
    ” I’m now being subjected to abuse and baseless accusations because I decline to subscribe to a poster’s viewpoint on a completely different topic”
    Pot, kettle…..
    I think you are woefully ignorant of the events and your authoritative pronouncements are little more than a limited hangout. Not that I am accusing you of any collusion.

  219. Morag says:

    Promises, promises….

    You’re up early, by the way!

  220. Camreon says:

    That doesn’t even make sense, but then why break a habit.
    Please do not make any further attempt to communicate with me, unless you are of course replying to my question about buildings collapsing at free fall speed.
    I shall be waiting with baited breath.

  221. Morag says:

    “Baited breath”!!  To go with the “red hearing”, I suppose.

    Is there no end to the erudition?

  222. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Folks, I’m getting increasingly dismayed by both sides in this thread. We’re down to spelling mistakes now? (And I hate “baited breath” more than anyone.) Cameron’s even lost the ability to spell his own name, but I’m not sure it’s significant. And I remain entirely certain that this thread is not about 9/11, which has no conceivable relevance to Scottish politics.

  223. Cameron says:

    @ Rev. Stuart
    Thanks for the impartiality.

  224. Morag says:

    I don’t know if anyone still remains who is interested in discussing Lockerbie, and in particular the actual subject of the article.  If there is, I’m happy to respond.  Otherwise, it would be best to let the thread die.  However, I don’t particularly want the last word to be a series of unrebutted trutherisms.

    RevStu, you’re wrong.  I definitely hate “baited breath” more than you do.

  225. Cameron says:

    @ Rev Stuart
    I wish this confrontation would end amicably myself, but I would still like your response to the misrepresentation and insult that I have been subjected to consistently on this thread. Are guests’ opinions taboo?

  226. uilleam_beag says:

    Thank you 10,000 times for the excellent and highly informative article that started this thread, and the many lengthy contributions you have made throughout the discussion — where it remained on topic. I have learned an immense amount and I bow to your encyclopaedic knowledge of such an involved and complicated case. It’s amazing to think how little has been cleared up almost a quarter of a century after that terrible night. 

    I’ve not joined the conversation before as I’ve been using my smartphone (and for some reason WoS has a thing against Androids), but have been following closely. Do take heart that there are many still interested in discussing Lockerbie.

    One word of friendly advice: if you don’t want to discuss that other issue, please stop responding when certain other people bring it up!

  227. Morag says:

    Cameron, there seems ot me to be no prospect of this ending amicably, after your behaviour in this thread, where most people were genuinely trying to have a reasonable discussion about the topic in hand, which you repeatedly disrupted with peremptory demands that I address your personal off-topic agenda.  Which I note you were still doing at 10.32 this morning.

    Reviewing the thread in an idle moment, I perhaps understand slightly better where this has sprung from.  In the article itself, I highlighted the fact that while the investigators decided the bomb suitcase was on the second layer of luggage, there was in fact no suitcase under it on the bottom layer, by using the phrase, “the laws of physics look like they’re in a bit of trouble.”

    This was a rhetorical device, intended as a mildly amusing way to highlight the absurdity of the investigator’s conclusions, and point to the real explanation for the anomaly, which was of course that the investigators were mistaken about the suitcase having been on the second layer.

    Cameron seems, at least in the first instance, to have failed to pick up on the subtlety and really thought I was suggesting that the Lockerbie bomb insertion was somehow done by suspending the law of gravity.

    Is there a “smashing my head against the nearest brick wall” smilie enabled on WoS?

  228. Cameron says:

    @ uilleam beag
    I feel I have to correct you there, but I want this to end now (appart from Rev. Stuart’s reply). Not because I feel I am loosing the argument, far from it. I didn’t want to have an argument here in the first place, at least not on this thread.
    I think if you look back, you will find that it has be Morag’s comments I have been responding to, defending myself from scurrilous misrepresentation, not in the order which you have indicated. At least not since my initial post was made. I know that is a bit chicken and egg, but I protest my innocence

  229. Morag says:

    Uillam Beag said:
    One word of friendly advice: if you don’t want to discuss that other issue, please stop responding when certain other people bring it up!

    Fair point, but it’s difficult to know what to do.  These people have a tendency to interpret that as a triumph for them, because their killer arguments are unanswerable.

    I have tried not to respond with substance, because you’d need a blog the size of Saturn to respond in the required detail to the scattergun approach employed.  I prefer to respond with substance to debate about Lockerbie – even if it isn’t on the subject of the baggage transfer evidence.

    It seemed a pity to let the thread end with the whimper of a truther’s demands for attention, but perhaps we will have to let it be so.

  230. ianbrotherhood says:

    You predicted this stushie, and so it has come to pass, but that’s twice now you’ve asserted that the ‘autumn day’ has no relevance to Scottish politics – that’s a big statement, and deserves discussion. Can’t we have a separate thread to do that? 

  231. uilleam_beag says:

    @ Cameron

    I wasn’t trying to pick sides, merely noting a self-perpetuating cycle that Morag (or you for that matter) could choose not to continue. It really isn’t important who is the chicken and who is the egg, just p’raps it’s time for one to stop laying or the other to stop hatching …

    I do realise this may be like telling a wee kid not to pick at that enticingly itchy scab on his knee  😉

  232. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “I would still like your response to the misrepresentation and insult that I have been subjected to consistently on this thread”

    Okey-dokey: Morag’s been a little over-touchy and you need to grow a pair. Happy?

  233. Cameron says:

    @ Rev Stuart
    Any suggestion that I may have misinterpreted any “rhetorical device” used by Morag, when describing the Lockerbie bombing, are completely and absolutely 100% conjecture on the part of Morag. How blatant does she have to be in misrepresenting me?
    I hadn’t even made the connection to Morag’s material. I was actually referring to the official 9/11 “conspiracy theory” contradicting the laws of physics.
    Was there any point to posting the links I supplied as corroboration? A notable omission of Morag’s posts.

  234. Morag says:

    Right, that’s it.  I am officially out of this unless someone posts on the topic of the article.

  235. Cameron says:

    Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Okey-dokey: Morag’s been a little over-touchy and you need to grow a pair. Happy?
    No, not really. I have been trying my best to keep things civilised, but that appears to have been beyond my reach.

  236. uilleam_beag says:

    Thanks again, Morag. 

    BTW, I was blown away by the two excerpts of court testimony you posted. It seems incredible that Megrahi’s counsel didn’t ask a single question to either witness — not how I remember it from all my legal training watching Ally MacBeal back in the day!

    Was that just an off day or was his defence really as useless as that the whole way through? 

  237. Nutcracker says:


    Thanks for the PDF of links.  Anyone who wants to know what is available online on this topic will benefit from a read of this excellent summary.

    The FAI bit makes mine (and your) point.  In addition to some interesting detailed descriptions of events that day, it contains references to primary documentary evidence that presumably – by virtue of having been introduced as Productions at the Inquiry – thus entered the public domain and might further inform the debate.

  238. Cameron says:

    @ uilleam beag
    I’m game.

  239. Morag says:

    Uilleam Beag.  One of the grounds of appeal Megrahi submitted to the SCCRC was that he had not received a competent defence.  I think it was a fair complaint, although the SCCRC rejected it on the grounds that (I paraphrase) “hindsight is a wonderful thing”.

    I have heard an eye-popping estimate of how much his legal representation was being paid.  I have also heard disturbing accounts of serious incompetence, such as getting pages of a speech mixed up.  The cross-examination of Tony Gauci is very strange.  Gauci could and should have been shredded, but he wasn’t.  Gauci’s evidence was only relevant to Megrahi’s prosecution, but at that point Fhimah’s advocate (who was competent and got his client off) stood up and had a go!

    I have also heard legal professionals express extreme surprise at the choice of Megrahi’s defence counsel, who was a generally undistinguished QC.  I would have thought a heavyweight defence “big beast” like Beltrami would have been a more rational choice.

    Bill Taylor did one very good number at Zeist, and that was when he destroyed the credibility of Majid Giaka, having had the ammunition to do that delivered into his hands, gift-wrapped, by the prosecution.  There was another part where I thought he had put in a lot of effort, though to poor effect, and that was in a line of argument relating to the possibility that tray 8849 at Frankfurt might have held an item of luggage originating from a Damascus flight.  It was a lousy argument, but it suggested some serious analysis of the raw data.  Then, when I was given access to the German police files relating to the luggage transfers, I discovered that argument in those files, pre-packaged.  It was a poor and convoluted attempt by one of the German policemen to find some explanation for the mystery tray, and it obviously didn’t really fly.  But Taylor just appropriated it anyway.

    I think he was in way over his head as regards analysing the evidence and the direction the case was taking.  I think he believed that the Crown case was nowhere close to proving guilt beyond reasonable doubt, and all he had to do was sit back, let them finish, then point this out.  He was actually right, but in a case with so many political ramifications it was not a safe assumption that the judges would see it that way.

    Do you know that after about a gazillion prosecution witnesses (including witnesses who should really have been seen as defence witnesses like Wilfred Borg and John Bedford), the defence called only three witnesses on its own behalf?

  240. Morag says:

    Nutcracker, that was really a “quick and dirty” drag-together of important links that I did at the request of someone on another forum, which would/will benefit from more work.  There are a lot more documents and images that should be included.

    You raise an interesting point with regard to court productions.  These may technically be in the public domain, but they are not necessarily easy to get hold of.  The normal price for actual court transcripts is £1 per page, and there’s not a huge amount on one page the way they lay it out.  At that price a complete transcript from Camp Zeist would cost just north of £10,000!  Fortunately that one has escaped into the wild, as you can see from the links page.  I don’t think the transcript of the FAI has ever been properly digitised, as you can see from the messy state of that single day I got hold of.  That makes it hard for it to escape.

    The productions themselves are very elusive, but despite that a lot have also popped up on the internet.  I think people who attended court were given a pack of at least some of the productions for the days they were there.  It’s selective though.  There are things I see being referred to in the transcripts, which I would dearly like to see, but I don’t know how they might be accessed.

    I don’t know of any productions from the FAI having shown up anywhere.  It was poorly attended and not well reported.  The production from these proceedings I was most keen to access, I now have, though, and that is Derek Henderson’s reports on the passenger luggage.  Now I know why this absolutely central collection of basic information was not shown to the court at Camp Zeist.

  241. Passing Stranger says:

    Fascinating how quickly a rational discussion about a real issue can be diverted by the 9/11 Twoof loons.
    Almost as if someone where using *them* to divert attention from real issues with their nonsensical claims and ridiculous allegations.

  242. Morag says:


  243. Vronsky says:

    “Fascinating how quickly a rational discussion about a real issue can be diverted by the 9/11 Twoof loons.
    Almost as if someone where using *them* to divert attention from real issues with their nonsensical claims and ridiculous allegations.
    What classic poverty of vocabulary.  I have some seriously bad news for you: the differential calculus is coming to get you. 

  244. Cameron says:

    @ Passing Stranger
    “9/11 Twoof loons”
    Yeah, that’s right. Troof loons like myself and John Farmer, Dean of Rutger Universities’ School of Law and former Attorney General of New Jersey, who was responsible for drafting the original flawed 9/11 report.
    @ Morag
    I don’t know what you are smiling at, as I am sure your professional standing has not survived this “discussion”, in the eyes of more than a few.
    As I have said elsewhere on this blog… can lead a horse to water….

  245. Adrian B says:


    Is that your last word on the subject or is there still more to come?

    Really fed up with your postings of unrelated 911 links. Nobody seems interested, if they were they would have bitten. Please take the hint!

  246. Cameron says:

    Sorry Adrian, didn’t mean to be a pain.
    I thought there was significance relevance to the Lockerbie case and to Scotland. Then again, I am one of “them”. Don’t listen to him, he is one of “them”. Their can’t be extermination camps.
    Absolutely my last post regarding 9/11 to this thread, unless I continue to be misrepresented of course.

  247. Adrian B says:

    Your not on trial Cameron – stick to relevant information and you will be just fine.

  248. Cameron says:

    I’m not on trial but the true seam to be 😉

  249. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    I’ve never closed a comments thread before, but I think it’s safe to say this one’s outlived its productiveness. Everyone’s had their say, and we’re just going round in circles. Enough.

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