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An open letter to Johann Lamont

Posted on May 20, 2012 by

Today, Johann Lamont – someone elected by nobody except the people of Pollok in Glasgow – took it upon herself to apologise on behalf of the people of Scotland for the early release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, a man who may or may not be responsible for 270 deaths in and over Lockerbie, but who most definitely spent the past three years in absolute agony and being kept alive by totally artificial means by a Libyan government determined to use him for propaganda purposes.

That a country could see fit to release a dying man on compassionate grounds is something to be proud of, especially in comparison to the sort of blood-lust demanded by those across the Atlantic. As such, I was utterly disgusted by Lamont’s comments – they were arrogant, they displayed contempt, and ultimately they serve only to undermine the whole principle of human compassion. So, to stop myself bursting a blood vessel, I decided to send her an email.

Dear Johann,

I take great offence at your recent comments about apologising for Megrahi’s early release on the behalf of the people of Scotland. For a start, you might wish to remember that the only people you can lay claim to “speaking for” are your constituents in Pollock, although it would be interesting to see how many of those even agreed with your comments. I have never even voted for Labour in my life, never mind you personally, so you do not – in any way – speak for me. Just because you managed to avoid the hammering in Glasgow that you were expecting this month, do not make the mistake of thinking that the whole of Scotland is suddenly behind your every word. I can guarantee you that we are not.

But far more than that, I am one of the many people who took great pride in being part of a country that was able to show genuine compassion for another human being, rather than just paying lip service to such an idea. Regardless of how safe or otherwise his conviction actually was, the simple fact was that keeping Megrahi in jail when he was terminally ill served no purpose other than satisfy the desire of people across the Atlantic to see “justice” done. I’m sorry, but I don’t see debasing ourselves as being “justice”. If he was indeed guilty, then he has been dealt a far harsher punishment than any the Scottish justice system is permitted to hand out.

Your comments display arrogance, contempt and, above all else, they serve to undermine what was an incredibly humanistic action by our justice system. Being a part of a country that does not condemn people to die in jail is something we should be proud of, not something we should apologise for.

The only insult to this country is you, and the only apologies you should be making are for your own misinformed comments. Comments such as this show why you will never be the leader of this country (for which I am eternally grateful), and prove that your party still hasn’t learned a thing from your humiliating defeat last year.

I pity you, I really do.

Yours disgustedly,
Douglas Daniel

I’ll let you know if she ever replies.

(This piece was originally published on Alba Matters. Reproduced with permission.)

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    1. Siôn Eurfyl Jones says:

      Jim Swire, who suffered a personal loss in the atrocity, was gracious in the face of the news of al Megrahi’s death. Swire thoughtful, intelligent and compassionate – in stark contrast to La Lamont, who appears to be none of those things.  

    2. Morag says:

      I’m afraid you’re wasting your time, Douglas.  Johann knows she’s right, because of the position she has been anointed into.  And because of all the yes-men and women who surround her, bolstering her ego day by day.  The idea that she might have been wrong won’t even enter her head.

    3. Doug Daniel says:

      I can’t believe I spelt “Pollok” with a C…

    4. Morag says:

      It’s very possible you didn’t, if you’re using MS Word.  That does some very strange on-the-fly “corrections”, including changing Partick to Patrick.

    5. Peter Mirtitsch says:

      I am one of those who is proud of the people of Scotland that we still have the humanity to release someone convicted of such a crime on compassionate grounds. (Whether he did it or not is another matter anyway) A society is judged on how it treats the worst of its members as opposed to the best.

      My Mother’s next door neighbour was a lovely man who had this condition. It robbed him of his dignity and his calm demeanor. Eventually he crawled inside a bottle to try and defuse the pain and depression. Bear in mind that he was pumped full of all sorts of drugs he would not have had access to, it is no surprise he lasted longer than initially anticipated. I am sickened by those clamouring for his death INCLUDING Mrs Lamont who displayed supreme arrogance by presuming to speak for me when I personally think she is an ineffectual  mouthpiece of Westminster, and TBH isn’t even that good at that.

      Mr McAskill was acting within the law as it stands and TBH had his hands tied, as we probably would have had to spend a lot of taxpayers’ money fighting a court case.

      Mr Cameron when over with his USAican masters comes across as nothing more than a foppish lickspittle with his craven apologies and putting down of the Scottish Government’s decisions. What ever happened to his “respect” agenda???

    6. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      I also backed the move to release him. It was one of the things that made me change my opinion of the SNP (As an ex-labour voter). I too was proud of that decision.

      Lamonts remarks remind me that Labour lost me for a good reason, and they dont deserve a return of voters given their shrill right wing vengeance rhetoric, and they certainly do not speak on my behalf.

    7. Barbarian says:

      I know four people who died at Lockerbie – an entire family. I was also involved in part of the recovery effort.

      I do not have a problem with his release (I did at the time), although my view is that he was involved at some level, as to which – or perhaps not – has yet to be determined. I’ll accept the decision of a court and nothing else.

      I do not like politicians making political capital out of it, from whatever side.

      I have a lot of issues with Salmond, but his statement today was absolutely correct and that is how things should be left.        

      People have their own views on the matter. Political statements or comments on blogs will not change things.

      The hurt is still felt deeply by my family – especially my parents – over twenty years on.

      About time that things were left alone, since nothing will be achieved now.


    8. Seasick Dave says:

      Fair points, Barbarian, but I don’t think that things should be left alone.

      The guilty people have to be exposed.

    9. Tris says:

      Nice letter to Lamont, Doug. I too was furious when this woman decided that she somehow had the right to speak for me.

      Like most of the people who have commented, I am proud of the Scots legal system which shows humanity to people who are dying. The Justice Secretary did what he had to do. Every box was ticked.

      At the time I remember Iain Gray saying that if he had been first minister it wouldn’t have happened, although it was not, by law, the decision of the first minister to free the man.

      Megrahi lived longer than he would have here, because, as you say, he was used by the Libyan regime, and his treatment was far more, far better, and far more expensive than he would have got in Scotland, in or out of prison. I understand that they flew in oncologists from Switzerland and Sweden, and I heard at one stage the USA… (but that may well be wrong). He was given drugs he would not have got here. So he lasted longer than he would have done in Scotland. 

      I think we should try to find out what did happen; if he was indeed guilty, or if America demanded that the UK prime minister, always a puppet of the American Secretary of State, and who would have been in charge of Scottish justice at that time, make sure that someone was punished, fast.

      Somewhere the real guilty party may be living his life, unencumbered by either imprisonment or cancer.

      Lamont is cheap and nasty. She’s not a national leader. She’s just not up to it.

      Trying to make some political capital out of what was a tragedy for hundreds of people and the recent death of a man who may or may not have been responsible for it, is tacky. But it’s no more and no less than I would have expected from someone who at best might have made a reasonable local councillor.


    10. Morag says:

      Barbarian, many have said that Megrahi was “probably involved in some way”, but nobody has ever been able to produce any evidence other than what was presented in court.  What was presented in court showed that he was catching a plane from Malta to Tripoli on the morning of 21st December 1988, and was in Tripoli at the time the evidence (presented in court) showed the bomb suitcase to have been smuggled into the baggage container waiting at Heathrow airport.
      The court chose to go with the fairy-story dreamed up by the investigators that the bomb suitcase had somehow been rendered invisible and levitated on board an Air Malta flight, despite months and indeed years of intensive investigation failing to find any evidence at all that this had happened – or even that it could have happened.  They simply ignored the concrete evidence from witnesses at Heathrow that the security there was abysmal, and one witness in particular who actually saw the suitcase in question in the container before the feeder flight allegedly carrying the “suitcase from Malta” had landed.
      Thus they reasoned that Megrahi had been present when this magical deed was done, thus he must somehow have been involved in it.  Why?  Because he bought the clothes packed in the suitcase with the bomb.
      But hang on, the evidence that he was the person who bought these clothes was beyond tenuous (and later proved to have been linked to a $3 million bribe to the clothes sellers).  So why did the judges decide this tenuous “resemblance” haltingly attested to by Tony Gauci was enough to say Megrahi was definitely the purchaser?  Why, because he was at the airport when the bomb was smuggled on board the Air Malta flight!
      You couldn’t make it up.
      Megrahi didn’t buy those clothes.  The man who bought the clothes was about 50 years old, dark-skinned, heavily-built and over six feet tall (Tony’s original description before the cops got to work on him).  Megrahi is 5′ 8″, light-skinned, of normal build, and was 36 years old on the date in question.  And he wasn’t even on Malta that day, either.
      Megrahi was in Tripoli at 4pm on 21st December 1988, the time John Bedford went for his tea break at Heathrow, after which he returned to find an extra suitcase in the baggage container he was loading for Pan Am 103, a suitcase perfectly matching the description of the one that blew apart because of the bomb inside it, and which did not match the description of any of the luggage that might legitimately have been in that container.
      So no, there is no reason at all to suspect Megrahi was “involved in some way”.  He had no other connection to the bombing at all, that is known about.  Since all the people who are in the frame for having something to do with it are connected to various Palestinian terrorist groups, and have no connection at all with Megrahi, it’s nothing but a leap of faith.
      I can very much sympathise with those who feel they need someone to blame for the disaster, but one has to go with the evidence.  And there is no evidence that Megrahi was “involved in some way” other than the evidence used against him in court.  And that, looked at rationally, actually provides him with an alibi for the crime.

    11. John Böttcher says:

      Morag – I do wish there was a facility to tweet/share your comment.


    12. Dál Riata says:

      Morag (at 12:52am), thanks for that! It should be made the front page of every print MSM in the UK AND the US … but sadly, and of course, it won’t be. 

    13. allen ralston says:

      i read johan lamont comments in a story in the glasgow herald online , i posted a comment saying that in no way was she entitled or empowered to speak on my behalf now or ever went back a little bit later the story had be re edited no comment from johan lamont in the story the two readers comments on the story had vanished my comment not entered so who spiked the story anybody got any ideas ? this stinks if she made the comments then she should either stand by them or apologise for apologising in everyones name she is either a buffoon or a ballon or possibly both 

    14. Dál Riata says:

      Okay, a few questions. I hope someone might know the answers, if not for definite then with some ideas of what the ‘should be’s and ‘probably’s are.

      Can someone, as leader, or nominal head, of an opposition party to that which is the democratically elected party of government of a country, say that they represent the ‘voice’ of that country? That is; Can Johann Lamont, as the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, the main party in opposition to the SNP, say that she represents the ‘voice’ of Scotland re Megrahi’s death?

      I ask about the legality of this, not in any way suggesting illegality. But is there anything in law that states whether one has, or has not the right to say that what they proclaim is that which ‘represents’ a country’s population’s ‘voice’?

      I understand the standing First Minister, President, Prime Minister, etc. of a country saying they represent their country’s ‘voice’, but does an opposition party also have this ‘right’?

      What, then, about people, in whatever capacity, outwith government? Does any one citizen of a country have the right to say that, legally they are their country’s ‘voice’?  

      Outwith legalities, I would suggest that these kinds of statements owe more to the nicities, or otherwise, of protocol. So, what is, or should be the protocol in these types of situations? Does protocol ‘allow’ opposition parties to make statements they proclaim represent their country’s citizenry? 

      Or, is what Lamont said seen as a ‘comment’ rather than an actual ‘official statement’ thus not qualifying as having crossed over lines of protocol or whatever? 

      Genuinely intrigued about this, not only re the Megrahi case, but what the ‘rules’ are in general with who can, or cannot state that they truly represent the ‘voice of the people’.

      Thanks to anyone who replies! 

    15. Macart says:

      So I’ve got something to be ashamed of, have I? Somehow the people of Scotland are guilty of something in this whole sorry affair. A dirty war was brought to our country, people killed, our justice system hi jacked and a geo political running sore left in our laps and WE’RE SORRY?

      Johann Lamont is a bloody disgrace to this country. Playing politics over this of all things and at the same time assuming mandate to speak on our behalf. Johann Lamont does not speak for me.

      P.S. Good post Morag. 

    16. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      Johann Lamont has no right or privilege or mandate  to speak for the People of Scotland, on any matter.
      She is an elected MSP and by ways of dubious democratic tradition has been elected to be the vassal of London Labour in Scotlandshire.
      She does have some sort of mandate from the people of Pollok, although more people did not vote for than did (i can do the dead men voting against logic too), and, could at a stretch of a worn knocker elastic, claim to voice the concerns her constituents. That is it.
      By her twisted logic the Janny at Holyrood could claim to speak for the Scottish Parliament.
      Lamont is a nasty bit stuff, quite poisoned.
      By h

    17. Doug Daniel says:

      Good comments, particularly from Barbarian and Morag, and I think the two combine to highlight exactly why this needs to be resolved once and for all. If it is left to continue festering, then Scotland truly does have something to be sorry about – allowing a near-certain miscarriage of justice to continue to blacken a dead man’s name.

      You can’t help feeling that this was one of those occasions where the need to find someone to point a finger of blame at was more important than a man’s life. There are big question marks over the conviction, and until they are put to bed one way or the other, a stain remains over the name of Scottish justice. Indeed, in this state of affairs, allowing a dying man to die with his family may turn out to be the one redeeming feature of our justice system, because seeking the truth seems to be nothing more than an afterthought.

    18. Morag says:

      John, you could tweet this, I suppose (don’t know how Twitter works, I have to say).

      Also, for more details, have a read at these two articles (OK, I wrote them myself, but hey, somebody had to!

    19. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “I do wish there was a facility to tweet/share your comment.”

      There is. If you click on the timestamp below any comment, you’ll get a direct link to it.

    20. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “i read johan lamont comments in a story in the glasgow herald online , i posted a comment saying that in no way was she entitled or empowered to speak on my behalf now or ever went back a little bit later the story had be re edited no comment from johan lamont in the story”

      The story with Lamont’s comment is still there, it’s just buried four pages down the search results:

    21. Romanista says:

      Wait.. Johann is a women’s name.. Cruijff will be furious

    22. Doug Daniel says:

      And Johann Hari as well (although he shares a similar attitude towards telling the truth). And Johann Sebastian Bach will be turning in his grave. Johan Mjallby probably thinks it’s a bit odd too. 

      Never did understand people who feel the need to give their child a weird spelling of a normal name. I’ll never get used to pronouncing her name “Joanne” instead of “Yo-hann”.

    23. Tearlach says:

      I suspect that this will be the first and only time I’ll defend Ms Lamont, or more properly her parents. However Johann’s family are from Tiree I seem to recall (she has a brother who still lives in Lewis), and the spelling of her name conforms to the Hebridean tradition.
      To us Gaels its “Joanne” that is the weird spelling of a normal name 🙂

    24. R Pollock says:

      Look, I didn’t agree with Megrahi being released but I can’t fathom on what basis Johann Lamont thought she would presume to speak for the people of Scotland. 

      As far as I’m concerned the man was convicted in a court of law.  To paraphrase, he’s guilty until proven innocent.  I get the whole idea of letting him out and I am not so much against the concept of McAskill’s decision.  It’s just the decision I don’t think I would have have made.

      I worry about what sort of person Lamont is.  Who, given her position, thinks she speaks for a nation?  I’d even be queezy about a First Minister doing that.  There’s not even a majority that know who Johann Lamont is never mind her claiming to speak for them!


    25. Suth says:

      Looking for or feeling more comfortable with a scapegoat, R Pollock? Even one as flimsy as this?

    26. R Pollock says:

      It may well be the case that the case against Megrahi is unfounded.  I honestly have no idea.  I defer to the court.  The only way we’ll know is if the arguments are put to the court again and there is a new judgement.  Even then we may not really know.  Until then, and I am not emotionally enthralled by what the outcome would be anyway, I think the courts judgements should be held as the priority over theories.  Personally, I’m not sure spending more millions to pardon/quash conviction/cement conviction of a man who’s already left this earth would really bring much benefit to anybody.  If other killers can be found, all well and good and hopefully justice is done.

    27. Alex Grant says:

      Based on what I have read his conviction is unsafe. I thought in a so called Democracy a report of the sort issued by the SCCRC would necessitate a retrial or a judicial review of some sort. None of the politicians wants to have this so pressure is being applied from somewhere. The Tories and Labour can simply exploit this by condemning the Scottish government!
      Why can’t AS simply refer it for review – the result would surely screw the Unionists!?
      Hence my belief pressure is being applied – presumably by the Yanks?

    28. derek says:

      This might answer some questions….  

    29. Ron says:

      Alex, you asked “Why can’t AS simply refer it for review?”
      I suspect for the same reason Iain Gray was wrong when he claimed he would not have allowed al-Megrahi to leave if he had been FM. I dont genuinely think the FM has any power to do anything here. The correct legal steps MUST be followed, and I think thats why Salmond isn’t directly trying to get involved. Imagine the ammunition Lamont and others would have if he did anything other than follow the law?
      The correct thing is for the family to pursue it, or presumably someone they appoint or give permission to such as the Justice for Megrahi group.

    30. Juteman says:

      I have no idea what actually happened.

      As Mrs Lamont has apologised on my behalf, she must know all the details.
       Show everything you know, Joanne.


    31. Tearlach says:

      Looks like folk (and Ms Lamont in particular) are getting the usual two issues confused here. The first is the guilt or otherwise of the late  al-Megrahi. He was convicted in a Scottish Court, and dropped his appeal against that conviction for reasons unknown, but the fact remains that he was convicted. The soundness of that conviction remains disputed.

      However his release on compassionate grounds was quite clear, as the Justice Secretary has stated again today. Under Scots law he met every criteria for early release, indeed as a number of learned legal eagles pointed out at the time, if he had not been released, he would have had a pretty watertight case for suing the Scottish Government for not releasing him under the relevant act. 

    32. albaman says:

      can anyone tell me, who insisted that there should be NO JUDGE AND JURY, just
      a judge or judges,  at the trial in Holland, was it the Americans???   

    33. Morag says:

      This might answer some questions….  
      Derek, no not really.  It’s a fascinating film, but it was made in 1994, well before the trial.  The modus operandi Francovich presents in the film doesn’t hold water either.

    34. Morag says:

      I do feel frustrated by this “I’ll only accept the judgement of the court” mantra.  It may seem superficially reasonable, but it masks a very dangerous attitude.
      The number of known miscarriages of justice is large.  The IRA bombing trials, the cot death tragedies, Barry George, Sion Jenkins, Stefan Kizsko, Paul Esslemont, I could go on and on.  All found guilty by a court, and lost their first appeals too.  If everyone just sits back and says, “I accept the judgement of the court”, then injustice and oppression rule the day.  All of these people were finally cleared because of pressure groups who knew that courts have no monopoly on wisdom, and could see that a wrong had been done.
      The Lockerbie affair is unusually clear cut, because uniquely we actually have a written judgement and can read the judges’ reasoning for ourselves.  It’s a catalogue of circular reasoning, rejecting everything (however probable) that pointed to innocence while seizing on everything (however unlikely) that pointed to guilt.  It shows the judges reversing the burden of proof, and simply making stuff up to suit their chosen scenario where the evil mastermind Megrahi had somehow levitated an invisible suitcase on a plane without either having a suitcase or going anywhere near the plane in question.
      The SCCRC report actually stated, as one of its reasons for granting leave to appeal, that there was a case to be made that the judgement was unreasonable.
      I can understand people naturally believing a court judgement as a default position.  However, when a judgement has been so widely criticised in very specific terms by so many people with such good credentials, starting with the official UN observer to the trial by the way, surely it is time to look a little deeper.  To say, in effect “I don’t really care what arguments you advance, and I don’t know what the judges’ reasoning was either, I’m just going to believe the court because they are the authority,” is not just perverse, it’s lazy.
      I hope people who have got this far in this thread might actually go away and read some stuff, and even if they aren’t convinced, acknowledge that there are huge question marks and that courts do get things wrong quite often.

    35. albaman says:

      And further to my last question, if the trial was conducted under Scottish law,
      why was the verdict of “NOT PROVEN” dropped ???, and by the insistence
      of whom!!!    

    36. Morag says:

      can anyone tell me, who insisted that there should be NO JUDGE AND JURY, just
      a judge or judges,  at the trial in Holland, was it the Americans??? 
      Albaman, the request to have no jury came from the Libyans themselves.  They thought that the publicity of the horror that was Lockerbie that night would prejudice any Scottish jury against them and they would not get a fair trial.  It was thought that judges were above all that and could put it all aside and judge rationally on the evidence.
      What a joke.  If you want a case fouled up good and proper, allow a bunch of over-educated lawyers free rein to pontificate on it.  Many people have observed that a jury would never have brought in a guilty verdict on that evidence.  Normal people just don’t have the sophistry displayed in the judgement.  But hindsight is a wonderful thing.
      By the way, remember I said I’d crossed swords with Ming Campbell over this?  Well, someone else said a jury could never have convicted on that evidence, and Ming’s reply was that this was why we had judges, because laymen didn’t understand the law and it should be left to the professionals.  Nobody could quite believe their ears.

    37. Morag says:

      And further to my last question, if the trial was conducted under Scottish law, why was the verdict of “NOT PROVEN” dropped ???, and by the insistence of whom!!!
      Albaman, it wasn’t dropped.  The judges simply chose not to avail themselves of it.  Not even as regards Fhimah, it should be noted. 

    38. albaman says:

      thanks Morag, the more we probe, the better we understand.

    39. Morag says:

      That’s what I believe too, Albaman.  It’s taken me a long time to get to where I now am in my understanding of the case, and there are those who surpass me, and sometimes pull me up on points I have forgotten, or was unaware of.
      I try to make things easier for people new to the case, I put together handy summaries, I point to useful sources and I try to steer people away from the unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.  But it’s an uphill struggle.  People want to believe exciting things, like important people being warned not to catch the plane and so on.
      There’s a lot I still don’t understand.  I think I know what happened with the Scottish investigation and how it went pear-shaped, but that doesn’t account for whatever the hell the CIA was up to.  The more I read the more I find out though, and some of it is quite surprising.
      I do think it’s wise to come from the position of assuming the least possible amount of official malfeasance.  Cock-up rather than conspiracy.  That’s usually the way.  If we all charge in with wild accusations, we’ll be pigeon-holed with the “9/11 was an inside job!” fruitbats.  If we patiently and repeatedly point out the mundane flaws in Megrahi’s conviction, one day it may be quashed, and there will be no “Lockerbie bomber” to blame, and then maybe some real investigation can take place.

    40. douglas clark says:

      It seems to me that the greater the atrocity, the greater the pressure placed on the prosecution services, including the Police, to arrive at any credible – or as Morag points out, incrediible – candidate.

      This short termism is supposed to alleviate public concerns. Presumeably on the basis that the bad guy is locked up and we can now all breath easy.

      But it has frequently ended up with the wrong person or persons being convicted. The Birmingham Six comes readily to mind.

      I struggled with the Rev Stus’ grammar here:
      “Breaking: Lockerbie Bomber Still Alive”

      But when it finally twigged, it is a point of the utmost importance, if you want justice rather than an ice pack to a fevered brow. Jim Swire wants justice, and he is not getting it.
      I am glad that this case will still be open to appeal, even though the main protagonist is dead.  

    41. Morag says:

      I think this was a slightly different scenario to some of the other cases you mention.  It’s most like the Barry George affair.  In that case the cops detected away for a year and more, and drew a complete blank.  They then changed tack and brought in this weirdo misfit stalker, almost on the basis of “well he’ll do then”.
      In the Lockerbie case they beavered away thinking it was probably the PFLP-GC, but couldn’t get a lead on who or how.  Probably because they were looking in the wrong place.  Then in January 1991 the CIA passed Megrahi’s and Fhimah’s names to them and suggested they have a look at these guys.
      It’s odd that all the detecting the Scottish cops did on Malta never turned up “Abdusamad” (Megrahi’s alias) as a likely suspect.  But they didn’t.  They had no idea he was at the airport even when they were setting Tony up to pick his unrecognisable picture out of the rigged photospread.
      But from then on, it went to plan.  The cops were incredibly relieved to get a real live suspect after over two years of getting nowhere.  They weren’t going to look that gift horse in the mouth.  They needed to solve the case, and the CIA’s steer would do nicely thanks.

    42. douglas clark says:

      Well, thanks for the reply. Err…were you not replying to me, for I only mentioned the Birminghan Six by name?

      Anyway, it must be highly frustrating to be in charge of a high profile case and be seen to be unable to collar someone for it. I had not realised that it took two years for these names to be raised.

      However, it does not destroy my point. Which is simply that resolving a case – because of media pressure – becomes more important than finding who actually did it. Being Irish, a bit different or Lybian seems to set off a self-reinforcing set of ‘evidence’ that denies anything contrarywise.

      My arguement is merely that social or political pressure for an outcome is not conducive to the process of justice being followed in a properly investigative and legalistic fashion. It would be naivé to think that media pressure – allegedly on our behalf – does not arrive at unacceptable outcomes. I gave you the Birmingham Six and you give me Barry George. I think I am right in saying that both of these cases were extremely high profile and results were ‘wanted’?

      It might behove us all to stop wanting immediate arrests and incarceration, for crimes that disgust us. For arresting the wrong person and convicting them wrongly is a greater crime than just admitting ‘enquiries are continuing’.

    43. douglas clark says:

      Doug Daniel,
      Completely agree with you. However it would be good to get her words tied down somewhere as they appear to be being retracted – i.e. disappeared.
      Just saying.

    44. Morag says:

      Sorry Douglas, yes I was replying to you but over-interpreted what you were saying about other cases.  Blame the (wee sma) hour.

      I was totally agreeing with you, but clarfying that this wasn’t one of these cases where an initial knee-jerk accusation of a suspect is clung to even in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary (like the recent acquittals in the Meredith Kercher murder case).  This was the other type, where failing investigators change tack and find a new suspect right out on left field, after their original inquiries drew a blank.

      I always assumed that Megrahi had been identified by normal detection methods but the Scottish police.  After all, they firmly believed the bomb had started from Luqa airport on the morning of 21st December, so why wouldn’t they have followed up all the passengers who went through Luqa that morning, to any destination?  Any such inquiry would have turned up Megrahi as one of the passengers catching LN147 for Tripoli, which left about the same time as KM180 for Frankfurt, with the two check-in desks open at the same time, next to each other.  Yes, the name they would have got would have been Abdusamad, not al-Megrahi, but they would have had him on the radar.

      But that didn’t happen.  The police were convinced the bomb had originated at Malta, but they were also convinced the PFLP-GC had done it.  There were PFLP-GC members on the island, and they spent a long time following them up.  Nothing.  They also spent a long time trying to show that there had been a grand conspiracy among the Maltese baggage handlers to falsify the records that showed conclusively there had been no unaccompanied luggage on KM180 that morning.  Again nothing.  They found no sign that the bomb had ever been on the island, no possible suspect for interfering with the plane’s baggage consignment, and no way the baggage could have been interfered with.

      What they did not do then was regroup, reassess, and realise that the evidence for the bomb having been smuggled on board at Heathrow was really quite strong, and infinitely stronger than the absolute absence of such evidence at Luqa.  It was probably too late to do anything about that by then anyway.  What happened was that the CIA intervened.

      First, in June 1990, the infamous PCB fragment (which seems to have been genuinely there in the hands of the forensics guys since at least May 1989) was identified by a CIA agent codenamed “Orkin” as having come from this wonderfully traceable batch of 20 unique timers custom-made for Libya in 1986.  This was used to resurrect Libya as the prime suspects.  (Reagan had wanted to go after Libya for the bombing even before anyone was sure it was a bombing, but the circumstantial evidence pointing to the PFLP-GC was just too strong to sustain that at the time.)

      Then in January 1991 the CIA supplied Megrahi’s and Fhimah’s names to the Scottish investigators, and suggested they try to see if they could get Tony Gauci to identify Megrahi as the clothes purchaser.  They managed this by means of an interesting little three-card trick involving different photos of Megrahi.  They still didn’t know Megrahi had been at the airport that morning, and indeed they didn’t know for sure he was Abdusamad until he showed up at Zeist with his Abdusamad passport and trustingly handed it over, complete with another copy of the photo they hadn’t used in the identification photospread, but had been using in their wanted posters and other publicity material ever since.

      I can see how that would convince investigators.  First they can’t pin it on the initial suspects.  Then they are presented with a new suspect, and they start to build a case.  THEN they discover a very strong connection with this suspect they hadn’t been aware of originally.  And I think it convinced them.  I think the police who swear they got the right man are sincere.  But it’s all smoke and mirrors.

      There are way too many coincidences in this case.  The “coding anomaly” at Frankfurt that pointed to a flight coming from the town where the clothes in the bomb suitcase had been purchased.  The PCB fragment appearing to have come from a countdown timer supplied to Libya, except it didn’t.  The man suspected for other reasons turning out to have been at the airport at the time the police were interested in.  I have a feeling not all these things are conicidences, but I’m damned if I know which ones.

    45. Tris says:


      Can I have your permission to use your original post here on my blog. Every little bit helps and you explain it so clearly. I could paraphrase, but I fear I would lose something….

    46. Morag says:

      Which post do you mean?  I have rather shot my mouth off in this thread I’m afraid!  I do worry that “comments” taken out of a thread won’t stand up and will prove to be incomplete and so on.  But sure, if you think something is worth repeating, carry on.

      I have a recent article in the Scottish Review that covers most of the bases, too.

    47. Tris says:

      OK. Thanks. I meant the one that responds to Barbarian and starts…

      “… many have said that Megrahi was “probably involved in some way”, but nobody has ever been able to produce any evidence other than what was presented in court.”

      Please say if you don’t want that one used…. 

       Thanks for the link. 

    48. Morag says:

      Yeah, that’s fine, whatever you like.  Anything to disseminate the facts.
      Looking at it, you could add a sentence at the end of the paragraph beginning “Megrahi was in Tripoli at 4pm….”  Like this.
      That suitcase was within a few inches of the position later determined to be the centre of the explosion, if not actually in that position.

    49. jake says:

      Could someone, by which I mean anyone really, just issue a retraction?

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