Monday, 30 January 2017

Lockerbie's 28 Year Lie: Take Two

Should a second, posthumous appeal be held on behalf of Baset al-Megrahi, it may help public understanding if we revisit two central issues of the Lockerbie case.
____________________________________________

On the 21st December 1988 a terrorist bomb destroyed flight Pan Am 103 during its journey from Heathrow Airport in the UK to New York.

Sections of the dismembered plane, 243 passengers and sixteen crew members fell across the Scottish town of Lockerbie and surrounding farms and fields. Eleven people on the ground were also killed.

In 1991 two Libyan security officers were indicted for the crime. Their trial began in May 2000.
 
Al-Megrahi
The key prosecution claims were:
1.  Several weeks before the attack, one of the accused, Baset al-Megrahi, purchased a selection of clothes from a Maltese clothing shop.


2. Pieces of the clothing were found at the crash site.

3.  Embedded within one of the pieces was a 4mm square fragment - PT35(b) - of an electronic timer board.

4.  The FBI had proved that the fragment came from a batch of 20 such boards delivered in 1985 to Libya by Swiss electronics supplier MEBO.

Fragment PT35(b).
5.  Two witnesses would identify the suspects and prove the case beyond doubt. The first, a CIA informant Majid Giaka; the second, a Maltese shopkeeper Toni Gauci.


The trial judges decided that Giaka  was untrustworthy, leaving Gauci as the sole identification witness.
Discredited CIA witness Majid Giaka
On 31st January 2001 al-Megrahi was found guilty. The second accused, Khalifa Fhimah, was freed with "No case to answer"
Fhimah: No case to answer.

In the years since the verdict it has become clear that the world has been cynically misled by the FBI, the CIA, and British and Scottish governments.
1. In 1989 Britain's prime minister Margaret Thatcher was advised by the Americans not to enquire into the attack.


Thatcher: Knew nothing of Lockerbie.
2.  Even though she and her entourage had walked across the devastated town one day after the attack, she did not - in her 1993 memoir "The Downing Street Years" - mention the town of Lockerbie, nor the disaster that befell it with the bombing of Pan Am 103.
When asked by Father of the House MP Tam Dalyell why, she said: "I know nothing of Lockerbie, and do not write about something I do not know about." 
3.  Seven years after the verdict the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) discovered significant new evidence concealed by police and Crown Office from the trial judges and defence team.
4.  The SCCRC discovered a secret letter written by the King of Jordan to British prime minister John Major indicating that the Libyans were innocent of the crime.
The King's letter claimed that the attack had been Iranian-
Major: Knew Libyans were innocent.
funded in revenge for the 1988 destruction by the USS Vincennes of an Iranian Air-Bus carrying 290 pilgrims to Mecca.

5. Unknown to most journalists and public, the King had agreed to place in protective custody Marwan Khreesat, expert bomb-maker for a Palestinian group, the PFLP-GC. Khreesat had made bombs for the group in Germany, to be used to bring down American passenger planes heading for the US.
Khreesat: Bombs to destroy US planes.

6.  US and German intelligence knew that Iran had funded the Lockerbie attack. They had assembled a full dossier of intelligence proving that Khreesat and the Palestinian group were guilty.

7.  On the sudden discovery of PT35(b), however, US intelligence reversed direction and accused Libya of the crime.
    8. The British government tried on two occasions to prevent the king's letter becoming public. The first, a Public Interest Immunity Certificate signed by Foreign Secretary David Miliband; the second, an unsuccessful attempt by Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt to close down a Scottish newspaper to prevent publication of the story.
    Burt: Intended to close down newspaper.

      9.  The SCCRC re-examined evidence given in the trial and discovered that al-Megrahi was not on the island of Malta on the day that the clothing was purchased.
        10.  The SCCRC also discovered that police diaries of chief police investigator Harry Bell contained a record of multi-million dollar offers of payment to the Maltese shopkeeper Gauci "provided" - in the words of a letter to Harry Bell from the US Department of Justice - "he gives evidence." 

          Gauci. $3 million for his evidence
          11.  The SCCRC also re-examined all the evidence given by Gauci. They concluded that his so-called "identification" was founded on numerous viewings of photographs of al-Megrahi in the media and magazines, all linking him to the bombing. Gauci's evidence was therefore not credible, and the trial judges had been mistaken.

          12. From the SCCRC's finding concerning Gauci, another extraordinary fact has emerged. If Megrahi was not on the Island of Malta on the day of the purchase of clothes, Gauci never met him. How then could Gauci recall meeting him or what he looked like?

          ****
          Was the Lockerbie fragment PT35(b) a fake? During the trial in 2000 there were suspicions about how it had been discovered and reported on by government scientists. The trial judges had discounted these suspicions.

          Then in 2009 the al-Megrahi defence team made a startling discovery. In the years since the trial and first appeal they had managed to obtain a huge set of documents from police and Scottish Crown archives. Among the documents was the forensic notebook of scientific witness Allen Feraday.

          Feraday had compared PT35(b) with control samples from MST13 timer circuit boards similar to those supplied to Libya in 1985 by MEBO.

          He told the trial judges: "the fragment materials and tracking pattern are similar in all respects" to that of the MST13 timer.

          But nine years prior to the trial, on 1st August 1991, when examining both the fragment and a MEBO MST13 timer circuit board, he had made two hand-written entries in his notebook which contradicted this.

          Here are photocopies from Feraday's notebook. The first records that the tracking on fragment PT35(b) is protected by a layer of "Pure tin". 
          PT35(b): Protective cover of 100% tin.
          Police control sample: Protective cover of alloy. 70% tin - 30% lead











          The second records that the tracking on the circuit of a control sample MST13 board is covered by an alloy of "70% tin and 30% lead".

          Feraday and the police were fully aware of the difference. Two police scientific advisers suggested that the heat of the explosion might have evaporated the lead content of the alloy, leaving pure tin. 

          Another police adviser working for Ferranti International noted that fragment PT35(b) had indications of being "home made".

          Neither the scientist's reports nor the Ferranti letter were followed up. All remained hidden in police files. The police and Crown Office ensured that the judges and defence team remained unaware of their contents.

          In the light of this new information the defence team consulted two prominent independent experts in the field. The experts repeatedly heat tested the evaporation theory with temperatures exceeding that of the bomb explosion. But the alloy of 70/30 tin/lead remained just that.

          Thuring, the company which manufactured the circuit boards used in MST13 timers , confirmed in an affidavit that they had always used a 70/30 tin/lead combination.  Fragment PT35(b) could not have come from one of their circuit boards. How it was made and by whom remains a mystery.

          Feraday either perjured himself or was grossly negligent. It was upon his statement and the identification evidence by Gauci that the case against Baset al-Megrahi would turn.

          All this information has been put repeatedly to the Scottish and British governments and police. They have totally ignored it. Instead, for more than two years they have claimed to be "pursuing other suspects" in the chaos that is  Libya. The "pursuit of other suspects" is by now clearly shown to be a tactic to delay matters indefinitely.

          Jane and Jim Swire
          The mystery surrounding fragment PT35(b) was examined in great detail by investigative author John Ashton in his 2012 book Megrahi: The Lockerbie Evidence.

          On the morning of the book's publication, announced at Edinburgh's 2012 International Book Fair, Prime Minister David Cameron described John Ashton's account as "An insult to the bereaved and dead of Lockerbie".

          The Lockerbie campaign will continue. We intend to prove - with the help of prominent friends from around the world - that the Lockerbie verdict was a disastrous miscarriage of justice.


          Friday, 27 January 2017

          Sad death of Tam Dalyell

          The former Labour MP and Father of the House Tam Dalyell died yesterday, the 26th January, after a short illness.

          Dr Jim Swire, a long time friend of Tam, has written this tribute to him:
          ________________________


          1988. TV interview about Lockerbie bombing
          We first met Tam and Kathleen after keen dissent began to arise over the handling of the background to the Lockerbie disaster of December 1988 in which our elder daughter Flora was amongst those brutally murdered.

          There is nothing on this earth that can counter the intensity of grief at the loss of a child, but the friendship and love of Tam Dalyell and his wife Kathleen often fed our strength and determination to establish the truth about all that was really known about the disaster. We felt enriched by their friendship.
          We came to know no other person, politician or not, who so exemplified true caring and integrity as did Tam and his wife.

          Because Tam lived within complex strata of society close to the heart of the Whitehall establishment, he was able to elicit confidences and assess allegations with an insider's knowledge second to none. As the truth about Lockerbie began to become clear through the fog of deception he was prepared to use his privileges and the respect in which he was held to progress the search for that truth.

          There was a difference of texture about Tam which stamped him immediately as a man who simply could not become contaminated with the half truths and convenient hiding places used by those prepared to tolerate convenient fictions in order to make their lives easier or their ascent towards power smoother. It was similar to how oil and water can share a space but never mix.

          Tam did not tolerate fools gladly and many of us will long remember the message he had  recorded on his answering machine, of which the key phrase was DO NOT GABBLE.

          Many years of dealing with those of lesser integrity had made him a master at assessing the integrity of others. Nor will we forget his working  'spitting image' kept at his home "The Binns" to the great amusement of both visitors and Tam and Kathleen themselves. Tam had become a thorn in the side of Margaret Thatcher to earn that accolade. But for those he trusted there was no stauncher friend

          I have no doubt that had Tam been prepared to compromise his integrity he would have risen to lead at least his party and probably his country. It was a key part of the measure of the man that he could never do that. .

          Although nothing can staunch the hurt of our loss of Flora, meeting Tam and his family and having them share in our suffering was an uplifting experience for which we shall be eternally grateful. Tam was a righteous and fearless soldier in the cause of what is right, and with the strength of Kathleen's support he was a tribute to all that was best in the old world preceding the post-truth age in which we are now said to live.

          We shall not see his like again, and Kathleen and the family, Linlithgow and a galaxy of other friends and acquaintances will miss him and his unique integrity of purpose for as long as memory lasts.  

          Our thoughts are with them all.
          Jim and Jane Swire                                 26th January 2017

          Footnote: Tam Dalyell was a strong supporter of the British relatives' campaign against the Lockerbie trial verdict and the imprisonment of the innocent Baset al-Megrahi.

          Tuesday, 17 January 2017

          Torture and a British Foreign Secretary

          In 2012 former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and his head of MI6 Counter-terrorism Sir Mark Allen were revealed to be implicated in secret deals with Libya's former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, his head of security Moussa Koussa, and the CIA, for the illegal apprehension and rendition for torture and interrogation of selected Libyan dissidents and their families.

          Belhaj. Kidnap and torture.
          It remains a poisonous aspect of British foreign policy which our so-called democratic governments are desperate to conceal from press and public. 
          Moussa Koussa


          After two years of delaying tactics by Straw's lawyers, two cases finally reached the public domain: Abdul Hakim Belhaj and his pregnant wife, and that of Sami al-Saadi with his wife and four children.

           On the 30th October 2014 the Court of Appeal ruled that Belhaj had a right to sue Jack Straw, Sir Mark Allen and the British government and others for their part in the rendition of himself and his wife. 


          Jack Straw argued that everything he had done was in accordance with British law. When challenged,  Tony Blair, who was Prime Minister at the time of the renditions, claimed that he could not remember the event.
          Tony Blair


          Three appeal judges demanded that a light be shone into dark corners of the state's work - and not for the first time. 

          Time and again the Court of Appeal has maintained that allegations of wrongdoing linked to security and intelligence must be examined if the rule of law is to be upheld. 

          Yet sadly for our so-called "democracy" successive governments persist with a wall of secrecy. On 8th November 2014 former Foreign Secretary and chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee Sir Malcolm Rifkind warned that an ISC inquiry into rendition and torture would not be concluded before the general election of May 2015.  He added: “Apart from that, we can’t even start on the Libyan stuff because of the police inquiries.”  

          By their actions the role of Britain as an intelligence underling of the USA continues and is strengthened.

          Over the last two years lawyers acting for MI6 and the Foreign Office have twisted and turned to avoid public scrutiny of events. 

          Today, however, there remains no escape from the truth.

          The Supreme Court has finally ruled that Straw and Sir Mark Allen must face up to the responsibility for their actions.
          See Today's BBC News









          Thursday, 5 January 2017

          A Fox changes its spots.

          Sean Hannity: Fox News.
          Fox News has for many years been the attack dog for the American war mongers.

          Its agenda has included personal attacks on all who dared to question the truth of statements by George Bush Jr during the run-up to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.

          The term "pin-head" patriots was fed into every presentation, with Bill O'Reilly leading the charge, aided by a muscular Sean Hannity.

          Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and his two "bomber henchmen" Baset al-Megrahi and Khalifa Fhimah became a Fox target with the destruction of Pan Am 103 in December 1988.

          Immediately following the destruction of New York's Twin Towers in September 2001, Fox aided the merging of the Lockerbie story with the general theme of revenge against all Arab terrorists, wherever they might be.

          During Baset al-Megrahi's first appeal in 2002 some US relatives had already accepted that merging and spoke freely to the press about their desire for revenge. 
          Julian Assange: WikiLeaks.
          When Julian Assange and WikiLeaks several years ago made public a first batch of telexes and emails, Fox News pilloried Assange as a traitor deserving American justice.

          Today, however, Fox News has discovered an agenda which parallels its own, and in a paradoxical way helps the cause of truth.  Below is a link to an extended and very friendly Hannity interview of Assange which took place on 2nd January 2017 in London's Ecuadorian embassy.

          Jim Swire and I have cause to be grateful to Assange. For within one batch of WikiLeaks releases is proof of US intelligence interest in Jim's activities and statements to the press.

          Al-Megrahi. Assassination target.
          There are, too, several classified emails recording discussions in 2011 advocating the kidnap and assassination of Baset Al-Megrahi even as he lay on his deathbed in Tripoli.

          These took place within STRATFOR, a major US intelligence contractor serving the White House and the Pentagon.

          One email refers to "tracking down" the dying Al-Megrahi, and, if found, "wacking" - assassinating - him in his home.

          The other, by the CEO of STRATFOR, is a suggestion that a hit team should invade his house and turn off his oxygen supply.

          Baset Al-Megrahi died before such threats might be enacted. 

          We do indeed live in interesting times.

          You can watch the Assange-Hannity interview here.






          Thursday, 22 December 2016

          Sad death of Andrew Killgore

          It is with deep sorrow that we learned yesterday of the death, on 20th December, of Andrew Killgore, former US ambassador to Qatar and long-time supporter of the campaign to find the truth behind the Lockerbie bombing.

          Andrew I. Killgore
          For the last 28 years, and from the first days immediately following the destruction of Pan Am 103, Andrew has throughout been a close follower of events.

          The magazine and organisation that he founded and developed, the Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs, is greatly respected among thinking politicians and truly investigative journalists around the world.

          Professor Robert Black has written the following on his blogsite http://lockerbiecase.blogspot.co.uk/

          In an email to Dr Jim Swire, Robert Forrester and Professor Robert Black, Janet McMahon, the managing editor of WRMEA, wrote:

          “I'm sorry to have to tell you the sad news that Andy Killgore died yesterday. He had gotten increasingly frail over the last year or so, and was developing a second round of pneumonia after a fall last Wednesday and did not want to go to a hospital. We visited him Friday afternoon, and he was alert, comfortable and in good spirits. We had planned to visit him again yesterday, but his daughters called us to say he had died. It is definitely a shock, but we are grateful that he did not suffer or have to endure a long painful death. His beloved family was with him.


          “As you know, he was very passionate about Lockerbie. I printed out all your communications to him and he read them avidly. He had his own idea about who was responsible, of course, but certainly agreed that there has been a most grievous cover-up. We often talked about going to London or Edinburgh if there were any major development. He felt close to you all, and was glad to have you as comrades-in-arms!”


          In his reply Dr Swire wrote:


          “The truth is that after 28 years all of us who like Andrew still feel passionately about the deception laid upon this tragedy are ageing now and others also among us have died.

          “In their memory as well as for the memory of all those who died at Lockerbie, we cannot let the matter rest, and lately I have come to believe that within the next couple of years the truth will burst out.
          “When it does that will be a good time to remember people like Andrew who gave so much sincerity to the search.”


          WRMEA’s obituary of Ambassador Killgore can be read here.

          Wednesday, 21 December 2016

          Lockerbie's 28 year lie: Take Two.

          In the light of recent speculation in the media that preparations are under way for a new posthumous appeal on behalf of Baset al-Megrahi, it may help public understanding if we revisit several two central issues of the Lockerbie case.
          ____________________________________________

          On the 21st December 1988 a terrorist bomb destroyed flight Pan Am 103 during its journey from Heathrow Airport in the UK to New York.

          Sections of the dismembered plane, 243 passengers and sixteen crew members fell across the Scottish town of Lockerbie and surrounding farms and fields. Eleven people on the ground were also killed.

          In 1991 two Libyan security officers were indicted for the crime. Their trial began in May 2000.
           
          Al-Megrahi
          The key prosecution claims were:
          1.  Several weeks before the attack, one of the accused, Baset al-Megrahi, purchased a selection of clothes from a Maltese clothing shop.


          2. Pieces of the clothing were found at the crash site.

          3.  Embedded within one of the pieces was a 4mm square fragment - PT35(b) - of an electronic timer board.

          4.  The FBI had proved that the fragment came from a batch of 20 such boards delivered in 1985 to Libya by Swiss electronics supplier MEBO.

          Fragment PT35(b).
          5.  Two witnesses would identify the suspects and prove the case beyond doubt. The first, a CIA informant Majid Giaka; the second, a Maltese shopkeeper Toni Gauci.


          The trial judges decided that Giaka  was untrustworthy, leaving Gauci as the sole identification witness.
          Discredited CIA witness Majid Giaka
          On 31st January 2001 al-Megrahi was found guilty. The second accused, Khalifa Fhimah, was freed with "No case to answer"
          Fhimah: No case to answer.

          In the years since the verdict it has become clear that the world has been cynically misled by the FBI, the CIA, and British and Scottish governments.
          1. In 1989 Britain's prime minister Margaret Thatcher was advised by the Americans not to enquire into the attack.


          Thatcher: Knew nothing of Lockerbie.
          2.  Even though she and her entourage had walked across the devastated town one day after the attack, she could not - in her 1993 memoir "The Downing Street Years" - recall the existence of Lockerbie.
          When asked by Father of the House MP Tam Dalyell why, she said: "I know nothing of Lockerbie, and do not write about something I do not know about." 
          3.  Seven years after the verdict the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) discovered significant new evidence concealed by police and Crown Office from the trial judges and defence team.
          4.  The SCCRC discovered a secret letter written by the King of Jordan to British prime minister John Major indicating that the Libyans were innocent of the crime.
          The King's letter claimed that the attack had been Iranian-
          Major: Knew Libyans were innocent.
          funded in revenge for the 1988 destruction by the USS Vincennes of an Iranian Air-Bus carrying 290 pilgrims to Mecca.

          5. Unknown to most journalists and public, the King had agreed to place in protective custody Marwan Khreesat, expert bomb-maker for a Palestinian group, the PFLP-GC. Khreesat had made bombs for the group in Germany, to be used to bring down American passenger planes heading for the US.
          Khreesat: Bombs to destroy US planes.

          6.  US and German intelligence knew that Iran had funded the Lockerbie attack. They had assembled a full dossier of intelligence proving that Khreesat and the Palestinian group were guilty.

          7.  On the sudden discovery of PT35(b), however, US intelligence reversed direction and accused Libya of the crime.
          8. The British government tried on two occasions to prevent the king's letter becoming public. The first, a Public Interest Immunity Certificate signed by Foreign Secretary David Miliband; the second, an unsuccessful attempt by Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt to close down a Scottish newspaper to prevent publication of the story.
          Burt: Intended to close down newspaper.

          9.  The SCCRC re-examined evidence given in the trial and discovered that al-Megrahi was not on the island of Malta on the day that the clothing was purchased.
          10.  The SCCRC also discovered that police diaries of chief police investigator Harry Bell contained a record of multi-million dollar offers of payment to the Maltese shopkeeper Gauci "provided" - in the words of a letter to Harry Bell from the US Department of Justice - "he gives evidence." 

          Gauci. $3 million for his evidence
          11.  The SCCRC also re-examined all the evidence given by Gauci. They concluded that his so-called "identification" was founded on numerous viewings of photographs of al-Megrahi in the media and magazines, all linking him to the bombing. Gauci's evidence was therefore not credible, and the trial judges had been mistaken.

          ****
          Was the Lockerbie fragment PT35(b) a fake? During the trial in 2000 there were suspicions about how it had been discovered and reported on by government scientists. The trial judges had discounted these suspicions.

          Then in 2009 the al-Megrahi defence team made a startling discovery. In the years since the trial and first appeal they had managed to obtain a huge set of documents from police and Scottish Crown archives. Among the documents was the forensic notebook of scientific witness Allen Feraday.

          Feraday had compared PT35(b) with control samples from MST13 timer circuit boards similar to those supplied to Libya in 1985 by MEBO.

          He told the trial judges: "the fragment materials and tracking pattern are similar in all respects" to that of the MST13 timer.

          But nine years prior to the trial, on 1st August 1991, when examining both the fragment and a MEBO MST13 timer circuit board, he had made two hand-written entries in his notebook which contradicted this.

          The first recorded that tracks on fragment PT35(b) were protected by a layer of "Pure tin". 
          Pure tin.
          Alloy of 70% tin - 30% lead
          The second said that tracks on the circuit of a control sample MST13 board were covered by an alloy of "70% tin and 30% lead".

          Feraday and the police were fully aware of the difference. Two police scientific advisers suggested that the heat of the explosion might have evaporated the lead content of the alloy, leaving pure tin. 

          Another police adviser working for Ferranti International noted that fragment PT35(b) had indications of being "home made".

          Neither the scientist's reports nor the Ferranti letter were followed up. All remained hidden in police files. The police and Crown Office ensured that the judges and defence team remained unaware of their contents.

          In the light of this new information the defence team consulted two prominent independent experts in the field. The experts repeatedly heat tested the evaporation theory with temperatures exceeding that of the bomb explosion. But the alloy of 70/30 tin/lead remained just that.

          Thuring, the company which manufactured the circuit boards used in MST13 timers , confirmed in an affidavit that they had always used a 70/30 tin/lead combination.  Fragment PT35(b) did not, therefore, come from one of their circuit boards. How it was made and by whom remains a mystery.

          Feraday either perjured himself or was grossly negligent. It was upon his statement and the identification evidence by Gauci that the case against Baset al-Megrahi would turn.

          All this information has been put repeatedly to the Scottish and British governments and police. They have totally ignored it. Instead, for almost two years they have claimed to be "pursuing other suspects" in the chaos that is today Libya. The "search" is by now clearly a tactic designed to delay matters indefinitely.

          Jane and Jim Swire
          The mystery surrounding fragment PT35(b) was examined in great detail by investigative author John Ashton in his 2012 book Megrahi: The Lockerbie Evidence.

          On the morning of the book's publication, announced at Edinburgh's 2012 International Book Fair, Prime Minister David Cameron described John Ashton's account as "An insult to the bereaved and dead of Lockerbie".

          The Lockerbie campaign will continue. We intend to prove - with the help of prominent friends from around the world - that the Lockerbie verdict was a disastrous miscarriage of justice.


          Wednesday, 19 October 2016

          Police report on Operation Sandwood still not available

          [We wrote the following in March 2016. At the time, the police promised that Operation Sandwood would be complete "in two months time". Today is 19th October 2016, still no sign of their report.  People say that silence is golden. Golden for whom?]

          Scotland's Lord Advocate is to step down from his position as Scotland's leading law officer. Click here for more...

          Lord Advocate Mulholland
          His decision comes just days after a media conference held in Edinburgh's Dynamic Earth conference centre on 16th March, chaired by representatives of Justice for Megrahi.

          At that conference there were calls for the Lord Advocate to consider his position, following a special police investigation - Operation Sandwood - into allegations of criminality including those by his predecessor Lord Boyd and a key forensic witness during the Lockerbie trial of Libyan Baset al-Megrahi.

          It is understood that the Operation Sandwood report will be available for consideration in approximately two months time.

          Recently in an unusual move, the National Scottish Police Force has appointed an independent QC to advise it on the Sandwood inquiry because it felt unable to ask Crown Office lawyers to assess the evidence of alleged wrongdoing against certain Crown officers.  Click here for more on this story.

          Al-Megrahi was convicted in 2000 for the Lockerbie bombing, in which 259 passengers and eleven townspeople were killed by a bomb placed on flight Pan Am 103.