Sunday, 23 April 2017

Megrahi: Second appeal by Megrahi family

The family of wrongly convicted Libyan Baset al-Megrahi are to request a second appeal. 


Baset al-Megrahi: Died in 2012.
Until now, the chaos in Libya following the 2011 NATO destruction of the country has made matters complex and difficult for the family.

Today, however, it has been announced that the Megrahi family, in a recent Zurich meeting with lawyer Aamer Anwar, agreed the terms of an official request to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC). That request is to be delivered to the Commission "within days". 


Suspect bomb timer fragment
The new grounds for appeal include ­questions over the integrity of evidence ­produced by the Crown at the original trial. They will re-examine the provenance of a circuit board fragment said to have been found seventeen miles from the crash site. Questions will also be raised concerning a supposed purchase of clothes by Megrahi from a shop in Malta owned
Gauci: Key identification witness.
by key identification witness Tony Gauci.
In 2007. after a three year investigation, the SCCRC ruled that ­Megrahi’s conviction was potentially a miscarriage of justice. They discovered six reasons for that conclusion. Their six reasons did not include scientific information since discovered in relation to the bomb timer fragment. But because of severe difficulties and uncertain systems of government in Libya, the family's circumstances have so far prevented an appeal request.
In 2016 British victims’ relatives, led by Dr Jim Swire, tried to have the conviction overturned posthumously but the SCCRC ruled they could only re-examine matters if requested by the family.
Following secret meetings in Zurich, attended by members of the family, lawyer Aamer Anwar, Jim Swire and MEBO director Edwin Bollier, that barrier has been overcome.
Al-Megrahi's widow Aisha said: “I wish to pursue this appeal in my husband’s name to have his ­conviction overturned, to clear his name and to clear the name of my family. The world will say sorry to my husband and my family one day. That’s all I wish to say.”
Ali al-Megrahi
Megrahi's son Ali, 22, added: “I still feel bad that my father was innocent and locked up in prison for so many years. I lost my father and although nobody can bring him back, I still want justice for him. I’m sure that, with the new appeal, my father’s name will be cleared from all ­allegations."
"The Lockerbie affair hit my family very, very hard and we’re looking forward to the day that Scottish justice prevails and that we can live in peace again.
“We hope the authorities of Scotland will make it possible to correct the controversial verdict and give all the families who lost loved ones, including ours, real justice.”
Lawyer Aamer Anwar said: “The Lockerbie case has often been described as the worst miscarriage of justice in British legal ­history.
“A reversal of the verdict would mean that the governments of the United States and the UK would be accused of having lived a monumental lie for over a quarter of a century and having imprisoned a man they knew to be innocent for the worst mass murder on British soil.
“The reputation of our criminal ­justice system has suffered at home and internationally because of the widespread doubts over the conviction of al-Megrahi. The only place those doubts can truly be addressed are in the Court of Appeal.”
MacAskill: Willing to give evidence.
The former Scottish Minister for Justice, Kenny MacAskill has promised to come forward if asked. “If I am called to give evidence, I will give evidence. Due ­process will take place and I will fully co-operate.”
Jim Swire in a ruined Tripoli.
Dr Swire expressed his hopes for a new appeal: “Shortly before Megrahi died, I met him in Tripoli and reassured him I would still do everything I could to clear his name. I am delighted that this request for an appeal is now to be placed before the SCCRC.”

Monday, 17 April 2017

Recalling death of award winning film director Allan Francovich

A whole new generation has come and many now have children of their own, since the terrible night of 21st December 1988, The Lockerbie Bombing.

In 1993 award-winning film director Allan Francovich carried out his
Allan Francovich
own investigation into the bombing, why it had happened, and who could have been responsible.


He died on this date - 17th April - in 1997. We are grateful to Professor Robert Black QC, Emeritus professor of Scots Law at Edinburgh University, who has provided extracts from an obituary written for The Independent by former MP and Father of the House Tam Dalyell.


"That Allan Francovich should die prematurely, succumbing to a heart attack in the Customs Area of Houston Airport, is hardly astonishing to those whose lives were touched by this remarkable, hyperactive film director. I picture him arriving to meet me in the Central Lobby of the House of Commons, bag and baggage full of contents, out of breath, and blurting out the latest discovery that he had made about the iniquity of the authorities.


He reeled off facts at a mind-boggling rate. Yet, unlike most conspiracy theorists - of which he was proud to be one - Francovich was scrupulous about fact, and particularly about unpalatable facts which did not suit his suspicions. I never caught him cutting any inconvenient corners to arrive at the conclusion he wanted. He was, above all, a seeker after truth, wheresoever that truth might lead. (...)


My first introduction to Francovich was from Dr Jim Swire of the British Lockerbie Victims, who said that he had persuaded the best investigative film director in America to turn his attention to the crash of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire, on 21 December 1988 that had killed his daughter Flora along with 269 other victims.
John Ashton
Once persuaded that there was a cause for suspicion, Francovich was the most determined of ferrets. The end result was his film The Maltese Double Cross (1995), made in conjunction with his fervently loyal colleagues John Ashton and David Ben-Aryeah and their cameraman Jeremy Stavenhagen. The showing of the film on Channel 4, and in
David Ben Aryeah
the House of Commons, did more than anything else to awaken the British from J S Mill's "deep slumber of a decided opinion" about responsibility for Lockerbie.
Quite simply, Francovich proved the so-called Malta connection, on which the case against Libya depends, was a fabrication. Francovich identified the shooting down by the USS Vincennes of an Iranian airliner carrying pilgrims to Mecca as the starting point for Lockerbie. The Iranian Minister of the Interior, Ali Akbar Mostashemi, swore that there should be a "rain of blood" in revenge. He had been, crucially, the Iranian ambassador in Damascus from 1982 to 1985, and had close connections with the terrorist gangs of Beirut and the Bekaa valley.
Khaled Jaffar. US Drug courier.

They had infiltrated an American drug sting operation, which allowed them to circumvent the security precautions at the Rhine Main airport in Frankfurt. It was typical of Francovich that he could go to the Jafaar family of the naive courier who had perished in Pan Am 103, and capture them on film in a powerful sequence showing up the activities of the Neuss terrorist gang operating in Germany.
It was Francovich's multi-dimensional, multilingual talents which I am sure will eventually unlock the truth about Lockerbie. Rare indeed, outside fiction, are the crusaders of truth who, time and again, have put themselves in personal danger as Francovich did.
Allan Francovich, film director: born New York 1941; married 1970 Kathleen Weaver (marriage dissolved 1985); died Houston, Texas 17 April 1997."

So how might we view Francovich's film in the light of recent history?

On December 14th 2014 - almost the twenty-sixth anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing - the investigative journalist Alexander Zaitchik of AlterNet wrote an extraordinary history of Francovich's award-winning documentary that was banned in the US and Britain. 
Alexander Zaitchik
(Bing Images)

Contained within Alexander's history is a link to the film documentary.  It marches alongside other attempts by British and US authorities to prevent public knowledge and discussion, including the continued concealment of trial evidence, denial of proven scientific truths about forensic evidence, and even attempts to temporarily close down a Scottish newspaper. (All detailed in previous posts on this site).

The American authorities spent $20m ensuring that Francovich's The Maltese Double Cross would never be seen in the USA. And the British, in their usual side-kick-of-America manner, almost ensured its complete banning in Britain. Over time, they have both failed. The film is available today from many internet sources, and has been viewed by millions.  

Truth really does have that annoying habit of refusing to obey the instructions of those in power. All the truth about Lockerbie has not yet been revealed. But rest assured that in the not too distant future, it will be. 

[Footnote: One of the best-known documentaries of Allan Francovich is his exposé of the C.I.A., On Company Business (1980). The film won him the International Critics Award for Best Documentary at the Berlin Film Festival. Born in New York City, Francovich was the son of a mining engineer and raised in various Bolivian and Peruvian mining camps. He attended Notre Dame University in Peru, the Sorbonne in France, and received a master's degree in dramatic arts from the University of California, Berkeley. He married Kathleen Weaver, a translator and writer, in 1970 and worked closely with her until they split up in 1985. Francovich's last film, The Maltese Double Cross, was released in 1994 and won first prize for a Documentary at that year's Edinburgh Film Festival. 
Read more at http://www.allmovie.com/artist/allan-francovich-p90341#zK72rwMDxC4C1fil.99]

Monday, 10 April 2017

Kill 290 innocents: Get an award for bravery

Vincennes target crew
How do you kill 290 innocent people: men, women, including 66 children?

And how do you get a medal for bravery in action against America's imagined enemies? 

 
The Vincennes: Bravery in action. 


290 dead pilgrims

July 1988. Iran vows revenge against the USA
July 1988.  CLICK HERE to see how you do it. See the maps, the paranoia, the stupidity. America called it an unfortunate mistake. Yet they gave the captain a medal for bravery in action against an enemy.

290 murdered Iranian pilgrims. This was the reason for the December 1988 Lockerbie bombing, which killed 270 innocent people.  At least, that's what CIA classified reports said for almost two years. 

After that, America needed Syrian and Iranian support in the 1991 Gulf war. So an easy target was required as some kind of scapegoat. Those CIA reports were quietly shelved, and in November 1991, out of the blue, came evidence against Libya. 
Bomb timer fragment? Forensic witness perjury or negligence


Unfortunately for America and the British, that evidence has been shown to be based on negligence or perjury,
The identification witness: Multi-million dollar payments
and multi-million dollar payments to the sole identification witness, "provided he gives evidence" [Words of US Department of Justice, in a letter to the Lockerbie chief police investigator].



Sunday, 26 March 2017

Hands Off Libya: It belongs to the West.

Sir Michael Fallon, the UK's Defence Secretary has warned Russia to not interfere in Libya. Why? Because after the UK/US led destruction of Libya in 2011, the West has attempted to rebuild Libya in its own image. 


Sadly for Libya the plans of mice and men have gone sadly awry. Libya has two de facto governments; one recognised by the West and the UN, another recognised by Russia and controlled by new strong-man General Hafta.
 

Fallon on Launch Deck of Trident Submarine.

Fallon and the UK government now see NATO - originally created to defend Europe against the Soviet Union - as having a duty to control the Middle East and North Africa including Libya. NATO's role has changed from one of defence to that of inflicting Western wars and regime change. 


This recent Daily Telegraph - highly slanted - report hints at the chaos of Libya, and includes a cuddly mini-bio of the UK's Defence Secretary. Written by himself? Or dictated to a friendly Telegraph reporter over lunch? 

In the light of Fallon's comments, we might also visit an extract from Professor Noam Chomsky's book "Who Rules the World?"

Noam Chomsky
[In a televised interview still available on Youtube, retired four-star general Wesley Clark revealed that within three weeks of the 9/11 attack of 2002, President George Bush secretly issued a strategic call to the Pentagon to destroy seven Middle Eastern governments in five years. America's strategy is still a work in progress. In his new book Professor Chomsky focuses on key areas, including the following: Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. The Libyan regime was destroyed in 2011.] 

The Challenges Today: The Islamic World
Let us turn to the third region of major concern, the (largely) Islamic world, also the scene of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) that George W. Bush declared in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attack. To be more accurate, re-declared. 
Gen. Wesley Clark

The GWOT was declared by the Reagan administration when it took office, with fevered rhetoric about a “plague spread by depraved opponents of civilization itself” (as Reagan put it) and a “return to barbarism in the modern age” (the words of George Shultz, his secretary of state). 

The original GWOT has been quietly removed from history. It very quickly turned into a murderous and destructive terrorist war afflicting Central America, southern Africa, and the Middle East, with grim repercussions to the present, even leading to condemnation of the United States by the World Court (which Washington dismissed). In any event, it is not the right story for history, so it is gone.

Destruction of Afghanistan.

The success of the Bush-Obama version of GWOT can readily be evaluated on direct inspection. When the war was declared, the terrorist targets were confined to a small corner of tribal Afghanistan. They were protected by Afghans, who mostly disliked or despised them, under the tribal code of hospitality – which baffled Americans when poor peasants refused “to turn over Osama bin Laden for the, to them, astronomical sum of $25 million.”

There are good reasons to believe that a well-constructed police action, or even serious diplomatic negotiations with the Taliban, might have placed those suspected of the 9/11 crimes in American hands for trial and sentencing. But such options were off the table.

Instead, the reflexive choice was large-scale violence – not with the goal of overthrowing the Taliban (that came later) but to make clear U.S. contempt for tentative Taliban offers of the possible extradition of bin Laden. 

How serious these offers were we do not know, since the possibility of exploring them was never entertained. Or perhaps the United States was just intent on “trying to show its muscle, score a victory and scare everyone in the world. They don’t care about the suffering of the Afghans or how many people we will lose.”

That was the judgment of the highly respected anti-Taliban leader Abdul Haq, one of the many oppositionists who condemned the American bombing campaign launched in October 2001 as "a big setback" for their efforts to overthrow the Taliban from within, a goal they considered within their reach. 

His judgment is confirmed by Richard A. Clarke, who was chairman of the Counterterrorism Security Group at the White House under President George W. Bush when the plans to attack Afghanistan were made. 

As Clarke describes the meeting, when informed that the attack would violate international law, "the President yelled in the narrow conference room, ‘I don’t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass.’" 

The attack was also bitterly opposed by the major aid organizations working in Afghanistan, who warned that millions were on the verge of starvation and that the consequences might be horrendous.
The consequences for poor Afghanistan years later need hardly be reviewed.

Destruction of Iraq.

Defenceless Baghdad attacked
The road to Basra. Sixty kilometres of death
The next target of the sledgehammer was Iraq. The U.S.-UK invasion, utterly without credible pretext, is the major crime of the twenty-first century.  
US invasion
Unknown Iraqi soldier
  The invasion led to the death of hundreds of thousands of people in a country where the civilian society had already been devastated by American and British sanctions that were regarded as “genocidal” by the two distinguished international diplomats who administered them, and resigned in protest for this reason. 
Millions of refugees. Thousands drowned.


The invasion also generated millions of refugees, largely destroyed the country, and instigated a sectarian conflict that is now tearing apart Iraq and the entire region. It is an astonishing fact about our intellectual and moral culture that in informed and enlightened circles it can be called, blandly, “the liberation of Iraq.”

Pentagon and British Ministry of Defense polls found that only 3% of Iraqis regarded the U.S. security role in their neighborhood as legitimate, less than 1% believed that “coalition” (U.S.-UK) forces were good for their security, 80% opposed the presence of coalition forces in the country, and a majority supported attacks on coalition troops. 

Afghanistan has been destroyed beyond the possibility of reliable polling, but there are indications that something similar may be true there as well. Particularly in Iraq the United States suffered a severe defeat, abandoning its official war aims, and leaving the country under the influence of the sole victor, Iran.

Destruction of Libya.

The sledgehammer was also wielded elsewhere, notably in Libya, where the three traditional imperial powers (Britain, France, and the United States) procured Security Council resolution 1973 and instantly violated it, becoming the air force of the rebels. 

The effect was to undercut the possibility of a peaceful, negotiated settlement; sharply increase casualties (by at least a factor of 10, according to political scientist Alan Kuperman); leave Libya in ruins, in the hands of warring militias; and, more recently, to provide the Islamic State with a base that it can use to spread terror beyond.  
Blair: "Act of humanity"
Gaddafi slaughtered like an animal


Quite sensible diplomatic proposals by the African Union, accepted in principle by Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, were ignored by the imperial triumvirate, as Africa specialist Alex de Waal reviews. A huge flow of weapons and jihadis has spread terror and violence from West Africa (now the champion for terrorist murders) to the Levant, while the NATO attack also sent a flood of refugees from Africa to Europe.

Yet another triumph of “humanitarian intervention,” and, as the long and often ghastly record reveals, not an unusual one, going back to its modern origins four centuries ago.

Noam Chomsky is institute professor emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His new book, Who Rules the World? (Metropolitan Books, 2016). 
His website is www.chomsky.info/

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