Sunday 3 June 2012

For those who may still doubt

Surely by now, among those who have examined all the evidence regarding the supposed guilt of Baset Al-Megrahi, can there be any lingering doubt? 

And for the benefit of any remaining doubters, we invite them to consider the two main planks on which the prosecution's case was founded.

1.  A Maltese shopkeeper, Tony Gauci, identified Al-Megrahi as the stranger who had, shortly before the December 1988 bombing, bought clothes in his shop. 

2.  A fragment of an electronic timer board found at Lockerbie came from a batch of twenty sold to Libya in 1985 by Swiss electronics company MEBO. 

1.  The Maltese shopkeeper, Tony Gauci. 

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, during their own three-year investigation of the case, found six grounds for concluding that  "a miscarriage of justice may have occurred".

One of the SCCRC's grounds was their discovery of a series of entries in the police diary of chief Dumfries and Galloway police investigator Harry Bell. 

Bell recorded from the first days of his investigation that huge offers of reward were available from the United States to principal identification witness Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci.

In  a letter sent by Dana Biel of the US Department of Justice, it was explained that Gauci would receive "unlimited monies, with $10,000 available immediately" if Al-Megrahi was convicted.

Bell's police diary, and all knowledge of this offer and negotiations concerning the offer, were concealed from the trial and first appeal.  The judges who convicted Al-Megrahi were unaware of these matters when they concluded that Gauci was a totally reliable witness.

Gauci's final and conclusive identification of Al-Megrahi took place during a police identity parade. In the words of a respected Scottish legal expert, "so widespread had been the publicity [regarding Al-Megrahi's guilt] most people following the case could have probably picked the accused out without ever having met him".

Yet Gauci had the advantage over such people, since he had had in his possession for several weeks a copy of a magazine with a colour photo of Al-Megrahi, in which the Libyan was described as "the bomber".

2. The fragment of electronic timer board

It was upon this item that the entire case against Al-Megrahi would turn. In the minds of the judges it proved the Libyan connection, since the evidence appeared to show that it came from a batch sold to Libya in 1985.

It had - according to the available evidence - been manufactured by Swiss company Thuring, on behalf of electronics supplier MEBO. It seemed to be a "golden thread" linking Al-Megrahi to the bomb.

In 2008 the Al-Megrahi defence team discovered an extraordinary anomaly, one which had escaped the attention of the prosecution team, the Scottish Crown Office, and the Scottish police. It concerned the silver-like protective coating on the fragment, which covered the copper circuitry in order to prevent oxidisation. 

A hand-written note by the government's chief forensic scientist Alan Feraday had recorded the protective coating as "100% tin".

Feraday's records also showed that he was aware of the difference between the Lockerbie fragment and the coating upon a control sample supplied to the police as part of their investigation. The control sample - manufactured by Swiss company Thuring - contained a 70/30% alloy of tin and lead.

The prosecution and police mistake was to speculate that the heat of the Lockerbie explosion had entirely evaporated the lead content. But no follow-up investigations or tests were carried out.

During the trial, the judges and defence team were unaware of the anomaly and accepted the provenance of the fragment from the metallurgical point of view.

When in 2008 the defence team checked with Thuring, it emerged that all timer boards made by that company were coated with an alloy mixture of 70% tin and 30% lead.

In 2008 the Thuring production manager swore an affidavit to this effect and was scheduled to repeat his  evidence in Al-Megrahi's second appeal, abandoned in 2009.

Having discovered the anomaly, the defence team commissioned two highly experienced and reputable scientists to investigate the matter.  In a series of experiments carried out at separate laboratories, the scientists tested the theory of evaporation of lead content by high temperatures.

In all cases, the lead did not evaporate. Thus they established beyond all reasonable doubt that the fragment found at Lockerbie could not have come from any of the timers sold to Libya by MEBO.

This evidence too was scheduled to be presented in Al-Megrahi's second appeal, abandoned in 2009.

The protocols and data resulting from the defence-commissioned experiments would no doubt be  freely available, should the prosecuting authorities request to examine them.

All such information would be presented in court should the relatives or other persons representing Mr Al-Megrahi persuade the Criminal Cases Review Commission to ask for a recommencement of a second appeal.

The new scientific data regarding the fragment suggests strongly that to repeatedly send police and Crown Office investigators to Libya has become an irrelevance. 

The above statement uses information contained in the extraordinary book, Megrahi: You are my Jury, written by journalist and author John Ashton.

We are deeply grateful to John and to Tony Kelly and the Al-Megrahi defence team for their determined and successful pursuit of the truth.

This information is also contained in an expert analysis of the latest evidence, LOCKERBIE: Fact and Fiction, written on behalf of Justice for Megrahi. The analysis has already been sent to all Scottish MSPs, and is shortly to be sent to all Westminster MPs. 


  1. In January 1990, Interfor gave three of the baggage handlers polygraphs and two of them were judged as being deceitful when denying any involvement in baggage switching. However, neither the U.S., UK or German investigators showed any interest in the results, or in questioning the baggage handlers. Instead, the polygrapher, James Keefe, was hauled before a Washington grand jury, and, as he puts it, "They were bent on destroying my credibility -- not theirs" [the baggage handlers]. To Interfor, the lack of interest in the polygraph results and the attempt at intimidation of Keefe was the strongest evidence of a cover-up by the various government authorities who did not want their permissive role in the baggage switching to be revealed.

  2. "All sorts of fanciful (or not so fanciful) theories abounded, from (DEA and or CIA) drug operations gone wrong, to a possible attack on the five intelligence personnel, to one that suggested Bernt Carlsson, a high ranking U.N. diplomat, may have been the intended target." So said Ian Ferguson in his 2003 article "Pan Am 103: Searching for the truth".