And we need to be heard
played his part in trying to discover the truth.
Five years ago, he travelled to Sweden to confront Mohammed Abo Talb, a convicted terrorist then recently released from a 20-year sentence in that country, hoping to question him over his suspected role in the bombing.
The terrorist hid from the then 77-year-old behind his wife, refusing even to talk through an open second-floor window.
In Scotland and in the US, the authorities continue to maintain that Megrahi was guilty and that the bombing was planned and paid for by Libya, though the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission is expected to refer Megrahi’s case for a posthumous appeal shortly.
In 2007, the Commission said there may have been a miscarriage of justice on six grounds, among them the fact that no reasonable court could have convicted Megrahi on the evidence presented, a damning condemnation of the verdict.
In 2009, Megrahi, by then diagnosed with terminal cancer, abandoned his appeal in order to secure a transfer home to Libya. But Swire is certain that the SCCRC cannot ignore the evidence it had unearthed more than a decade earlier.
“I am certain there will be another appeal, and that the conviction cannot be maintained in the face of overwhelming evidence that points away from my friend,” he says. “But the authorities DEVASTATED: Jim Swire today, damage in Lockerbie and right, Jim and wife Jane holding photo of Flora
are in no hurry. They like to delay. They create the delays, and I wonder whether I will even see the conviction quashed, never mind the investigation that must follow into who really did it.”
Swire, like many informed Lockerbie watchers, believes the terror group, the PFLP-GC, the first suspects in the case, were the culprits, and that the bombing was ordered and paid for by Iran.
When an Iran Airbus carrying pilgrims to Mecca was shot down over the Gulf by the US vessel Vincennes five months before Lockerbie, killing all 290 on board, the Iranians said the skies would run with the blood of Americans.
Rather than offer an apology, the Americans further provoked the Iranians by giving William C Rogers III, the captain of the Vincennes, an award for “bravery”. Swire was appalled by the disregard the US displayed for the Iranian victims and remains certain that it contributed to the Lockerbie bombing.
His anger, however, is not confined only to the culprits, or even to the US and Scottish investigators, who he believes wilfully ignored the evidence against Iran and the PFLP-GC to pursue Libya for political reasons.
CRUCIAL to the pursuit of the regime in Tripoli was the theory that the bomb was detonated by a sophisticated timer, and started its journey in an unaccompanied suitcase on an Air Malta flight from Luqa Airport, where Megrahi and Fhimah worked for Libyan Arab Airlines. The bag was then supposed to be tagged to go on to Pan Am 103A, a feeder flight from Frankfurt to Heathrow for the ongoing flight to JFK. The trial heard no evidence to support the three-flight theory, yet the judges accepted it.
Swire is therefore also angry with successive UK governments for allowing it to happen in the first place and then for failing to deliver truth and justice. He still craves the full public inquiry.
“When Sheriff Principal John Mowatt QC published his report in October 1990 into the fatal accident inquiry he chaired, he said the bombing had been avoidable,” he says.
“Cecil Parkinson, who became Secretary of State for Transport in 1989, promised the relatives a full public inquiry, then had to let us down because Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wouldn’t allow it.
“In the lead-up to Labour winning the general election in 1997, we met with Robin Cook and Tony Blair and were promised it would be different when they won power. After they won, they stopped returning our calls.
“We know there were warnings to intelligence agencies about a threat to Pan Am flights at this time. We know this plane was only two-thirds full when every other flight from Heathrow to JFK in that week before Christmas flew at least at 95 per cent capacity and we know that some VIPs who were booked on the flight didn’t travel.
“We also believe the ‘three-flights’ theory to be nonsense. The judges said the Crown had failed to prove there was an unaccompanied case on the flight from Malta to Frankfurt and clung to the flimsiest possibility of an unaccompanied case on the flight to Heathrow.
“All the evidence tells us the bomb was loaded at Heathrow. It was our government’s responsibility to keep Flora and all the others safe.
“Any parent would be shouting for answers, and 30 years on we are still shouting and we need to be heard.”