The Scottish Mail on Sunday

My daugh­ter was blown up over Lockerbie 32 years ago, but why are we still blam­ing the wrong peo­ple for her mur­der?

- By JIM SWIRE • In­ter­view by Mar­cello Mega. Crime · Lockerbie · Pan American Airways Corporation · United States of America · Elizabeth II · London · Libya · Iran · William P. Barr · William · Muammar al-Gaddafi · Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine · Toshiba · Boeing · Boeing 747 · Vincennes, Indiana · Airbus · Moscow · United Kingdom · Government of the United Kingdom · London Heathrow Airport · Malta · Frankfurt · Cambridge · Flora · Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi · Heathrow, FL

MY daugh­ter was murdered 32 years ago to­mor­row on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie. For us, the an­niver­sary is no dif­fer­ent to the other 364 days. We re­mem­ber Flora and feel her loss ev­ery day.

She would have cel­e­brated her 24th birth­day in Amer­ica with her boyfriend the next day. I’m sure she would have been a mother by now. That day, our fam­ily lost a beloved daugh­ter and sis­ter, and all the fu­ture joy she would have brought us.

I have no doubt she would have had a won­der­ful ca­reer. She wanted to spe­cialise in neu­rol­ogy and had done so bril­liantly at not­ting­ham Univer­sity that she had been given time out to set up her own re­search project at Queen Square Hos­pi­tal, Lon­don, l ook­ing at how HIV af­fected the brain.

I have many rea­sons to be an­gry. Much of my anger is di­rected at our Gov­ern­ment and pros­e­cu­tion service, and the US au­thor­i­ties.

I won­der why they are still try­ing to blame the wrong peo­ple for my daugh­ter’s death.

To hear last week the US in­tends to pur­sue an­other Libyan sus­pected of mak­ing the bomb that murdered 270 peo­ple fills me with de­spair, as does the news there is ‘fresh ev­i­dence’ link­ing a se­cond sus­pect.

Amer­i­can in­ves­ti­ga­tors refuse to ac­knowl­edge the many flaws in the case that blamed Libya, and they con­tinue the cha­rade, ig­nor­ing all the ev­i­dence point­ing to Iran. now, cyn­i­cally I be­lieve, while five Scot­tish judges con­sider the post­hu­mous ap­peal raised by the fam­ily of Ab­del­baset Ali Mohmed Al Me­grahi – the only man con­victed of the bomb­ing – out­go­ing US at­tor­ney-gen­eral Wil­liam Barr will an­nounce they want to try Abu Agila Mo­ham­mad Ma­sud, al­legedly a bomb-maker for the late Libyan leader Muam­mar Gaddafi.

The se­cond sus­pect, Ab­dul­lah Al Senussi, is the ex-in­tel­li­gence chief and brother-in-law of Gaddafi.

Mr Barr held the same po­si­tion when Me­grahi was first charged in 1991. Hav­ing sud­denly and in­ex­pli­ca­bly changed the fo­cus of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion from Iran to Libya in the be­gin­ning, he ap­pears to have rounded the cir­cle when no cred­i­ble ev­i­dence re­mains against Libya. I won­der if the tim­ing now was con­trived to put pres­sure on the judges.

To be­lieve the Crown’s case against Me­grahi, you have to be­lieve in a se­ries of as­ton­ish­ing co­in­ci­dences.

In oc­to­ber 1988 a Euro­pean cell of the PFLP-GC ter­ror group was raided by the Ger­man se­cret po­lice in neuss. Four bombs were re­cov­ered, all hid­den in Toshiba cas­sette-recorders. Mem­bers ad­mit­ted one de­vice had been taken away by their leader.

The de­vices had a sim­ple timer that ran for half an hour af­ter be­ing trig­gered by low­ered air pres­sure at al­ti­tude. on a Boe­ing 747 this would oc­cur seven min­utes into the flight. The ex­plo­sion was 37 min­utes af­ter take-off. The ev­i­dence la­bel for the frag­ment sup­pos­edly linked to Libya was the only one of thou­sands of pro­duc­tions to be al­tered. orig­i­nally it read ‘charred cloth’, but the word ‘de­bris’ was over­writ­ten, pre­sum­ably when the de­bris it­self was added.

The case for Iran as cul­prit is far stronger. Five months be­fore Lockerbie, the USS Vin­cennes, a war­ship pa­trolling the Gulf, shot down an Ira­nian Air­bus, killing all 290 on board. Iran vowed the skies would run with the blood of Amer­i­cans. The US of­fered no apol­ogy.

Se­cu­rity warn­ings were shared by West­ern in­tel­li­gence ser­vices from oc­to­ber 1988 that ter­ror­ists in­tended to bomb a US air­craft.

The later warn­ings were spe­cific to Pan Am, prompt­ing the US to of­fer em­bassy staff in Moscow the chance to fly home for Christ­mas with an­other air­line. But the UK

Gov­ern­ment did noth­ing, fail­ing to pro­tect Flora and the other 269 vic­tims, de­spite Heathrow hav­ing been no­ti­fied of a bomb threat.

The story that saw Me­grahi wrongly con­victed of mass mur­der has the bomb on flights from Malta to Frank­furt and then on to Heathrow, but that did not hap­pen.

Even the judges who found Me­grahi guilty in 2001 ac­knowl­edged the Crown had failed to show an un­ac­com­pa­nied bag flew on the flight from Malta. The Maid of the Seas, the Boe­ing 747 that would dis­in­te­grate over Lockerbie, was loaded from empty at Heathrow.

Ev­i­dence of a break-in at Heathrow the night be­fore – which would have let some­one plant the suit­case with the bomb in the rel­e­vant area – was known to the Scot­tish po­lice, and must there­fore have been known to the Crown, but was not re­vealed to Me­grahi’s de­fence.

At the time, Heathrow had been no­ti­fied by the UK depart­ment of Trans­port of the threat of bombs in Toshiba cas­sette-recorders.

We have a copy of a telex sent to Heathrow two days be­fore Lockerbie, warn­ing that such bombs would be hard to see on X-rays.

In­cred­i­bly, it told se­cu­rity staff at the air­port that if an item looked un­cer­tain on X-ray and was to be car­ried, it ‘could only be car­ried in the hold of the air­craft’.

The sup­pres­sion of ev­i­dence that did not fit their case was a de­lib­er­ate tac­tic of pros­e­cu­tors.

They did not re­veal that star wit­ness Tony Gauci, owner of the shop that sold the cloth­ing packed around the bomb, was to get $2 mil­lion (£1.5 mil­lion) for his tes­ti­mony, even though he never once said the buyer was def­i­nitely Me­grahi.

The judges ac­knowl­edged his doubt in their verdict, but, uniquely in a crim­i­nal case where cer­tainty is ev­ery­thing, made a virtue of it.

The state­ments Gauci made that didn’t fit the case were never shared but the judges later ruled on two mat­ters Gauci was 100 per cent re­li­able on: the list of cloth­ing and prices – not know­ing that in an un­seen state­ment he made in 1999

No cred­i­ble ev­i­dence re­mains against Libya for the bomb­ing

I owe it to Flora and the man wrongly blamed to fight for the truth

he had pro­duced a dif­fer­ent list – and that the buyer was Libyan.

The clothes pur­chase was agreed to have oc­curred on novem­ber 23, when Me­grahi was in Malta.

other ev­i­dence, in­clud­ing Gauci’s brother Paul’s state­ment, pointed to de­cem­ber 7. Paul Gauci was not called to give ev­i­dence and re­ceived a $1 mil­lion (£740,000) re­ward. Me­grahi re­ceived a life sen­tence.

The new ap­peal has not heard any of the con­sid­er­able fresh ev­i­dence re­lat­ing to the timer frag­ment.

The Scot­tish Crim­i­nal Cases Re­view Com­mis­sion re­ferred the case back to ap­peal but re­stricted the terms. There is co­pi­ous ev­i­dence the frag­ment could not have been part of the bomb, yet the judges must de­cide if the con­vic­tion is safe with­out hear­ing it.

UK Fam­i­lies Flight 103 has al­ways wanted to know why our loved ones were not pro­tected de­spite the warn­ings, who killed them and why.

our Gov­ern­ment has al­ways re­fused us a pub­lic in­quiry. I am 84 and still hope to see jus­tice done.

It still brings tears to my eyes when I re­mem­ber clear­ing out Flora’s Lon­don flat af­ter her mur­der.

We found an of­fer to com­plete her stud­ies at Cam­bridge, where I was an un­der­grad­u­ate. She would have been sav­ing the news to tell us on Christ­mas day, or on her re­turn from the States. I owe it to my won­der­ful daugh­ter and to the man wrongly blamed for her death to keep fight­ing for the truth.

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