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A wise and brave decision

One of the most painful jobs any journalist ever undertakes is ­speaking to and interviewing the loved ones - the mothers and fathers, children and partners - of ordinary men and women who have died in tragedies.

Often, these are tragedies so stark, so inexplicable, that they are seared into the global consciousness of humankind with one word, the location: Lockerbie, Dunblane, Omagh, Hungerford.

The families of the lost are more often than not frozen in time from the moment of their loss. Often, they lose themselves in the shelter of campaigning - fighting for peace in the case of Omagh, for a ban on handguns after Dunblane, a ban on assault weapons after Hungerford, and with Lockerbie, for the simplest of things: the truth about why loved ones died and who killed them.

Dr Jim Swire was the gentle, noble, fatherly face of the ­British Lockerbie families. He lost his daughter Flora when Pan Am 103 was blown out of the sky. For 25 years, he has ceaselessly campaigned for the true facts of the bombing to see the light of day. While a lot has emerged, so much is still locked away from public sight. Today, Jim Swire is stepping back from his fight.

As a human being he has taken a brave and wise step. Grief never dies, but sometimes self-torment must. Swire will never forget his daughter, and her name will live on because of his dedication to her memory, but for this strong and noble man, who is now 77, to eke a little joy from the future, he is right to bid the spotlight goodbye. To ­validate his life, his struggle for Flora and his decision to retire, it must now fall to Britain to do what this man did - seek the truth and bring it to the public eye.

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