Tam Dalyell, disturbed by apparent official reluctance to pursue lines
of inquiry continues to press for vigorous action
ROBERT Black, professor of Scots Law in the University of Edinburgh
Loading article content
tells us that there is an absolute obligation under Scots Law for the
prosecuting authority in the form of the Crown Office to pursue any lead
that would exculpate or tend to exculpate those who are charged of a
major crime. In the case of the Libyan Two there are fears that this has
The Dumfries and Galloway Police and the Crown Office appear reluctant
to follow up leads which serious people believe solid enough to warrant
Let us begin with the case of Lester Coleman. He may not be the most
important witness to be interviewed but I start with Coleman simply
because he is the subject of current controversy.
In September 1993 he and Don Goddard published a book called The Trail
of the Octopus. In that book a number of very explicit allegations were
made about the connection between a drugs-run from Lebanon through
Cyprus where Coleman was based and the Rhine Main Airport at Frankfurt.
Coleman's critics accuse him of getting out of the United States to
avoid charges of procuring a passport under false pretences. I believe
that the passport charges were trumped up. However what Tam Dalyell
believes or does not believe in this particular context is not of great
importance. The important point is that the Scottish police should have
the opportunity to form their own judgment of Coleman as a witness.
The FBI has said that Coleman asked for a copy of a birth certificate
of a dead person -- Thomas Leavy -- with which to forge a false
passport. When friends of mine approached the relevant authority in New
London, Connecticut, they found that the American officials insisted
that no person of that name was born at the time claimed by the FBI. The
entire case seemed to be trumped up.
Coleman from his various hideouts in Europe has phoned me on many
occasions. I can only form a judgment that he has been a medium-level
agent telling the truth. I would like the Dumfries and Galloway Police
to have the same opportunity of quizzing Coleman but face to face.
Coleman's collaborator was Don Goddard. I know him well. He was for 10
years an associate editor of the New York Times. Goddard is by no
figment of the imagination anti-American. As Coleman's co-author he put
his reputation on the line. The Dumfries and Galloway Police have not
been prepared to talk to him properly in three years.
Again, why haven't they talked properly to the Swiss businessman Edwin
Bollier and his engineer Ulrich Lumpart? The British authorities have
declined even to show the crucial timing device to those who were
responsible for manufacturing that device.
My own suspicion shared by serious people is that the timing device
which the British say that they have was not the timing device that was
involved in that bringing down of the PanAm Clipper Maid of the Seas but
was substituted at a later stage. If Ministers are as sceptical of
Bollier as they told me that they are, how come that they relied on his
evidence when it suited them to do so?
Again the whole case involving the Malta connection depends on the
evidence of the shopkeeper at Mary's Shop in Valetta who sold the
garments which purported to suggest that the bomb was loaded in Malta.
His name was Toni Gauchi. He was interviewed by the Scottish police at
an early stage and has given 18 different accounts of what happened
including identification of a man whose description was 20 years
different from that of either of the accused Libyans.
Moreover the reluctance to talk sensibly to the Libyans has been
total. In 33 years as a member of the House of Commons I have never been
so angry as coming out of a meeting with then Lord Advocate Peter Fraser
when I tried to suggest that Scottish lawyers representing the Crown
Office should at least talk to the Libyans.
Dialogue would have seemed sensible with Arabs who understandably
thought that in the light of the Guildford Four or the Birmingham Six,
the Libyan Two would stand little chance.
I and many others have tried to persuade the Libyans that the Scottish
legal system would in our opinion be fair to them. However one can
understand their perceptions of a country with whom they have no
No effort has been made by the Scottish police to talk seriously to
the film maker Allan Francovich and his colleague John Ashton. Any
reader of The Herald who saw The Maltese Double Cross screened on
Channel 4 must surely conclude that at the very least it needed an
Any investigating authority anxious to get to the truth of who were
the perpetrators of the greatest crimes against Western civilians since
1945 would surely have asked Francovich and Ashton to sit down with
them. That has not happened.
Nor do I think that there has been any attempt to talk properly to the
Rt Hon Paul Channon.
Channon has been my parliamentary colleague for a third of a century
and I have known him well since he was Rab Butler's Parliamentary
Private Secretary. He is not a fool. He is not a liar. He is not a
maker-up of stories. When he was Secretary of State for Transport in
March 1989 he told a group of journalists at the Garrick Club that the
perpetrators of the Lockerbie crime would be identified within a week.
The journalists who reported what Channon had said were very
experienced professionals who certainly on such a topic would have no
misunderstandings whatsoever. Why haven't the police asked Channon on
what he based his statement as Secretary of State?
Above all why have not the police put some very direct questions to
Lady Thatcher? Is it not extraordinary that in 800-pages she mentioned
Lockerbie not once? What she did say was that the much vaunted ''Libyan
terrorist attack'' was never to take place, when she was defending her
indefensible permission to the Americans to launch a raid on Tripoli and
Bengazi from British soil.
The fact of the matter is that Reagan and Bush through Sir Charles Poe
asked Mrs Thatcher to play Lockerbie low-key. The police have a duty to
ask her why she complied with this extraordinary request.
I am conscious that people say to me -- why nag on about something
that happened over six and a half years ago? Of course there is a duty
to the relatives.
But the consequences of Lockerbie drag on. Sanctions are being imposed
against Libya. There is hurt to a people who have been Britain's
traditional friends, most of whose leaders were educated at British
universities. There is the damage to British industries which have lost
their traditional markets (ask the management of Babcocks about the
consequences of the loss of traditional Libyan orders) but above all
there is the ongoing consequences throughout Africa which prompted
Nelson Mandela to write to the British Prime Minister about our attitude