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Getting to the truth about the Lockerbie disaster

YOU are quite right to say that blame for Lockerbie ''should be laid at the door of those who deserve it instead of merely playing out a pointless legal charade'' (December 26).

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Coupled with Ian Bruce's report in the same issue that Iran planned, financed, and ordered the downing of Pan Am 103, your editorial comment gave me an eerie feeling of ''Here we go again''. But let me rewind to December 22 when you reported that Linlithgow's MP, Tam Dalyell, called for the Lord Advocate, Lord Hardie of Blackford, to end his involvement in the Lockerbie bombing case because - allegedly - he had taken part in an ''unsatisfactory'' fatal accident inquiry in Dumfries into the disaster. While I take nothing away from Mr Dalyell's integrity, and his pursuit of the truth, I find his accusations against Lord Hardie, then Andrew Hardie QC, disparaging, to say the least. Lord Hardie can take care of himself - but I wonder if Mr Dalyell is referring to the same member of the Crown team I saw when, as a reporter, I covered the same FAI in Dumfries for 10 weeks. Incidentally, I can't remember seeing Mr Dalyell there. He refers to the then Mr Hardie's ''controversial and certainly aggressive counsel'' at the inquiry. I have re-read my voluminous and almost verbatim notes of the inquiry, and cannot find evidence of what he accuses Lord Hardie of. If he were doing what Mr Dalyell accuses him of then Sheriff John Mowat would have pulled him up. He didn't. My reading of my notes, and my memory, was of a Crown team that was courteous and understanding to every witness. With respect to Mr Dalyell, Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter died in the crash and who speaks for the victims' relatives, and your front-page report, may I suggest that people trying to get to the truth are facing the wrong way? They should forget Israel, Iran, Syria, the PLO, and Libya - all variously blamed over the years. I suggest instead they look towards Langley, Virginia, USA, and the headquarters of the CIA. They should ask questions about two CIA operatives who were on Flight 103 - Major Matt Gannon and his colleague Charles McKee from the agency's Beirut station. They should ask what was in Gannon's luggage - coincidentally stored in baggage holder 4041, in which the bomb exploded. They should ask why, in the aftermath of the crash, when a ban on all but military helicopters was imposed, was an - unmarked - white civilian helicopter able to hop from field to field looking for a specific piece of luggage? And why, when Pan Am was trying to be as unhelpful as possible to the press, were there so many of its ''staff'' in Lockerbie, wearing company baseball hats, who seemed to know little about the company - and less about planes? Please be assured I am not a conspiracy theorist, nor an Internet anorak - just a reporter who seems to be putting the two and two together that others are starting to do as well. Incidentally your paper described Lord Hardie as the junior counsel at the inquiry. He wasn't: the Scottish Office, in a briefing to journalists at the time, described him as ''a senior member of the Scottish Bar''. There have been many questions about Lockerbie in the past nine years. But demanding the the end of Lord Hardie's in- volvement in the case will not answer them.

Philip Mulvey, 19 Athole Gardens, Glasgow. December 26.

I WRITE to express admiration for your recent articles and leaders on Lockerbie (December 22 and 26). These are reasoned articles based on logic and on observation of the astonishing way in which the UK Families-Flight 103 group have been treated by our own Government. They are enormously encouraging to us. You are Scotland's foremost broadsheet, and owe us no more than you owe to all your readers, namely to seek out the truth, publish it, and comment honestly upon it. That process has produced corroboration of the key points which we have had to reinforce time and again. They can be summed up in our claim that we deserve to know the truth and to see justice brought upon the heads of whomever can be identified as having done this to our children. You hint that there may be reasons of State of such consequence that the nuisance value of terrorism has to be tolerated. If that is the case it would have been far better for our rulers to tell us so, or at least hint at it; instead they have been forced to lie in an effort to present a credible alternative scenario. As to the question of a trial of the two Libyans, the two named men cannot possibly be more than foot-soldiers. Even the evidence against them sometimes seems on the verge of collapse, yet still no-one in authority gives the least hint of a genuine will to seek out the originators who planned, ordered, and paid for the atrocity. Perhaps our expenditure of effort on the goal of a trial is seen as a welcome distraction of our energies by those who dare not allow a trial and the risk of a not guilty verdict. Sir Nicholas Bonsor when Minister at the Foreign Office once gave us as a reason against trial in a neutral country, the fear of acquittal - and he had not even been arguing that a court as proposed by Professor Black would be unfair. As for the scandalous censorship of the Maltese Double Cross film, much of the material in that film remains credible. Like many another investigation it pointed the finger at Iran and Syria. Legal action was threatened against Tam Dalyell, MP, to try (unsuccessfully) to stop him showing it in the Palace of Westminster. The Angle Gallery in Birmingham (which first showed it publicly) was first burgled and later fire-bombed. At the last minute the film was banned from the (part publicly funded) London Film Festival - a previously unheard-of turnaround. Most cynical of all were the actions of the Lord Advocate's office. In a joint exercise with the US Embassy in London it issued a statement alleging, among other things, that Juval Aviv, an American investigator with Israeli connections, who had worked on the film, was untrustworthy because he was awaiting trial for fraud. His case came to court later, he was acquitted, and it was concluded that the fraud case had been brought against him maliciously by the FBI, because of his involvement in the Lockerbie case. The motives required to make the office of Scotland's senior law officer act in this way, knowing all the weapons he has available against anyone else rash enough to show signs of contempt of court, must have been powerful indeed. That action deserves investigation. During his time as Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd assured the House, knowing that we were in the gallery, that there was no evidence as to the involvement of any country other than Libya. He is a highly intelligent and honourable man, and I still doubt if he knew that he was wrongly informed at that time, for much of the structures grafted on to the honest work of the Dumfries and Galloway Police has emanated from America. Possibly the biggest chink of all in the official line came from Mrs Thatcher. Her Government told us repeatedly that the Libyans were responsible. Intelligence services, responsible to her as Prime Minister, received multiple, timely, and accurate warnings (some from the Israelis) before Lockerbie. The Department of Trade produced unbelievably incompetent responses to such of those warnings as they did admit receiving. Not one of the warnings was spontaneously revealed; we had to ferret out each one. Yet at the only inquiry (the fatal accident inquiry) which she allowed us (and that was mandatory under Scots law anyway), I was allowed neither to question security at Heathrow Airport, nor to examine her Government's provision for aviation security, nor to raise any questions concerning security. It was she who forbade Lord (then plain Cecil) Parkinson to launch an inquiry into the security failures. During the FAI she escaped from my citation of her to appear as a witness by producing a Speaker's waiver. It is wrong that the person responsible for important services to the public should also have the power to block any meaningful inquiry when those services are alleged to have failed in their duty. There is much else to say about her role. We have seen those who persuade through the use of semtex and armalites welcomed to No10, yet no UK Prime Minister has yet met us, despite repeated requests; only now has Mr Blair said that he will meet us in due course. In The Downing Street Years as Baroness Thatcher she wrote of how President Reagan had claimed that the bombing of Libya (in 1986) had ''brought closer a safer and more secure world for decent men and women'' and she herself wrote of that raid: ''The much vaunted Libyan counter-attack could not and did not take place''. When I wrote to her to ask what she meant, she had, she said, ''nothing to add to the text''. This was not democracy.

Dr Jim Swire, ''UK Families-Flight 103'', Caspidge House, Pikes Pool Lane, Bromsgrove. December 27.

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