Friday, November 14, 2008

Lockerbie - The Heathrow Evidence

"Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides"

            “ As the Kamboj episode showed, there had always been an outside chance that a bag had been smuggled into the container at Heathrow. That possibility aside Orr had effectively ruled out Heathrow within three weeks of the bombing. Much to the relief of British security chiefs, the Met’s Special Branch had long since stopped investigating the Heathrow theory.” 

"On the Trail of Terror" by David Leppard ( 1 )

1.       At 7p.m.on Friday 21st December 2008 the family and friends of some of passengers and crew of flight PA103 and perhaps of some of the eleven residents of Lockerbie who also lost their lives will gather at Heathrow Airport to mark the 20th anniversary of the Lockerbie disaster.

2.        It was from Heathrow Airport that flight PA103 took of at 1835hrs. on Wednesday 21st December 1988 on it’s journey to JFK Airport and presumably it is for that reason that Heathrow Airport has been chosen as a venue for the Service of Remembrance.

3.      There is however another reason why Heathrow is a suitable venue to commemorate the 20th Anniversary for contrary to the version of events advanced by the authorities it was at Heathrow that the bomb that destroyed flight PA103 was introduced.

4.     The official version is that the IED built into a Toshiba bomb-beat radio-cassette incorporating an MST-13 timer was placed within an antique bronze coloured hard-sided Samsonite tourister suitcase also containing a quantity of clothing purchased from a shop in Malta.

5.    This suitcase was smuggled unaccompanied aboard Air Malta flight KM180 at Luqa Airport Malta by unknown means on the morning of the 21st December 1988 and at Frankfurt it was transferred to flight PA103A and flown to Heathrow where the bag was transferred to container AVE4041 which was loaded onto 'The Maid of the Seas' the aircraft used for flight PA103.

The Police Investigation

6.      It was quickly established that a bomb had caused the disaster. Pieces of the bomb damaged aluminium baggage container AVE4041 were identified and recovered. Fragments of a brown hard-sided Samsonite were recovered which due to damage on the inside surface was identified as being the “primary suitcase” containing the IED. An early priority was to try to link the primary suitcase to a specific passenger or to ascertain at what point the suitcase was introduced into the system.

7.       All passengers and crew on board flight PA103 had either started their journey at Heathrow or had transferred from other flights. Passengers who transferred to PA103 at Heathrow from flights from Vienna, Brussels and Cyprus were known as “Interline” passengers. The 41 passengers that had transferred from the Pan Am feeder flight PA103A from Frankfurt were known as “Online” passengers some of whom had “Interlined” from other flights to Frankfurt.

8.       Police enquiries at Heathrow indicated that the luggage container AVE4041 had been loaded at Heathrow firstly with a number of Interline bags then filled with bags from the Frankfurt flight. It contained no luggage from passengers who had started their journey at Heathrow. By deducing the position of the “primary suitcase” within luggage container AVE4041 the Police believed they could deduce how the suitcase had arrived at Heathrow. From the start there was an assumption that the suitcase had been transferred from another flight.

9.        The container had a rectangular base and three walls of the container were at right angles to the base. The fourth wall sloped outwards to fit the curvature of the plane’s fuselage to a point just under half the containers height where there was an aperture the length and height of the container for placing luggage. According to the Air Accident Investigation Report the centre of the explosive event was 10” from the floor of the container 12” from it’s left hand wall and 15” from the front (sloping) wall of the container. The explosion occurred just 25” from the aircraft skin. (This conclusion was questioned at the trial by the evidence of another expert witness) ( 2 ) According to the official version of events the position of the primary suitcase so close to the aircraft’s skin was fortuitous.

10.       The most important witness in the Lockerbie case was a Heathrow baggage handler David Bedford a loader/driver employed by Pan Am. Yet from the start his evidence was discounted or ignored, deemed to be of no relevance at all. On the afternoon of the 21st December 1988 Bedford was working at the Interline Baggage Shed a structure where Interline bags that arrived from other flights were brought and fed into the shed on a conveyor belt that extruded from the building. Here the bags were x-rayed and placed into luggage containers. Bedford had set aside luggage container AVE4041 for flight PA103.

11.     Bedford placed four or five suitcases, upright on their spines to the back of the luggage container then left the area to speak with his supervisor. When he returned he found that somebody had placed two further suitcases flat in front of this row of suitcases. The one on the left was a brown or maroon hard-sided Samsonite. ( 3 )

12.     Bedford spoke to Sulaksh Kamboj an employee of Alert Security who was responsible for x-raying Interline luggage. According to Bedford Kamboj told him that he had placed the two suitcases in the container. When Sulaksh Kamboj was interviewed by the Police he denied having placed the two suitcases in the container and denied having told Bedford that he had. ( 4 )

13.      The Larnaca Interline passengers included four US Government officials. Three, CIA officer Matthew Gannon, Army Major Charles “Tiny” McKee and Ron LaRiviere a SecurityOfficial had travelled from the Lebanon and the fourth Daniel O’Connor was a State Department official posted to the US Embassy in Nicosia.

14.     The luggage of these four men was recovered. None had a bronze or maroon hardsided Samsonite (McKee’s had two grey suitcases one a Samsonite, Gannon’s Samsonite was blue and soft-sided.) Curiously O’Connor’s two bags were never loaded onto PA103 but after the bombing were found in a baggage room at Heathrow.

15.    The container was put aside and later Bedford drove the container to a site known as K-16 where luggage from flight PA103A could fill up the container. Bedford finished work at five p.m thirty minutes before flight PA103A touched down. Luggage had been loaded loose and was unloaded onto a “rocket” and approximately 39 further bags were placed in container AVE4041.

16.       Yet the fact of the mysterious appearance of these two suitcases, one a brown or maroon Samsonite, in the very luggage container in which the explosion occurred in or near the position where the explosion happened, was dismissed by the Police for within three weeks they had “eliminated” Heathrow as the point at which the bomb was introduced. How they had convinced themselves of this remains a mystery partly illuminated by comments made much later by the Chief Investigating Officer Chief Superintendent John Orr.

17.     On the 28th March 1989 Orr addressed the co-ordinating committee of the Lockerbie investigators at the Control Centre in Lockerbie. In reviewing the evidence to date Orr stated that in respect of the loading of AVE 4041-

Evidence from witnesses is to the effect (my emphasis) that the first seven pieces of luggage in the container belonged to Interline passengers and the remainder was Frankfurt luggage.” -

To date 14 pieces of explosive-damaged baggage have been recovered and enquiries to date suggest that on the balance of probabilities (LICC italics) the explosive device is likely to be amongst the Frankfurt baggage items. Of all the currently identified explosion-damaged luggage all but one item originated from Frankfurt.” ( 5 ).     (It transpired that several of the Interline bags had been damaged by the explosion).

18.        Orr had conflated the two further suitcases with the 4-5 bags placed by Bedford. While these bags could not have come from Frankfurt there was no evidence that the two further bags were “Interline” bags save they had been introduced at the Interline baggage shed. Evidence from witnesses was not “to the effect” they were Interline bags.     Evidence from witnesses was that somebody had placed a brown Samsonite within container AVE4041 and that it was never properly established who had done this or whose bag this was.

The Indian Head Forensic Tests

19.      Three weeks after Orr had expressed his conclusion that the two mystery suitcases were Interline bags a series of five forensic tests were conducted at the Indian Head Naval facility in Maryland which confirmed his conclusions and the decision to "eliminate" Heathrow.

20.      Using IEDs built for the purpose the tests, supervised by Tom Thurman of the FBI and Alan Feraday of RARDE, were to deduce the amount of explosive used in the IED and the position of primary suitcase within container AVE4041. In the closest approximation a suitcase containing the IED was placed flat on top of another hard-sided suitcase (also placed flat) at the front left of the luggage container. The centre of the explosion was just 10½” from the floor and was right at the front of the container only 20” from the fuselage.

21.     Due to the absence of “pitting”, the absence of material blasted into the floor of the real container AVE4041 and in the test, it was deduced that the primary suitcase was not on the bottom layer of luggage. As the bags loaded by Bedford and the two “extra” bags were in contact with the floor it was deduced that the “primary suitcase” must have arrived on the feeder flight PA103A.

“Autumn Leaves

22.      The Police were initially convinced that the Lockerbie case was related to the activities of a cell of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC) who had been based in the city of Neuss close to Frankfurt. The cell was arrested on Wednesday 26th October 1988. Four IEDs were eventually recovered one of which was concealed within a Toshiba radio cassette player. It is possible that a fifth device was not recovered.

23.      These IED’s incorporated barometric triggers and were designed to explode at altitude. The Scottish Police were stunned to learn that the cell’s bomb-maker Marwan Khreesat had been released soon after his arrest by the examining Magistrate. Khreesat was their prime suspect and the conclusion that the bomb had arrived unaccompanied from Frankfurt may have been influenced by this. What the Scots did not know at the time was that Khreesat was a CIA “asset”.(6)

24.      The first eight months of the investigation was taken up by an increasingly acrimonious dispute between the investigators and the German authorities which was resolved only in August 1989 with the production of evidence, that the Germans had supposedly had for months indicating that a “rogue suitcase” had been transferred from a flight from Malta to the feeder flight PA103A at Frankfurt.

25.     Essentially this was a forensic argument, the Germans arguing that if the IED that destroyed PA103 was built by Khreesat then it must have been introduced at Heathrow. The Scots spent a great deal attempting to refute the argument but stubbornly dismissed the possibility that a “Khreesat” bomb had been introduced at Heathrow.

Addendum April 2015

       According to Leppard in May 1989 the German BKA commissioned a report from its forensic section to demonstrate that the RARDE theory of the time (that a bomb incorporating a barometric trigger had been introduced at Frankfurt) was untenable, or at least extremely unlikely as it would have exploded on the Frankfurt-Heathrow leg.   Rather than consider the points made objectively the Police commissioned a report by RARDE (presumably composed by Dr Hayes and Mr Feraday) to research a response, or more accurately a rebuttal.   This argued that the data on which the Germans had made their argument was inadequate and that 25% of all IED's fail to operate as planned. (The IED that destroyed PA103 seemed to work OK.)   Of course the conclusion of the Scottish Police that the primary suitcase must have arrived from Frankfurt was nothing more than conjecture.

       It transpired that on the 12th May 1989 RARDE scientists had supposedly discovered the two key exhibits that made the possibility that the primary suitcase was introduced at an Airport other that Heathrow feasible.    These were the fragment of circuit board PT/35(b) that "proved" the bomb was not detonated by a barometric switch and a clump of five tiny sheets of paper identified as part of an owners manual for a twin-speaker Toshiba radio-cassette (which Khreesat later denied having ever used for one of his aviation bombs.)

       However as demonstrated in my article "Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil"  Dr Hayes note of the discovery of these items (which Mr Feraday gave evidence that had witnessed) was manifestly fraudulent and could not legitimately have been written before the 22nd May 1989.  When it was actually written is not known.    There is no credible evidence that these two items were actually discovered as claimed and the evidence that makes the claim that the bomb arrived on PA103A from Frankfurt possible may have been completely fabricated. 

Return to Original Article

26.      In the 1996 House of Commons adjournment debate Prime Minister John Major stated that the Lockerbie investigation was “open” and invited those with relevant information to “come forward”. ( 7 ) The claim was astonishing as four years earlier his Government had demanded in advance of a trial that Libya accept full responsibility for the bombing and had taken the lead in imposing sanctions.

27.       The author tested this claim by writing to the Prime Minister pointing out the Police had made a colossal blunder in “eliminating” Heathrow. He received a reply from an official of the Transport Security Branch of the Department of Transport drawing his attention to the conclusions of the Fatal Accident Enquiry firstly that the primary suitcase had arrived unaccompanied on flight PA103A from Frankfurt and secondly that the suitcase arrived at Frankfurt on an airline other than Pan Am. The letter also stated that “contrary to what you say, the Police investigation remains open”. ( 8 ) 

(While this letter suggested I write to the Scottish Crown Office to find out on what evidence the Fatal Accident Inquiry had come to it's conclusion I was quite aware of the evidence on which it had come to this conclusion.   None whatsoever.  Not a shred.   The FAI had accepted without question the submission of the Lord Advocate's Deputy (and successor) that the primary suitcase had arrived at Heathrow on flight PA103A from Frankfurt a "fact" of which he had no personal knowledge and which was presumably repeating the cod logic of John Orr.   While I was aware of this it was rather disturbing that the Transport Security Division of the Department of Transport, responsible for security at Heathrow Airport, were apparently quite ignorant of this!) 

28.     By supposedly reconstructing the contents of AVE4041 the Police purported to not only be able to distinguish between the position within the container of bags Interlined and Onlined at Heathrow but between bags that had begun their journey at Frankfurt and those Interlined there. (i.e.those that had arrived at Frankfurt on feeder flights).

29.       According to Leppard “the LICC had concluded after a detailed reconstruction of the contents of the luggage pallet that the bomb bag must have come from an Interlined flight because it was amongst the bags on the second and third level which had been Interlined into Frankfurt”. (the forensic tests had indicated the centre of explosive event was 10.5” from the floor of the container!)
There was of course not a shred of evidence that it was - this was just wishful thinking!

30.      Leppard continued “this was the basis for a statement at the fatal accident inquiry by Lord Frasier’s deputy, Andrew Hardie QC, that the bomb bag had arrived at Heathrow on the feeder flight from Frankfurt. Hardie explained this did not mean that the bag had originated from Frankfurt.  ( 9 )

31.    The conclusions of the Fatal Accident Inquiry set the stage for the announcement of the indictments nine months later. While it is assumed the object of the Indictment was to bring about a trial there is considerable evidence the real objective was the imposition of UN Sanctions and a trial was the last thing the Western powers wanted..

Camp Zeist and The Judgement

32.     Both David Bedford and Sulaksh Kamboj gave evidence at Camp Zeist concerning what had transpired 12 years before. The discrepancy between their accounts was still not resolved although their Lordships favoured Bedford’s account. However this discrepancy was found to be of no importance for their Lordships accepted the official version of events that the primary suitcase had been introduced in Malta and transferred to PA103A at Frankfurt. As the two suitcases had appeared in AVE4041 prior to PA103' arrival Bedford’s evidence was of no relevance as the Police had concluded twelve years earlier. (3)&(4)

33.     As their Lordships had supposedly discounted the evidence of the defector Majid Giaka they confessed they did not know how the bomb was introduced at Malta. (11) However having found the case against the defendant Megrahi convincing in other respects, and as Megrahi had flown to Malta on the 20th December 1988 using a false identity and had left Malta on the morning of the 21st December 1988 they concluded that this visit must have been related to smuggling the primary suitcase aboard flight KM180 rather than some other nefarious purpose.

34.     In their summing-up the defence made a telling point concerning Bedford’s evidence. According to the official scenario if the “Bedford Samsonite” was not the primary suitcase then it must have been in extremely close proximity to it. However as no bomb-damaged brown Samsonite was recovered, (or indeed any such Interline bag) save for the primary suitcase itself, then this must have been the primary suitcase.

35.     In their Judgement their Lordships got around this difficulty by speculating that the contents of luggage container AVE4041 may or must have been re-arranged when the further bags from PA103A were added and the “Bedford Samsonite” was moved far away from the point of the explosion “to some far corner of the container”. (12) In making such a claim their Lordships completely undermined the theory on which Heathrow had been “eliminated” and indeed the basis on which their fellow Judge Lord Hardie had given evidence to the Fatal Accident Inquiry.

This is a Private Eye story of 2001 summarising f Bill Taylor's closing submissions at Camp Zeist.    It is quite remarkable in that Private Eye, who to their credit had kept the Lockerbie issue alive, actually published a Lockerbie story that was true! 


“A disturbing theme emerged from the closing submission of Bill Taylor QC, counsel for one of the Libyans accused of murdering 270 people in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

Mr Taylor had already made much of the failure of the prosecution to establish the central point of its case: that the suitcase with the bomb  was put on a plane I Malta.  In his final speech, however,  he argued that the bomb was put on the doomed flight at London's Heathrow. 

 He argued the case systematically, making 20 separate points and pointing out that a terrorist who wanted to destroy the plane was more likely to put it on its final flight for New York rather than on feeder flights from Frankfurt or Malta.

He could prove easily that security at Heathrow in December 1988 was abysmal.   There were at least three places from where a suitcase could be smuggled on to the Pan Am flight without being picked up by airline staff.  The container with baggage for the flight was left completely unattended for three quarters of an hour.

Mr Taylor's most powerful point was his third namely that  “a brown Samsonite was introduced into that part of the container at the interline area at Heathrow airport.” This was highly relevant since everyone agreed that the bomb that destroyed the plane had been packed in a brown Samsonite case.   Mr Taylor's main evidence came from John Bedford, a baggage loader at Heathrow airport, who was interviewed soon after the bombing.  He then gave evidence at the initial fatal accident inquiry in 1991, which was referred to extensively by Mr Taylor.   He was asked:

Q: Can you recall whether on 21 December 1988 any of the luggage that you dealt with any of the luggage that you dealt with or saw at the interline shed destined for Pan-am 103 was a bronze Samsonite case?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Did you see a bronze Samsonite case?

A: A maroony-brown Samsonite case, yes.

 Mr Taylor went on to deal in detail with the complicated evidence about the position of the loaded bags in the plane.  He concluded that the Samsonite case had been loaded into the plane in almost exactly the position occupied by the suitcase from which the bomb eventually exploded.  Mr Taylor also established that there was no other Samsonite bag in the plane.      (This claim is untrue – there were other Samsonites on the plane and in container AVE4041.  No  hardshell bronze Samsonite, other than the primary suitcase, was recovered)  Mr Bedford was called by the crown as a reliable witness.   There seemed no reason why he should invent the story of the mysterious Samsonite case which appeared as though of magic in the container of luggage for flight 103.

If the case with the bomb did go on the plane at Heathrow, the consequences for those in charge of the airport at the time are very severe.  But what is beyond dispute is that if anyone did put a bag with a bomb on the plane at Heathrow  it could not have been either of the two defendants."



36.     John Orr’s supposition that the two bags seen by Bedford were “Interline” bags, the forensic tests that purported to eliminate these bags, the speculation that these bags had been re-arranged was essentially irrelevant. Indeed the attempt to identify the origin of the primary suitcase from identifying the bags around it was deeply flawed as it assumed the primary suitcase was introduced into the system at the same point as the surrounding bags.  The primary suitcase was neither an Interline nor Online bag.

37.      There was only one way to properly identify and eliminate the brown/maroon Samsonite seen by Bedford and that was to recover it, examine it’s contents and link it to a particular passenger. If Chief Superintendent John Orr believed the Samsonite seen by Bedford was an Interline bag then it should have been recovered and linked to a specific Interline passenger.

38.        The logic is irrefutable. If the Samsonite suitcase seen in container AVE4041 was not otherwise recovered then it must have been the primary suitcase. As it was seen long before the arrival of flight PA103A then the official scenario (on which Megrahi was convicted) must be untrue.

( 1 ) David Leppard On the Trail of Terror page 145 Jonathan Cape
(2) Evidence of Christopher Protheroe at Camp Zeist (25th May 2000)

(3) Evidence of David Bedford at Camp/Zeist para.23-25 of
Judgement / Leppard page 137

(4) Evidence of Sulaksh Kamboj at Camp Zeist/para 23-25 of
Judgement/ Leppard page 137

(5) Lockerbie Incident control Centre memo 28th March 1989 quoted from Leppard page 100

(6) Evidence at Camp Zeist of FBI agent Hal Hendershot

(7) Hansard 17th May 1996

(8) Letter of the 5thh June 1996 from DoT Transport Security Branch Ref:AVI 4/2/20

(9) Leppard page 205

(10) Lockerbie and Libya a Study in International Relations Khalil I.Matar and Robert W.Thabit McFarland and Company Inc. 2004 page 9

(11) Judgement para.75

(12) Judgement para.25


baz said...


Patrick Haseldine said...

"In the 1996 House of Commons adjournment debate Prime Minister John Major stated that the Lockerbie investigation was 'open' and invited those with relevant information to 'come forward'. ( 7 ) The claim was astonishing as four years earlier his Government had demanded in advance of a trial that Libya accept full responsibility for the bombing and had taken the lead in imposing sanctions.

The author tested this claim by writing to the Prime Minister pointing out the Police may have made a colossal blunder in 'eliminating' Heathrow. He received a reply from an official of the Transport Security Branch of the Department of Transport drawing his attention to the conclusions of the Fatal Accident Enquiry firstly that the primary suitcase had arrived unaccompanied on flight PA103A from Frankfurt and secondly that the suitcase arrived at Frankfurt on an airline other than Pan Am. The letter also stated that 'contrary to what you say, the Police investigation remains open'. ( 8 )"

You might be interested to know that, in October 1995, Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Hanley made an identical response to my MP Eric Pickles when I put forward my theory that apartheid South Africa was responsible for the Lockerbie bombing: "The Lockerbie investigation remains open and those with relevant information should present it to the prosecuting authorities."

baz said...

This is precisely what you should expect. the claim the investigation is "open" is politician-speak. Clearly it wasn't when the Lord Advocate had given evidence on oath (probably based on a nod and a wink from the spooks)of a false version of events.

Caustic Logic said...

Pretty good post, mate. I found the Orr quotes helpful, and some other bits I'll be following the links on.

I'm inclined to accept both the cut padlock story and Bedford's as illustrating what happened. (you didn't cover the cut lock here, did you?) but here's a thought - has it occurred to you that, for example, Bedford placed the bag himself, for some bribe, and later felt compelled to sort of blame Kamboj? Words are fragile things, especially exposed to intense pressure like that would cause.

Mr. Hasldine's comment here is also useful. I enjoy useful things. :)

baz said...

I didn't cover the cut padlock because I wasn't sure if Orr was aware of it. I do not know its significance but (a) somebody cut the padlock (b) as one would need a bolt-cutter I infer that this was premediatated.

Who really put the bags in AVE4041? The evidence is the evidence. The central point I am making is that there was compelling evidence the bomb was introduced at Heathrow, evidence that was not properly investigated.
The reasons for this are complex.

Rolfe said...

Passengers who transferred to PA103 at Heathrow from flights from Vienna, Brussels and Cyprus were known as “Interline” passengers. [....]

Bedford placed four or five suitcases, upright on their spines to the back of the luggage container then left the area to speak with his supervisor. When he returned he found that somebody had placed two further suitcases flat in front of this row of suitcases. The one on the left was a brown or maroon hard-sided Samsonite. [....]

The Larnaca Interline passengers included four US Government officials. Three, CIA officer Matthew Gannon, Army Major Charles “Tiny” McKee and Ron LaRiviere a Security Official had travelled from the Lebanon and the fourth Daniel O’Connor was a State Department official posted to the US Embassy in Nicosia.

The luggage of these four men was recovered. [....] None had a bronze or maroon hardsided Samsonite (McKee’s had two grey suitcases one a Samsonite, Gannon’s Samsonite was blue and soft-sided.) Curiously O’Connor’s two bags were never loaded onto PA103 but after the bombing was found in a baggage room at Heathrow.

Baz, where are you getting all this? Especially the part about O'Connor's suitcases?

So. McKee, two cases; Gannon, one; LaRiviere, presumably at least one. That comes to "four or five cases" as far as I can see. Were these the cases Bedford put in AVE4041?

You mention interline passengers from Vienna and Brussels as well as Cyprus. But Bedford only placed four or five suitcases. So, some of the interline luggage must have gone in another container, I presume.

Do we know if the AVE4041 interline luggage was from the Larnaca flight, or one of the others? If it was from the Larnaca flight, that rather implies that everything Bedford placed was actually CIA personnel baggage. Hmmmm.

But then, you say O'Connor's luggage was accidentally left behind, although it should have been with the others. In AVE4041, possibly? So, two suitcases missing from that position, left behind - and two mysterious suitcases materialising in the container instead.

Can you elaborate on this?

baz said...

Where am I getting this from? The article is referenced and I am relying a great deal on david Leppard's 1991 book "On the Trail of Terror". As Leppard has no objection to the official version of events or, as he claims he was merely documenting the course of the investigation I found him a pretty reliable source.

baz said...

If you want to research the Interline baggage I suggest what you need most is a chronological list of flight arrivals. We know for example that Mr Carllson's bag had been at Heathrow since the morning. "Vienna" poses a partcular problem as there wa an Interline connection to PA103A at Frankfurt from Vienna.

I cannot elaborate on O'Connor's suitcases not be loaded or guess if this is related to the appearance of the two "extra" suitcases. It is 22 years later.
The problem is that this detail was regarded as completely irrelevant to the investigation. If the primary suitcase came on PA103A from frankfurt then nothing that happened at Heathrow mattered. It is however for this reason that I accept Leppard's claim that the first luggage in AVE4041 was from Larnaca, Brussels and Vienna - he didn't think it mattered in the slightest who this luggage belonged to.

I do not agree that this luggage belonged to CIA personnel but one bag may have. My personal hunch or suspicion is that the arrival of this luggage was a signal for the introduction of the IED.

Rolfe said...

Baz, in very belated reply to your comment of June 2010. You said, get a chronological list of flight arrivals. OK, I did, and rather a lot more.

See here.

The Bedford suitcase was the bomb. The prosecution realised at least by the time of the trial, and then sought to prevent anyone else realising it by very selective leading of evidence.

Have a read and tell me what you think.

baz said...

This was a very good article by Morag Kerr and I found the schedule of Interline baggage very useful. For example in Rolfe's comment of the 4th June she suggested Ron LaRiviere had at least one suitcase. In fact he had none.

So we have three bags between the four US Officials on the Larnaca flight Carllson's bag and two from the Vienna flight so a total of six.(None of which were similar to a broawn hardsided Samsonite). Orr falsely claimed evidence from witnesses was "to the effect" that the first 7-8 bags were Interline bags.

I do prefer my own article (in particular the conclusion). The major weakness with Rolfe's article is that she does not explain why the authorities deduced that the "bomb" suitcase could not have been in contact with the floor of AVE4041 (the dubious Indian Head tests.)

As far as I am aware the Interline baggage did not come into the Interline baggage shed on a Carousel but a conveyor belt and she refers to the Interline bags as "Heathrow origin items" which is a bit confusing. To me Heathrow origin items belong to passengers who began their journey at Heathrow.

Rolfe refers to the Bedford Samsonite as being "unmatched to any legitimate luggage". The crucial point is that it was eliminated in theory but not in reality by recovering it and linking it to a particular Interline passenger. As Ms Kerr's article corroborates there was no such passenger.

Ms kerr's conclusion is that the prosecution by a selective use of witnesses hoodwinked the defence. However at paragraph 7 she writes "almost until 2000 almost nobody interested in the Lockerbie affair had even heard of Bedford."

Well I was interested in Lockerbie and had heard of John Bedford through reading David Leppard's "On the Trail of Terror" and the curious story of how (a) a brown samsonite mysteriously appeared in AVE4041 (b) the person who told Bedford he put it there denied it later (after the plane exploded) and (c) how this crucial evidence was dismissed.

Ms Kerr covers the FAI very well with some good insight into why Sherriff Moffat came to a definitive conclusion that the primary suitcase arrived on PA103A on a nod and a wink without looking into the actual evidence. I think it is significant that the submission was made by the Lord advocate's Deputy and Successor and committed his successors to upholding the big lie of the Lockerbie case.

Was I the only person to read this book or to realise there was something very wrong in the "elimination" of the Bedford samsonite? Apparently yes. Even Leppard didn't get it!

I certainly didn't keep this insight to myself. I tried to publicise it through the press (Paul Foot wasn't interested) Dr Swire, Professor Black even my mate John Ashton (who even after the Zeist Trial was peddling the drug conspiracy hoax claiming the bomb was introduced at Frankfurt corroborating the official "big lie".

I met Stephen Mitchell in 1993 and wrote several times to Alisdair Duff without getting anything more than an acknowledgement.

Rolfe thinks I am bitter and angry. She is right. The tradgedy of Lockerbie is that the alternative to the official version of events has been the domain of charlatans, fabricators and dimwits.

If Rolfe would like copies of replies I received from the DoT's rom the Aviation Security Branch, the Legal Attache at the US Embassy, The Metropolitan Police the Crown Office and Dumfries & Galloway Police (if she hasn't already got them) give me an e-mail address.

Rolfe said...

Didn't Orr say seven items? The number quoted in the FAI findings was 6 or 7. I don't quite know how they came to that number. The number of cases belonging to actual passengers was definitely six without any doubt at all. The only other possible legitimate bag in that container is Hubbard's misdirected one, but according to the German cops, the Scottish cops were adamant that flew on the feeder flight too (and they were almost certainly right about that).

The system of getting the interline bags into the shed was basically a carousel. Whyte's off-loaded them on to the conveyor outside the shed, and the conveyor took them inside and on to the carousel. They went round and round until they were pulled off by an employee of the airline they were flying on.

The point about the authorities deciding the bomb suitcase wasn't on the floor is quite complex, and about more than Indian Head. There was Cullis's evidence about the dents in the floor showing another suitcase underneath the bomb, and Claiden made the height estimate of 10 inches I think. Plus all that Mach Stem stuff that Keen demolished. I think the saga of just who said what about the position of the bomb suitcase would make another article on its own, were the full story known.

The story as I'm getting it seems to be of a balance of probabilities, just as you said yourself. Even at Zeist, the judges said, "it was accepted for the purposes of this argument" that the bomb was on the second layer - not that it was something that had been definitely proven.

That is really extremely peculiar. The explosion was SO close to the junction between the Heathrow and Frankfurt layers, that it was actually impossible to be certain one way or another. They had evidence of a very suspicious suitcase on the bottom layer at a time when they didn't even have any baggage records from Frankfurt. And yet they seem awfully keen to have the forensics say, second layer. Why?

Then, when the best the forensics can manage is "probably second layer", they use that as justification for eliminating the lower case completely? That's nuts. Even if it was only a 10% chance it was the lower case, they should have been following it up as a promising lead.

Nobody even asked Kamboj and Parmar where they were when Bedford was on his break, or what they were doing, or if they had the container under constant surveillance, or if anyone could have walked up to it, or if they saw anyone hanging around even. It's senseless.

Rolfe said...

When discussing AVE4041, I would understand "Heathrow origin items" to mean the stuff that was already in the container when Sidhu drove it out on to the tarmac. Can't say "Heathrow interine luggage" without falling into the same trap as Orr.

The crucial point is that the Bedford case, whether or not it was brown, or a hardshell, or a Samsonite, could not possibly have been anything innocent loaded at Heathrow, either passenger or lost or redirected luggage.

The blast-damaged suitcase debris brought in as a priority by the search teams represented everything that was in that corner of the container, pretty much put through a blender. Plenty bits of even the most badly damaged cases were found. It is simply not possible there was another item right in the middle of that explosion, and its fragments magically separated themselves out from the rest and vanished. The blast-damaged luggage was, the six legitimate Heathrow interline items, a bunch of Frankfurt items, and the bomb bag.

None of the six legitimate items was damaged in the way it would have been if it had been under the bomb bag. There wasn't another case in the mix that could have been loaded at Heathrow - except the bomb bag. The other damaged items were all Frankfurt luggage.

Once you know the original Heathrow-loaded items were not moved when the Frankfurt luggage was added, it all becomes clear.

Now, about your credits. What is it about the word "almost" you find hard to understand? There's a reason that word is there and it is called Baz. Did you actually miss the bit where you are named and this blog page linked as being the only example of someone working it out before the trial? I think you were the only person to read the book before the trial and figure it out. You were right. You were completely, totally and absolutely right. Take a bow.

I don't remember calling you bitter and angry, though maybe I did at some point, you do come across a bit miffed.

I believe you about the brush-off replies. I'll soon be able to match you page for page. What I really, really want is a time-line of the thinking and the evidence about the position of the explosion and the probability with which the lower case was excluded.

Something stinks here, and I think it just might be called Orr.

I don't know how to give you an email address without posting it publicly, which is not going to happen.

baz said...

"Did Orr say seven items"?
Yes, I said so in my article (above)referenced to Leppard page 100.

I was not aware there was a carousel within the Interline baggage shed. Was the luggage x-rayed before or after being placed on the Carousel?

What is often overlooked is that Pan-Am's co-defendants in the Civil liability trial were Alert Security and therefore they had no interest in the truth instead sponsoring Aviv Juval's Interfor hoax.

What I am saying about "Indian Head" is that evidence was created to support a decision made several months earlier. The import of Rolfe's conclusion that the Bedford suitcase contained the bomb was that the crime occurred in England. The decision to eliminate Heathrow was essentially a political decision.

To me "Heathrow origin items" means luggage belonging to those passengers who began their journey at Heathrow of which there was none in AVE4041 so, to avoid confusion, I personally prefer the more accurate term "Interline baggage".

No I appreciate the acknowledgement and plug. Of course in 1996 (before the detailed revelation of the prosecution case) there was a lot less information in the public domain (most of it fraudulent!) The problem in trying to publicise the "Heathrow origin" is that Leppard's book was just that a book. The authorities (Crown Office ect.) had their evidence (Giaka ect.) which turned out to be pretty flimsy. At the time I wrote to the Crown Office they thought (or pretended to think) the late Majid Giaka was golden. Leppard's story actually turned out to be substantially accurate.

I must stress my original interest was not in Lockerbie at all but the Spiro murders a(which led me to Lockerbie) and regret ever having read "On the Trail of Terror"!

No you did not call me bitter and angry. What you actually wrote in the thread "Dave's Disgrace" on the Lockerbiecase blogspot (May 12th 2012) was

"bitter, or what? Twisted even"

after I commented on the remarkable fact that not one but two of Megrahi's defence teams had employed as a researcher a dimwit who had made his career from peddling a hoax, and continues in his recent book to peddle the same hoax!

While I am critical of officialdom I think some purported supporters of the late Mr Megrahi bear a great deal of responsibility for what transpired.

John Ashton made a submissionto the SCCRC affording them opportunity to demolish his straw men. (Must have been like shooting fish!) I didn't make a submission as nobody asked me to and indeed the SCRRC didn't even address the central issue of where the primary suitcase was introduced.

If you want a timeline about the thinking by which the "lower case" was excluded what is wrong with Leppard which is "The Inside Story of the Lockerbie Investigation" and to me a priceless record of where it went wrong?

Anyway we seem to agree completely that the primary suitcase was introduced at Heathrow the slight difference being I worked it out 5 years before the trial.

My dedicated "Lockerbie" e-mail address is displayed on this blog. I did send the copies of the most important documents to QR and thought you may have seen them. I thought the letter from the Met to Sir Teddy stating that my allegation was disproven "beyond doubt" was of particular interest.

I do have some ideas as to what actually transpired but it is not stuff I would like to put in the public domain. Suffice to say there may be some truth to the "drug conspiracy" theory. They just got the wrong airport!

Regards Baz

Rolfe said...

Yes, I thought so (about the seven items) - it was just that you said seven or eight in your most recent post.

In the interline shed the conveyor took the luggage from outside (where Whyte's deposited it) to the inside and dumped it on the carousel. It circulated there just like a baggage reclaim hall until someone took it off. It was the job of each airline's staff to spot and retrieve luggage intended for one if its flights.

Most of the Pan Am/Alert staff agreed that it was the x-ray operators who pulled the luggage off the carousel and x-rayed it. If it was OK they put a security sticker on it and left it by the x-ray machine. Kamboj seems to imply that it was the baggage handler's job to pull the cases off the carousel, and he says "security band round". Oddly, Bedford was never asked if he saw a security sticker (or band, whatever) on either of the two late-arriving items. It was the baggage handler's job to sort the luggage according to which flight it was due to go on, and load it into the containers.

Bizarrely, there's no sign that anyone ever asked Kamboj or Parmar where they were while Bedford was away, or what they were doing, or if they had the container in sight, or if anyone could have gone up to it, or if they saw any stranger hanging around. Or not that I can see anyway. They weren't exactly busy. Six suitcases in what, three hours, between the two of them? What were they doing? Cards? Were they even awake? They were working very long shifts.

FAI? Well, Pan Am and Alert were all the same outfit anyway. There was absolutely no percentage for them in pointing out that the bomb had been snuck into a container at Heathrow right under the noses of their staff, even if they spotted it. It's ironic they were held culpable for a modus operandi that didn't happen. Too bad for Kurt Maier.

You can call these cases "interline luggage" all you like, but that is misleading. Six of the AVE4041 Heathrow-origin items were interline luggage. The seventh wasn't. It's the same error as Orr made.

Leppard's book is quite fascinating. He was obviously getting stuff from an inside source, but it shows signs of hurried writing and editing. Look at the bit about O'Connor's luggage - plural turns into singular in the middle of the sentence. I think he made a correction and botched it. (O'Connor only had one case, and it was left behind, but another case was left behind with it, which may explain confusion.) Look at the end, where he credits Hayes with identifying PT/35b, when it was Thurman who did that. It's sloppy journalism. Some bits are absolutely kosher, straight from the horse's mouth, and then other bits are his assumptions and sometimes dodgy. The trick is figuring out which is which.

Bear in mind Bedford first surfaced in October 1990 in the witness box at the FAI. This was before Leppard's book, but possibly while it was being written. Did Leppard go to the FAI? There's no mention of it if he did. Where did the bits about Bedford and Kamboj come from, then? Because as far as I can see, the investigation team didn't generally know about that in 1989. They knew about the arrangement of the luggage, but not what Bedford said about the front two items.

I have a feeling Leppard himself couldn't quite figure out how they had excluded that suitcase for sure, and in particular why it wasn't being followed up even before the Indian Head results were available. That bit about Orr excluding Heathrow within three weeks seems to have Leppard's own "but what about that Bedford suitcase?" hovering over it, but he just notes the paradox and moves on.

Sorry for the swipe at you, but I don't really see the point of continually accusing everyone who fell for the Frankfurt origin theory of being a fraudster. People can me sincerely wrong, you know. Juval Aviv, now....

Rolfe said...

Anyway we seem to agree completely that the primary suitcase was introduced at Heathrow the slight difference being I worked it out 5 years before the trial.

Good for you. As I said, you were right. Of course, after the trial it was kind of obvious to everyone. (Except the judges of course.) Did you really tell Paul Foot in 1996? Oops. Well, if it's any consolation, everybody agrees with you now. I only started looking at this in 2009 so I had a bit of a leg-up.

Have you figured out about Sidhu's evidence, though? I mean, it was obvious enough, but there was an element of uncertainty that allowed the judges to turn a blind eye to the bleedin obvious. If it's important whether (and how) that luggage was rearranged, why not call the man who rearranged it? Or not, as the case may be.

Once you know about Sidhu's evidence and have the correct schedule of the Heathrow interline luggage, the Bedford bag is elevated from "well of course it's obvious" to mathematical certainty. Do I have to explain it better?

Rolfe said...

What I am saying about "Indian Head" is that evidence was created to support a decision made several months earlier. The import of Rolfe's conclusion that the Bedford suitcase contained the bomb was that the crime occurred in England. The decision to eliminate Heathrow was essentially a political decision. [....]

If you want a timeline about the thinking by which the "lower case" was excluded what is wrong with Leppard which is "The Inside Story of the Lockerbie Investigation" and to me a priceless record of where it went wrong?

The trouble with that is that by the time it came to the trial it wasn't just Indian Head. It was Cullis and his Mystic-Meg-style reading of the bumps on the container floor. It was Claiden with some other piece of surmise. They were lining up to say it was the second layer, none of them really showing clear proof but all offering the same opinion. Where and when did that all come from?

So here's the thing. The minute they know it's container AVE4041, the one that had no Heathrow check-in luggage in it, Orr issues a press release saying the bomb came in on the feeder flight. I think it's possible he didn't know about the six (or seven) cases loaded in the interline shed until later. Even so, it's a helluva previous thing to announce, on 30th December for God's sake.

It's as if he never looked back. He'd made that decision and he was sticking to it. Stubbornness? Conviction that if a Frankfurt gang had done it they would inevitably have used Frankfurt airport? Determination not to drop BAA in it whatever happened? Any other suggestions?

The earliest indication of where the explosion was is the BKA sketch dated 7th January. As it's neatly drawn and typed, that puts it at 6th January or even earlier. I don't know who made that estimate, or how the BKA got it. If it was Scottish information passed to the BKA I've never seen the original. I don't know if the BKA had personnel of their own at Lockerbie at the time who might have formed their own conclusion. The position of the bang is BANG ON where Bedford saw that suitcase. Three days before he said it was a brown Samsonite.

Interestingly, the accompanying text doesn't seem to know about the two cases at the front. The text says that there was a row of five or six cases along the back, and everything else must have been Frankfurt stuff. The explosion was at the front. So looks like it was one of our suitcases, chaps, dammit.

Then about ten days later Hayes is saying that the explosion was 18 inches from the floor of the container. I wonder why the height suddenly rose by about a foot in that time? It was all guesswork at that early stage though, and it would have been insane to rule out Bedford's suitcase on that basis - even if it was one he'd loaded himself from the x-ray machine and thought it was sky-blue pink.

Orr found out about the Heathrow break-in at the beginning of February. Manly's statement was entered into HOLMES on 2nd February. This doesn't seem to have changed his mind either, though. The statement seems to have been filed in a black hole.

Indian Head wasn't till April. Well before April they knew that the explosion was in the bottom front left-hand corner of the container, that the bomb had been in a brown Samsonite hardshell, and that a brown Samsonite hardshell had appeared in mysterious circumstances in exactly that corner, in the interline shed. They also knew about the break-in.

Rolfe said...

Why is there no investigation at that point? Why aren't we seeing a bunch of excited detectives hot on the chase? Even if they have to be called off later if the explosion is confirmed to be too high, or the mysterious case is matched to a passenger, someone should have been following that up. Nobody was. And as the evidence mounted, such as the case never being matched to a passenger and no other legitimate Heathrow-origin luggage being found severely blast-damaged, they still didn't waver.

Then Indian Head doesn't seem conclusive at all to me, but hey, probably is good enough, that's fine.

According to Leppard, the BKA came back at them the following month, after they'd buried Sonntag and got Ettinger his disability pension I suppose, and said, Khreesat device had to be loaded at Heathrow. So Feraday the forensics genius thinks up a few reasons why maybe that's not completely watertight, and on the basis of that, tells the BKA to f-off.

The internal memos suggest that almost none of the detectives involved in this aspect of the case knew that the bottom-level case had appeared mysteriously and been described as a brown Samsonite. They always treat everything in the container at that stage as if it's legitimate, normal passenger luggage. They also don't know about the break-in. It's as if these two pieces of information have been held back. Nobody questions the assumption they seem to have been told to make - second layer, so Frankfurt. Apparently even before all the forensics results are in. But all this was at a time when they had no Frankfurt baggage records and apparently no hope of getting any.

I don't like conspiracy theories, believe it or not, but this looks like a cover-up to me. Why would BAA's reputation be more important than finding the killers?

They got away with it at the FAI because nobody asked whose the Bedford suitcase had turned out to be. It's interesting Crown counsel was so keen to persuade Bedford the case he saw was sky-blue pink after all though. I also think nobody had really figured out that everything in that corner would be represented in the confetti of blast-damaged luggage scraps, and that it wasn't possible for all the scraps of one item right in the middle to have magically disappeared.

I think it was brown-trouser time in 1999 when they realised that there was no conclusive proof that the bomb hadn't been on the bottom layer, and none of the legitimate Heathrow items had been under the bomb, and the only unidentified suitcase in the mix of blast-damaged fragments was the bomb.

I think they had to do three things. Bury Sidhu's evidence so they could speculate freely that he must have moved these suitcases. Bury the detailed schedule of legitimate Heathrow items so they could leave open the vague possibility that the Bedford suitcase was legitimate passenger luggage. And find more evidence to bolster the second-layer theory. That's why I'm interested in the timeline of all the evidence pointing to the second layer, not just Indian Head. I suspect some of it originated in 1999-2000.

This lot pre-dates all the weird conspiracy theories by months and years. It's the ur-mistake, as it were. Of course once they saw tray 8849 and KM180, the Bedford suitcase was dead. Once they had their eye on Megrahi, it was buried in quicklime with a stake through its heart, as you discovered. But why was it wrapped in the Cloak of Invisibility before that?

baz said...

Wow - lot of stuff to go through - just a few brief points.

Whether there werem 7 or 8 bags depends on whether Bedford placed 5 or 6 at the back. (and without Ms Kerr's paper I was not sure exactly how many legitimate Interline bags there were - indeed I do not share Ms Kerr's certainty as to their description.)

I do not feel it was necessarily sloppy journalism to credit Hayes with identifying PT/35b "when it was Thurman who identified it." leppard said Hayes discovered it (sometime in 1990). The time line and even the fact of it's discovery is disputed and the SCCRC ESDA tests further confuse the issue.

"People can be sincerely wrong Juval Aviv now" - is Rolfe saying Aviv was sincerely wrong?

Like a number of other characters in this story notably Oswald Le Winter, Lester Coleman, Victor Ostrovsky Ian Spiro they purport to formerly intelligence operatives. Aviv's Interfor report is completely devoid of supporting evidence - it is just what he claims to have been told by senior Intelligence officials. Did he really speak to these people and if he did did they tell him the truth. I found some of Aviv's subsquent claims ludicrous. i.e. there is a video somewhere - but he doesn't have it!

"After the trial it was kind of obvious to everyone" (the London origin). Well not apparently obvious to John Ashton and Professor Black's associate Ian Ferguson who wrote a book claiming the risible "Maltese Double Cross" was actually true. Ashton was "researcher for Eddie McKechnie and Tony Kelly and continues to peddle some of the ludicrous "evidence" presented in the "Maltese Double Cross". (Francovich once wrote to me seriously arguing that the bomb exploded in the passenger compartment!"

"Did I really tell Paul Foot in 1996?"

I'm not sure. I wrote to him and received a brief typed response on headed paper apparently signed by Foot quoting a couple of key words and the comment "fascinating". It was signed with best wishes "Paul Foot". personally I suspect it was screened out by some minion - John Ashton perhaps!

I hadn't heard of Sidhu until the trial and by then it was too late. My objective was not a Mickey Mouse trial but a proper investigation.

I would point out the Police service is not a democracy and Orr was the OIC. Only Orr was (supposedly) in possession of the full facts. My impression is that when Orr spoke of the balance of probabilities favouring a Frankfurt origin he simply counted the number of Interline bags and Online bags in AVE4041 and concluded that as there were many more Frankfurt bags combined with "Autumn Leaves" and concluded the bomb suitcase had likely come from Frankfurt. The idea that the primary suitcase was neither an Online or an Interline bag did not occur to him. It is of course a pity that Mr Orr did not explain his reasoning to the trial which is probably why they needed Mr Cullis.

The fascinating thing about the Indian Head tests was that they used circuit board "similar to that thought to have been used in the actual bomb". How did they know?

In working out the Heathrow origin I relied heavily on the Air Accident Investigation Report which put the centre of the explosive evnt at 10.5 inches from the floor of AVE 4041 making a nonsense of claim the primary suitcase could have been in the third row.

"Why is there no investigation at that point"? In my experience Policemen do what they are told and senior officers can be very stupid. The Royal Hong Kong Police were unable to solve the "Hong Kong Terrorist Association" bombings although I told the OC case the culprit was a personal acquaintance of his" "No-couldn't be" was this cretin's response!

Rolfe said...

Just a few comments. All three baggage handlers who saw the container before the Frankfurt baggage was added were asked to load a container as closely as possible to the way they remembered it. All three put seven items in the container, not six or eight. It appears to be this exercise that led Orr to state that there were seven items in the container in March 1989. At that stage they probably didn't know for sure exactly how many items ought to have been there.

In addition, the group of 25 explosion-damaged items must represent all the luggage in the vicinity of the bomb. They recovered multiple fragments of even the most severely damaged items, including the bomb suitcase itself. The idea that there could have been another item right in the middle of that which magically failed to contribute any debris to the ensuing mix is unsustainable. That mix consisted of identified Heathrow interline and Frankfurt items, plus the bomb suitcase. Full stop.

This rules out a seventh and an eighth innocent suitcase loaded in the interline shed. Inevitably, the seven items in the container at that time were the six legitimate items and the bomb suitcase. We know this because all the details of the recovered baggage and its analysis and reconciliation exist. And because we know Sidhu didn't move these suitcases.

That evidence seems to have been held back by the Crown because it was absolutely devastating to the case against Megrahi and Fhimah. As a result, those of us who wanted to know more about this aspect were reduced to trawling Leppard, and the incomplete snippets that did find their way into the Zeist transcripts. This inevitably meant we were speculating with incomplete data. It's tempting, when doing that, to come up with conjecture and speculation, and I've done my share of that. The fact that three of the six legitimate items belonged to CIA spooks makes fertile ground for adding a bit of imagination.

However, once the evidence is revealed, it's distressingly mundane. The piles of memos detailing the bits of luggage as they found them, and the attempts to piece together which bit belonged to which and to whom, leave no real scope to call fraud. Perhaps the most striking observation is the points where it might actually have been possible to have fudged the identification and left wiggle-room maybe for Arnaud Rubin's or John Hubbard's luggage to have been a seventh item in the container. They didn't do it. The identity of the six items is really straighforward, and nobody even hints at a seventh.

I just don't see the point in continuing to postulate additional complications once the evidence we should have had all along renders them unnecessary.

I'm not going to continue to argue about the identification of PT/35b. There is some uncertainty about the timeline, but absolutely nobody but Leppard has ever suggested Hayes had anything to do with it, or any way he could have had anything to do with it. Hayes had left RARDE by then anyway, and was retraining as a chiropodist. Leppard's tale is pretty much the standard story of Thurman identifying it, but he's got the wrong person. He was in a hurry to get that book out, and he goofed.

Baz, you have misunderstood my point about Juval Aviv. The man is clearly a complete, dyed-in-the-wool fraud, and as the instigator of the whole Frankfurt bag-switch fantasy, he has a lot to answer for. Others, though, seem to have fallen for his bullshit, hook, line, sinker and rowboat.

Rolfe said...

"After the trial it was kind of obvious to everyone...." Well, not to Ashton and Ferguson, certainly, but to everyone who was actually awake and sentient at the time, and especially if they were reading Paul Foot. Jim Swire certainly said he had no doubt after hearing Bedford's evidence. (He was at the FAI too, and the full set of evidence was presented there including Sidhu's and Henderson's, it's just an enormous pity nobody spotted it then.)

I'm inclined to see Sidhu as key. Reading the Zeist judgement, it was clear he existed, but not that he'd given evidence. He wasn't even named. I was very keen to find out what he'd actually said about the early stages of the tarmac loading, because everyone seemed to be assuming he'd moved the stuff but without actually quoting him. When I got the transcripts I was gobsmacked to discover that he hadn't been called. That was the point when I realised he must have denied moving the original items, and the Crown didn't want that to come out in court.

Why would one cover the tarmac loading stage of the process by calling a witness who didn't join in until after the initial crucial couple of minutes, and not the guy who actually did the job? And note that Sandhu had to be brought from India to give evidence. So far as I know, Sidhu was still living in Hayes in 2000. (Even if he had been unavailable, the correct procedure would have been to admit his statements and his evidence to the FAI.) In my opinion the Crown had figured out the above reasoning that the Bedford suitcase was the bomb, and withheld evidence with the aim of preventing the court from figuring this out.

I am not at all convinced that "The idea that the primary suitcase was neither an Online or an Interline bag did not occur to [John Orr]." The possibility that the bomb suitcase had been smuggled directly into the interline shed is absolutely explicit in Bedford's statements - right from his first one dated 3rd January. And even without that, it was quite some time before they had amassed sufficient evidence to rule out the legitimate Heathrow interline items from being the bomb.

The point is, I believe, that Orr had issued a press statement on 30th December stating that the bomb had come in on the feeder flight, and Heathrow was in the clear. That was before Bedford revealed the container hadn't been empty when it was taken out on to the tarmac. Orr, however, continued to blank any suggestion that Heathrow might have been involved, in the teeth of Bedford's statements, and in the face of a black hole where the Frankfurt baggage records should have been.

I believe this is absolutely unconscionable. Heathrow should have been investigated properly. Not only was it not, the investigation (on 2nd February) also buried the statement from Manly about the break-in the previous night. It would appear that burial was also Orr's responsibility. Hide the break-in, and don't even ask Kamboj and Parmar where they were when Bedford was on his break, or if they'd seen anyone hanging about during that time.

Heathrow appears to have been deliberately protected by the investigation from the earliest weeks of the case, even at the price of failing to solve the crime and letting the murderers go free. This, I believe, is the real scandal of Lockerbie, and the one we should be screaming from the housetops.

venba said...

I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.

Heathrow Airport Transfer

Joseph said...

Every year when i need to come home i took flights to Islamabad from Heathrow as there are weakly 3-4 flights from Heathrow airport.

baz said...

Far out!