John Ashton and Ian Ferguson's new book on Lockerbie "Cover-up of Convenience" describes itself as "Lifting the lid on the story the public never heard." Anyone who has followed the case will have heard this story before. It is simply a rehash of the "drug conspiracy" theory first advanced by Jules Aviv and Lester Coleman and elaborated on in Alan Francovich's film The "Maltese Double Cross" (MDC) on which John Ashton was credited as a researcher and is described by in the book by Tam Dalyell MP as "Francovich's Deputy and John Ashton wrote that the book was inspired by Francovich.
Aviv and Coleman claimed that a "controlled" deliveries of drugs were sent from Frankfurt Airport and that this scheme was infiltrated and the terrorists substituted the "drug suitcase" for one containing the bomb. However Francovich and the present authors claim that a suitcase of drugs was recovered at Tundergarth but spirited away by US agents.
In the "MDC" Francovich's consultant Oswald LeWinter was featured talking on the phone to a former CIA colleague who disclosed that at Frankfurt Airport the alleged drug courier Jafaar had bypassed Customs escorted by members of the CIA's "Special Action Group" and was escorted to his "keeper" on the flight CIA officer Matthew Gannon. However as the book elsewhere admits Gannon wasn't on the feeder flight from Frankfurt but joined PA103 at Heathrow from a flight from Cyprus.
However Cover-up of Convenience makes the frank admission that LeWinter (recently imprisoned for trying to sell Mohamed Al-Fayed evidence Princess Diana and his son Dodi were murdered by MI6) was a "known fabricator." Yet the book claims that "Francovich handled all information provided by LeWinter with great care and did not include any of it in the film without independent corroboration" yet only pages later write "in the absence of any corroborating evidence the assertion that Jafaar had a CIA minder remains hypothetical."
Leaving aside how you corroborate a "known fabricator" when he was alive Francovich strenuously denied that LeWinter was a fabricator claiming he had been a CIA officer for twenty years. Was Francovich duped or did he use a fabricator because without one he had no evidence?
However the authors have three further witnesses and what a trio. Firstly there is a convicted drug trafficker Steve Donohue (described in the MDC as an "undercover DEA agent)on behalf of "Jamil" wants to trade the US authorities information on his relative Khalid Jafaar in exchange for permission to import a consignment of hashish into the US! Then there is PFLP-GC defector and former "intelligence chief" Major Tunayb who "confirmed Khalid Jafaar's unwitting role in the bombing." - "According to Tunayb the bomb was planted on him. He admitted he was unsure exactly how this was done and who made the bomb." Thirdly there is a Mr Goldberg who claimed to a Pan Am employee to have had a conversation with Khalid Jafaar on a train in Sweden before disappearing. In their conclusion the authors write "we believe the bomb suitcase was either substituted for or added to a suitcase believed by the unsuspecting Khalid Jafaar to contain heroin." The theory is illogical. If drugs were found at the crashsight this would mean this suitcase could not have contained the bomb. If it was "added to" it would mean the terrorists had smuggled aboard two suitcases, one containing the bomb and one containing heroin a bizarre proposition. If thee were drugs on the flight this can have nothing whatsoever to do with the bombing.
Like Coleman/Aviv/Francovich and indeed the defense team at Camp Zeist the authors advance the not unreasonable theory that the bomb was built by CIA "asset" Marwan Khreesat. However as "Khreesat" bombs incorporated a barometric such a bomb could not have been introduced at Frankfurt and exploded after take-off from Heathrow.
One interesting point in the book is the claim (without evidence) that the late English "businessman" Ian Spiro "who had sold weapons to Iran since the late 1970's and had developed good contacts with Iranian backed Islamic radicals in the Lebanon" played "David Lovejoy" an alleged double agent who betrayed the travel plans of the US agents who perished at Lockerbie. "David Lovejoy" features in Coleman's book and was famously misidentified by Time Magazine in their reworking of the Lockerbie "drug conspiracy."
If there was such a person as Lovejoy Oliver North's associate Spiro fits the bill and this allegation, if true, might cast some light on the murder of Spiro's family. However Spiro was less a spy than a conman and contrary to his self-created legend I am not aware of any real evidence he ever set foot in Beirut.
This book does contain some interesting coverage of the trial and makes some good points in their criticism of the Crown case and the Judgement itself . If the authors had stuck to this instead of trying to advance a version of events even more unlikely than the official scenario they may have written an important book.