on 15 October 2013
This is John Ashton's new book on why the Lockerbie affair is still so important as the 25th anniversary of the bombing approaches. It is a more accessible, less detailed work than his magisterial Megrahi: You are My Jury which appeared in 2012, and as such is a relatively straightforward summary of the whole sorry saga, ideal for readers with little knowledge of the subject. But it is also essential reading for those already well versed in the events. One would like to hope that it would also be read by politicians, civil servants, government ministers, policemen and most of all the Crown Office, which comes in for well deserved criticism on many pages of the book.
Two chapters in particular are a reminder of why the wrongful conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi leaves such a stain on the Scottish justice system. The first, 'A Nation Condemned', details the appalling consequences for Libya of the sanctions imposed on it by the USA and UK through the UN. The second, 'The Crown out of Control', depicts the Crown Office (Scotland's sole prosecuting authority, which should be a completely impartial guardian of the delivery of justice) as being more concerned with saving face and protecting its own reputation than with recognising the massive embarrassment that its behaviour over the Lockerbie affair represents.
Sooner or later the political and legal establishments of Scotland are going to have to acknowledge what is now generally accepted by the public: that the Lockerbie investigation, prosecution, trial and conviction were a catalogue of errors at best, and of deliberate cover-ups and dodgy manipulations of the evidence at worst. Meanwhile, this book shines yet more light on this shameful business.
on 18 August 2014
Ever since Pan Am Flight PA103 broke up and crashed in Lockerbie on 21 December 1988, reasonably open-minded people have wondered if the whole story was being told. This book makes it perfectly clear that it was NOT. Indeed, the story that was told - and propagated by the mainstream media in the UK, USA, and around the world - seems to be a tissue of systematic deception that could hardly hold up without the cynical support of the powers that be. In this short, dense, extraordinarily well written book, John Ashton explains everything from the pre-conditions to the extremely serious consequences. His book is particularly relevant at a time when a similarly massive and cynical disinformation exercise is being conducted over the destruction of Malaysia Airways Flight MH17 in the Ukraine.
Mr Ashton suggests that the bombing of PA103 may well have been meant as retaliation for the shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 by the USS Vincennes on 3 July 1988. There is no conclusive evidence either way, but doesn't it seem likely that Iran would have sought revenge for that brutally cynical act, which killed 290 people - 20 more than Lockerbie? Especially as Vincennes was (illegally) in Iranian territorial waters at the time; the captain and crew were subsequently decorated; and Vice-President George H W Bush stated on 2 August 1988 that "I will never apologize for the United States -- I don't care what the facts are... I'm not an apologize-for-America kind of guy". That amounts to a very strong provocation; and indeed there is evidence that the investigation of the PA103 bombing initially focused entirely on Iran. How Libya wound up in the sights is something Mr Ashton explains very clearly and convincingly; suffice it to say that it's quite amazing how far-reaching the effects of a US election can be.
The rest of this deplorable tale unwinds relentlessly. How for years Libya asked for an impartial international investigation, only to be forced into accepting the almost unbelievable expedient of a trial in The Netherlands before a panel of Scottish judges - and with no jury. How Libya had to pay ruinous damages, even before the trial had begun. And how Abdelbaset al-Megrahi alone was convicted of the crime, even though the prosecution had declared that either both of the accused must be guilty, or neither. Then there are the details of questionable forensic procedures, witnesses who ended up as millionaires, the unidentified Americans who were prowling around the crash site without permission from the police or the Scottish authorities, the packages of white powder found at the scene but never referred to again, and the warning apparently given to South African foreign minister Pik Botha which persuaded him to stay overnight rather than fly on PA103. Not to mention the break-in at Heathrow Airport the night before PA103 took off, which could easily have allowed the fatal suitcase to be surreptitiously added to its load.
I don't want to reproduce the whole book here, and you will find far more detailed information in its pages. Mr Jim Swire, father of one of the Lockerbie victims, has written a compelling Introduction which explains his point of view - that Megrahi was innocent, and the real perpetrators have never been identified or punished. There are also full notes, a good index, and two documentary appendices.
on 3 August 2014
This is a must, must read for those who hold truth, honour and justice above political expediency and the cult of incompetence. Read it slowly and absorb the message, especially the message from Dr. Jim Swore. I will read it again and so should you.