Lee Geshuny's new play "Lockerbie: Lost Voices" follows six passengers onto Pam Am Flight 103, destroyed over Lockerbie by a bomb in December 1988. It's fiction, of course. But it differs from the fictions told in the courts and the media in that the only made-up things are the personalities and conversations of the six passengers.
After the explosion, the spirits of the passengers watch events unfold in Lockerbie. They see the kindness that the people of Lockerbie showed to the victims' relatives who came to the town. They see US officials arrive in helicopters and remove material from the crime scene. They see that they are not going to find out what happened to them, or why. But one of them predicts that there will be some people who will ask questions, and that then there will be thousands, and then millions.
It's a nice tribute to the people who have already made superhuman efforts to uncover the truth about the tragedy. And perhaps also a gentle hint to those who could still do more.
The Lockerbie bombing remains by far the deadliest act of terrorism ever to have occurred in the UK. The trial of of Abdelbaset al Megrahi and Lamin Khalifah Fhimah by a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands – which led to Megrahi's conviction in January 2001 – was the most conspicuous appearance that Scots law has ever made on the world stage. But the trial was fatally flawed. We are no closer to knowing who carried out the bombing than we were in December 1988.
All 259 of the passengers and crew on Flight 103 died. So did 11 people from Lockerbie. Amongst the audience for Friday's performance of the play were Jim and Jane Swire, whose daughter Flora was a passenger on the plane, and Marina de Larracochea, whose sister Maria was a flight attendant.
Speaking after the performance, Dr Swire highlighted two crucial flaws (there were others, of course) in the investigation of the bombing. He said that Dumfries and Galloway Police and the Crown Office had withheld information that the baggage area of Heathrow had been broken into hours before the Flight 103 took off from there. Journalists came to Dr Swire's home to talk to him on the day the story broke. It was 11 September 2001. The story disappeared from most people's view for a while.
The second problem became public knowledge in 2012, revealed in John Ashton's book Megrahi: You are my Jury. It turned out that there was evidence that a fragment of a circuit board – a timing device for the bomb – found at the crash scene could not have come from a batch of circuit boards supplied to Libya by their Swiss manufacturer. The claim that it had done so was central to the case against Megrahi. The evidence contradicting the claim had not been disclosed to Megrahi's defence team.
Police are currently investigating allegations of criminal misconduct by Colin Boyd QC (Lord Advocate ot the time of Megrahi's trail), by members of the prosecution team, and by officers of Dumfries and Galloway Police.
Marina de Larracochea pointed out that, throughout the all the long legal process dealing with Lockerbie bombing, the familes of the victims had never had their own independent representation. "We don't have another twenty five years," she said.
Go and see the play.
Locherbie: Lost Voices is playing at the Scottish Storytelling Centre (Fringe Venue 30a), 43-45 High Street, at 7pm August 3-6, 8-13, 15-20, 22-26.
The play was written by Lee Gershuny and directed by Corinne Harris for Elements World Theatre. Members of the cast are Corinne Harris, James Bryce, Isabella Jarrett, Hanah Jarrett-Scott, Tim Licata and Doreen McGillivray.
Image: © The Elements
More About the Lockerbie Tragedy
- Lockerbietruth - the website of Dr Jim Swire and Lockerbie researcher Peter Biddulph.
- Megrahi: You are my Jury - site and blog to accompany the book by John Ashton.
- The Lockerbie Case - blog by Robert Black QC.
- The Framing of al al Megrahi - by Gareth Peirce.
- Lockerbie deserves a Meaningful Inquiry - by Jim Swire.
- The Course of Justice - text of the text of the letter submitted by the committee of the Justice for Megrahi group to Kenny MacAskill, alleging criminal misconduct by the Crown Office and the police
- Lockerbie - the Flight from Justice (pdf document) by Paul Foot - special report published by Private Eye magazine shortly after the conviction of Megrahi in 2001. Flawless reporting, still relevant today and very useful for understanding the revelations of prosecution and police misconduct that have come to light since then.
Image: © The Elements