MSP asks US to back inquiry into Pan Am 103 crash

Source: The Firm Magazine

MSP Christine Grahame has challenged the US Government to support a “thorough and comprehensive” international inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the Pan Am 103 crash.

Grahame, who has previously said there is evidence British ministers are preventing the truth of the Pan Am 103 event reaching the public domain, has written to the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling on her to back the inquiry. The call comes on the same day a series of news articles have linked Abdelbaset Ali Mohmad Al Megrahi's release with deals made by under-fire oil company BP, who have been villified in US media and the Senate.

“There remains legitimate concern about how this case was investigated and prosecuted and also, from the US side, ongoing anger at the decision to release Mr Megrahi," Grahame said.

"The details of the lengthy investigation carried out by the independent Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission concluded there may have been a serious miscarriage of justice with regard to the conviction of Mr Megrahi, but that new evidence is unlikely ever to be seen in public unless we secure a major inquiry. The Scottish Government has already said it would co-operate fully with an inquiry if one were set up.

“I am now challenging the US Government to do likewise and help establish an international inquiry into the events that led to the bombing of PA103 over Lockerbie and examine all of the facts related to this case.

“Having examined much of the additional material and reviewed previous evidence I am left in no doubt about Mr Megrahi’s innocence, but I think it is equally clear that there are large state interests, both in the US and UK eager to see that the truth behind Lockerbie never emerges."

Both Malcolm Rifkind, transport minister in 1988 and former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright referred to the airliner's downing as an accident, a line of inquiry not pursued by UK or US governments. In 2009 former Scotsman editor Magnus Linklater confirmed that UK and US intelligence had directly steered the angle of the media's coverage of the investigation. Grahame previously reported Crown Agent Norman MacFadyen to Lothian and Borders police over concerns over the handling of material relating to the criminal inquiry.

A Firm investigation published in 2007 concluded that there was sufficient evidence to warrant an investigation into the possibility that the airliner was destroyed as the result of an accidental explosion, possibly resulting from the unintended detonation of weapons components carried illegally on the plane. Such material can be sensitive to specific radio frequencies.

The explosives incident aboard the airliner took place during a period of intense radio activity as the cockpit communicated with air traffic control to obtain their transatlantic clearance. Explosives evidence introduced during the Zeist trial was later found to have been fabricated. An analysis undertaken by Dr Ludwig de Braeckeleer concluded that it was "scientifically implausible" for Pan Am 103 to have been brought down by a semtex detonation as alleged at the Zeist trial.

“If the US Government has nothing to hide then I would expect them to support the establishment of an international inquiry into the bombing. I rather suspect however they will, for their own national interest, pursue the same tired line about the manner in which Mr Megrahi was sent back to Libya. That aspect is only a very small part of what requires to be examined and in many ways has acted as a smokescreen to the much more substantive questions that remained unanswered," Grahame said.

“I do not believe the full facts are yet known. I think once they are made public then many in the US will be looking to their own Government for an explanation about why they have been deceived.

“I understand and sympathise with the many, mostly US families, who believe Mr Megrahi is guilty of this terrible crime. That is why it is imperative that an international inquiry examines all of the circumstances of this case, not simply Mr Megrahi’s release on compassionate grounds back to Libya, but the manner in which the initial investigation was conducted, the trial and the alleged additional crime scene of the FBI laboratory in Washington where former FBI officials believe key evidence related to the case may have been tampered with.

“The families of the victims deserve the actual truth and not the spoon fed version of it they have so far received from the US and British Governments.”