Everything you’ve read about the Lockerbie saga is false

Not for the first time the Lockerbie narrative is being distorted out of all recognition for political ends, by the US-UK governments in the 1990s, by the UK Government and the Scottish Executive in 2009, and now by Cameron in his statement on Tuesday. Cameron’s line was that Labour “had done all it could to facilitate” the release of al-Megrahi by the Scottish Executive.   What he didn’t say was what conceivable motive Labour might have had to act in that way: since Megrahi was held responsible for the deaths of 270 people, why should Labour go out of its way to get him released?   Gus O’Donnell records a meeting with the Libyans in 2008 at which “the Libyans made clear that Megrahi’s death in custody would have very serious implications to UK/Libya relations”.   But why should the UK submit to crude blackmail of this kind from Libya – unless it had its own ulterior motive?   It did.

The Lockerbie saga must surely be one of the most contorted propaganda stories in modern politics.   The Libyans had no motive whatever for bringing down Pan Am flight 103.   The evidence used to convict Megrahi is, in the view of independent observers including the assiduous campaigner Jim Swire who lost a daughter on the flight and who attended the trial in the Netherlands, seriously flawed in terms of the key witness from Malta, Tony Gauci, who repeatedly changed his evidence, the question of a CIA plant of incriminating evidence, and of course the motive.   Megrahi is almost certainly innocent.   However that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been made a pawn in international politics.   He has.

Those who did have a compelling motive were the Iranians whose civil airline carrying some 259 passengers had been brought down on 3 July 1988 by an American warship, the USS Vincennes, in the Gulf.   The Lockerbie bombing was clearly long planned and there are good grounds for believing that they commissioned the task to the Palestinian Ahmed Gibril, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an offshoot of the PLO.   In the aftermath of the Lockerbie bombing however the US was seeking to build a Middle East alliance against the expansionism of Saddam Hussein and didnot want to pick a major quarrel with the Arab States.   Libya however was a sworn enemy of the US after Gadaffi overthrew Libya’s Anglo-American puppet king, kicked the Americans out of the Wheeler AirForce base and began buying Soviet equipment and weapons.   Libya denied involvement and the Security Council imposed sanctions in 1992, notably a ban on air links to Libya and on the sale to Libya of arms and oil-drilling equipment which Libya claims cost it £31bn over the next 7 years.

Libya therefore had a motive to regain acceptance by the international community.   Britain also had a motive to help them to do so.   BP had long been lobbying to gain access to the vast Libyan oilfields.   However much the UK Government and the FCO try to cover up the truth, it was the prospect of Libyan oil that caused UK Ministers to reopen official contacts with Libya in 2005 that led to Blair’s visit to Gadaffi a year later and ultimately to the release of Megrahi.

  1. This is impossible to accept.

    If you begin to believe that the US and the UK have a history of misattributing terrorist atrocities, manipulating and covering up evidence then where would it all end…

  2. What you seem to be saying is that the last government did not believe he was guilty, so instead of relying on the Scottish legal sysem to dispense justice, they decided to find a way round it. Yes, I can believe that!

  3. I’ve always thought the reason he was released was because they knew darned well he wasn’t guilty. The British government did not want Megrahi’s appeal to go ahead and he agreed to drop this if he was released. Who knows what the appeal may have brought to light? Perhaps the truth will be revealed one day, but it won’t be for a very long time.