After Cameron’s Libya Visit, Will the Lockerbie Case Be Re-Opened?

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Tom Stoddart / Getty Images

Early morning scene in Lockerbie after the flight Pan Am 103 crashed into the town, Dec. 22, 1988.

In Tripoli in early 2010, I was driven through farmland past watchtowers to an airy villa outside the Libyan capital, to meet the country’s second most powerful man: Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. Although he had paved the way for multi-billion dollar deals with U.S. and British oil companies, and built an influential fiefdom separate to his father, Libya’s autocrat Muammar Gaddafi, he was proudest of one act that sealed his authority back home and drew the ire of the West: Securing the release from a Scottish jail of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted in the shoot-down of a PanAm jet over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, which killed 270 people, 189 of them Americans. “I worked very hard to get him out of jail,” Saif said. “I think he is innocent, and he is very ill.”

Fast forward three years. Saif is now in jail awaiting trial in Libya, while Megrahi is dead, having succumbed to prostate cancer last May, proclaiming his innocence to the end. And on Thursday, Prime Minister David Cameron flew into Tripoli, and announced that British police would be permitted travel to Libya within the next two months to unearth the truth about the Lockerbie bombing, which remains—a generation on—the worst terrorist attack ever on British soil. Addressing reporters in Tripoli, Cameron said, “What we want to achieve is justice and a full uncovering of the facts.”

Good luck with that. Many knowledgeable Libyans are at this point dead, jailed or in exile. And more than 24 years after the bombing, those most affected by the Lockerbie bombing—the families of those killed—are deeply divided over the case, believing that justice was never fully done, but unable to agree on who was to blame.

In December a group of relatives of U.S. victims petitioned Congress to open oversight hearings into Lockerbie, claiming that top officials in the Gaddafi regime were implicated in the bombing, but that they had been gone unpunished because the U.S. and Libya were patching up years of hostilities; those could include Gaddafi’s old intelligence chief Moussa Koussa, who fled during the revolution, reportedly to Qatar.

Yet several British families who lost loved ones in the attack are convinced Megrahi was wrongly convicted at a time when Western governments were determined to see someone punished for the Lockerbie attack, and that the true culprits could lie elsewhere entirely, like Iran, since the bombing occurred shortly after an Iranian jet had been shot down. Jim Swire, a British physician whose daughter was killed in the Lockerbie attack, remains convinced Megrahi was innocent, and on Thursday, wrote on his website, “There simply isn’t any genuine evidence of Libyan involvement at any level.” John Mosey, who also lost a daughter in the bomb attack, likewise believes Megrahi’s trial was a sham. Both men sat through months of testimony in Megrahi’s international trial in the Hague. In an interview last year, Mosey told TIME that after the trial, “I came away 80 to 90 percent convinced that this man was not guilty. It was very clear that there was political interference.”

In a curious twist of fate, one key to unlocking some facts about Lockerbie could lie with Saif. There is no word whether British investigators will be allowed to question Saif, who has spent 14 months in the custody of the militia brigade of Zintan, which has refused to transfer him to the national prisons system or to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, where he is wanted for war crimes. Saif’s only public appearance was in a Zintan court last month, where he was charged with conspiring with an ICC lawyer who visited him last year.

Should he be allowed to cooperate with British investigators—and should he wish to—Gaddafi’s once-powerful son, as the only family member still alive and in Libya, could potentially answer the crucial question: If Megrahi was innocent, who is guilty? Although Saif was just 16 when the Lockerbie bombing happened, he long told journalists (including me in three interviews since 2004) that Libya had agreed to hand over Megrahi and one other defendant simply in order to end years of international sanctions. If that is so, it is possible that Saif could well have had access to information concerning the true culprits. As part of the deal that ended sanctions, Libya was obliged to settle claims of terror attacks, including Lockerbie, the bombing of a U.S. nightclub in Berlin, and the killing of police officer Yvonne Fletcher in London. Gaddafi paid $270 million to the families of the Lockerbie victims—$1 million per death—while never admitting Libya’s guilt.

One other figure might also be helpful to the British investigators: Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief Abdallah Senoussi, who was captured on the run in Mauritania and extradited last September to a jail cell in Libya. He too is likely to have knowledge of the Lockerbie plot—if Libya was indeed involved—and he is believed to have helped appeal to Scottish authorities to free Megrahi.

Meanwhile, Libya’s former Oil Minister Shukri Ghanem drowned in a canal in Vienna last year, having never revealed the most controversial, unanswered question surrounding Megrahi: Whether his release was entangled with lucrative British business deals in Libya at the time. A $900-million oil exploration deal for BP, inked in 2004 when British sanctions were lifted, was ratified only after Megrahi flew home in 2009 to rapturous crowds at Tripoli Airport—escorted off the plane by a beaming Saif.


The last thing we want is any inquiry that involves the British and Americans. If such an inquiry did happen, it must be carried out from the very beginning and by a totally new and independent group of investigators. If it did happen, I should be allowed a voice and my evidence fully investigated, plus certain other gagged witnesses. The only thing positive we know about the PA 103 incident is that a plane full of people fell from the sky, nothing more and words like Crime, Terrorist or Bomb should not be used until the findings are fully concluded. John Hall RAISD.

ScottF 1 Like

Frank, can i ask you a question please? If the trial was about to go ahead now (rather than all those years ago), with all the information regarding the "evidence" in the public domain today and the checkered histories of the forensic scientists involved in the case now out in the open. Do you seriously expect anyone apart from the families of those killed in the bombing to believe Mr Megrahi was the bomber? Seriously?

A men's clothing shopkeeper that can't seem to judge a customer (he remembers) build, age or facial make up.

A brown slalom shirt he sells miraculously turns grey in the bombing.

A mebo timer fragment is found yet it turns out its composition is different from its 19 brethren.

Thurman changing reports in other investigations to favour prosecution line. He's also a scientific expert with only a basic qualification. Feraday our forensics expert has also been found out.

More than a little strange that Feraday had to renumber his Lockerbie notebook to "enter" finding aforesaid timer fragment.

I've only scratched the surface of this grubby cover up, but i'd say the official line is bull. The public that still believe Mr Megrahi was the bomber haven't studied the case. Our governments know what really happened. Libya was the bogeyman and the U.S. spread misinformation about Libya in that era.

Regards, Scott

jogreenhorn 1 Like

If this journalist doesn't know "Whether his release was entangled with lucrative British business deals in Libya at the time." then she must have been asleep for a few years.  

Blair's dealing in the desert was all about that very thing.   Blair was as keen as mustard to get Megrahi home only he wanted to run the whole show until Salmond intervened and reminded him it was a Scottish matter.   It was Saif Gaddafi, again, who claimed that throughout the dealing the issue of Megrahi "was never off the table".    

There are those in Scotland who wonder why Salmond went along with the plan.   There is no doubt that there was a great deal of co operation between the Scottish and Westminster governments on the release (even if Labour politicians feigned outrage at the time).    For it came out that Blair was in the negotiations up to this neck!   What we don't know is what the sweetener was for Salmond and the SNP that they were persuaded to play ball up to and including coercing Megrahi into dropping his appeal (when he did not have to if being released on compassionate grounds) and, when passing "emergency legislation on Cadder" sneaking in major changes to the remit of the SCCRC meaning that it would lose the power to refer cases directly back to the appeal court.   (The latter of course could kill stone dead any new appeal brought on Megrahi's behalf.   MacAskill handed that power to a judge.   Well, why not?  They served the political and judicial establishments so well last time around!   Interesting that the SCCRC was always meant to work "free of judicial and political interference" yet this case has seen unprecedented interference of that very nature from start to finish.            

jogreenhorn 3 Like

There is part of the article I don't quite get.  It rightly claims that Saif has stated in the past that Libya took the fall for Lockerbie to release the country from the crippling sanctions imposed on it by the UN.   What I'm not sure of is the logic followed by the writer in saying that if Saif said this then he may know who the real culprits were.  Why would that necessarily follow?   

Whatever anyone thinks it is surely clear to all that this verdict needs to be re-examined in order to consider all the evidence, much of which was not even known to the court at Zeist never mind the defence.    We can argue forever over the safety of the conviction: the only thing that will settle the matter is for the conviction to be properly tested.   That is the only thing that will also restore justice in Scots Law.   Eighty-six per cent of Scottish lawyers believe this case was seriously flawed.    The SCCRC raised at least six and more evidence has emerged since their report which exposes more.    (And that isn't counting the evidence requested from the UK government which that government refused to release to them.)  

There is nothing to fear from the truth.     Which kind of makes one wonder why the very idea of getting to it freaks so many people out.    

commissioner.carlsson 1 Like


This is what I e-mailed on 7 September 2010 to Scottish Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill:

Dear Mr MacAskill,

Statement to Parliament: Fabricated Evidence at the Lockerbie Trial

I should be grateful if you would make a statement to the Scottish Parliament concerning the fabrication of evidence which was used to convict Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi in the Lockerbie trial.

At least three people were involved in the deception: two were prosecution witnesses at the trial - Alan Feraday and Dr Thomas Hayes. The discredited FBI explosives laboratory manager, Thomas Thurman, was not called to testify.

Full details are given in my published article which was removed from Wikipedia in June 2009.

As a result of your statement in Parliament, I expect the Lord Advocate, Elish Angiolini, to prosecute the named individuals for perverting the course of justice.

Yours sincerely,

Patrick Haseldine

HM Diplomatic Service



I'm still awaiting Mr MacAskill's reply!

SarahO'Brien 5 Like

Frank - what "overwhelming" evidence do you have that Libya and/or Megrahi was involved? Or do you just believe that? So why wasn't it made known - before Megrahi's conviction - that there was a breakin at Heathrow airport just hours before? Or that one witness was deemed as unreliable? Or that Gauci's initial description of a man who bought xlothes at his shop in Sliema at first was that of a man who was a lot taller, and older, than Megrahi would have been at the time? Gauci couldn't positively identify Megrahi until he was shown a picture. The lure of a promise of money perhaps? I'm no lawyer by any stretch of the imagination, but there were too many discrepencies in the "evidence" used to convict him. About time the conviction was overturned - and time for those in the know to start admitting there was a miscarriage of justice. And I would strongly suggest that you read the link that Martin Adams has given. 

MartinAdams 4 Like

Frank Duggan.

I do wonder about you sometimes. Are you convinced about Megrahi's culpability and genuinely criticising anyone who isn't. Or do you know that he is innocent and are just being a schill? David Cameron for example. He knows Megrahi was innocent yet being a politician he's an expert in the art of lying through his teeth, expressing his righteous indignation about the book Megrahi: You Are My Jury without even having read one page. Obama also expressed his righteous indignation about Megrahi's release knowing full well that he was innocent.

Frank. You must know that the only piece of physical evidence, the circuit board fragment, has now been shown to be false. And not just because it is mentioned in that book by John Ashton. It really has been tested by independent scientists. The whole court case was a sham Frank. Insulting people who have come to this conclusion seems your only weapon these days.

I suggest you invest some time in reading the following link.  It's written by a respected British Queen's Counsel. It might just open your eyes to the fact that the families of the victims have had the wool pulled over their eyes by successive US and UK governments for the best of 20 years.

StewartDredge 4 Like


There is plenty more evidence pointing to the miscarriage of justice at Camp Zeist though those interested should be wary of some of the dafter conspiracy theories which inevitably nowadays attatch themselves to cases like this. I suggest people should read Professor Robert Black's site "The Lockerbie Case" which has a wealth of accurate information and informed discussion.

Frank, instead of using old, supposedly inaccurate Time articles to muddy the waters here you should address yourself to the case-related issues. Let's start with just one. Do you still deny that Tony Gauci was (illegally under Scots Law) paid a huge amount of American money after giving his evidence at Camp Zeist?

StewartDredge 3 Like

Frank Duggan, you know very well there is/was not overwhelming evidence against Megrahi. YOU were even unaware recently that DCI Bell's diaries showed Mr Gauci was talking about rewards right from the start and that he was finally paid $2m by the Americans for his evidence. Anyone wanting to hear your discomiture in discussing that important piece of evidence with George Galloway will find it on You Tube. It completely blew your credibility as a serious commentator on Lockerbie.

UK Justice Forum covers the evidence re Mr Feraday and the coating on the timer circuit-board tracks which is a game-changer but there is lots of other stuff. The SCCRC, an official committee which examinines pre-appeal evidence in Scottish courts, found 6 (SIX) points, even on its limited remit, indicating that there might have been a miscarriage of justice.

Then there is the Heathrow break-in where baggage handlers gave statements that that a dark samsonite suitcase (the bomb suitcase was dark samsonite) mysteriously appeared in their loading bay just before the flight and AFTER an airside gate was found to have been breeched using bolt-cutters. Anyone wanting info on this should google Lockerbie Bedford Suitcase. Anyway, although the break-in and the mysterious appearance of the suitcase were known to the prosecution it was not passed onto the defence. I wonder why not!

jogreenhorn 1 Like


Hello Stewart. 

I'm not sure Mr Duggan will  like it that you mention the millions of dollars paid to the Gaucis in exchange for testimony.  He told George Galloway on his radio show that the US had not paid anything to the Gaucis.   George had to break it to him gently.    Mr Duggan got into such a paddy about it he hung up the phone.    Want the link?   Its still on You Tube.    It is such a pity no one shared the deal with the judges otherwise the Gaucis testimony would have gone the same route as Giaka's when the judges found out that he too was in the pay of the US authorities.   For, in Scotland, we call that bribery and it isn't allowed.   

Interesting too that the truth about Giaka only emerged when the judges didn't take the Lord Advocate's word for it that there was nothing in cables exchanged between the US and Scottish authorities about Giaka that would of interest to the defence.   The Lord Advocate remember is also often referred to as the holder of the "top law post in Scotland".   We'd expect the truth from him would we not?   Did we get it?  We did not!  For when the judges ordered the contents of the cables to be released lo and behold it was found that Giaka was being paid by the US authorities yet had been slung in there as a "witness".   The Lord Advocate has misled the judges and the court.   The judges kicked Giaka into touch.  Had they known the Gaucis stood to make millions out of their testimony they would have gone the same way.   


@Justice_forum @TIMEWorld justice to for pc Yvonne Fletcher


Cold blooded murder. We owe it to her memory to do the job now @BeaumontAnthony @justice_forum @timeworld 2/2


If ever there was case that showed up diplomatic immunity it was this one. It wasn't unpaid @BeaumontAnthony @justice_forum @timeworld 1/2


@Justice_forum @TIMEWorld Crashed out.

UK_Justice_Forum 3 Like

Frank Duggan is wrong in his assertions on so many levels.  Many people in the UK now believe that Mr Megrahi was wrongly convicted and what's more, this is based on evidence and not semantics.

We now know that the timer fragment was not manufactured by Mebo in Switzerland and was in fact a fake.  Metallurgical tests have since proven that the timer was not part of a shipment originally provided to Libya.

We also know that Mr Megrahi was not even on the island of Malta on the day when clothes shop owner Tony Gauci claimed to have sold him several garments. Gauci actually saw Megrahi's picture in a local newspaper prior to identifying him.  Why were the gauci brothers paid several million dollars for their testimony?  Is this what passes for US justice?

And so on and on it goes.  The SCCRC have rightly said that there should be a referral of the case to the court of appeal and it is sincerely hoped that this will still happen. Mr Megrahi was innocent!


This is another dreadful article from a Time reporter. The families are not bitterly divided. There are a half dozen in the UK who still claim Megrahi was innocent, despite the overwhelming evidence of his involvement in this unspeakable act of state sponsored mass murder. This reporter seems more interested in her own involvement, and could not have spoken to anyone on the prosecution or investigation of this case. Another Time magazine cover story was similarly misleading and proved embarrassing to the publishers when they wrote that Libya was not involved, but rather a drug deal gone bad, This infamous incident was published the early 90's, and it would appear that Time has not profited from the scandal.

Frank Duggan, President

Victims of Pan Am 103, Inc.

jogreenhorn 1 Like


Can I ask you something Mr Duggan.  You label yourself as "President of Victims of Pan Am 103" group.  Do you ever think about the dead of Lockerbie?   Does it not bother you that there are so many doubts in this case.  Do you not think sometimes that it would be best to just re-rest everything again just so that you can be sure?     How are you able to dismiss the evidence already out there that this verdict was unsafe and keep attacking others who aren't so much taking a side as concerned that justice is properly served?    If you are certain enough in your belief why not stand aside and declare that yes the conviction should be retested.   If you are right in your own view wouldn't you love the chance to prove your own position was the right one?    


@TIME @TIMEWorld A vida é um espelho que reflete seu autêntico e único feedback a si mesmo. Ela, a vida vem refletindo de dentro para fora!"


@vivwalt @TIMEWorld BTW #Saif #Gaddafi was just 16 NOT 26 when the Lockerbie bombing happened


You people must be really crazy, the Libyan inte Kosa is your pri-minister and Sarkozy best friend, why he was never asked all this time after the fall of Gaddafi. Why Cameron is doing this now????? He is only using that as a game of mickey mouse to scare the Libyan public not to go out and throw out the imported government that consist of Libyan with American, British, French and German Nationalities to destroy Libya and steal all the wealth to their mother Queen Elizabeth who is behind all this dirty criminal work with her dirty Saudi King to create a Kingdom for the stupid king so she can share the power on the wealth because the stupid un educated Saudi king is just a poppet to the west. Do you people know all Libyan are ready to protest against their current government in the same day it protested against the previous government. Do you know at least % 85 of the Libyan people are crying for losing their leader, he maybe wasn't perfect but they had a lot better life with him than with the current imported government. Do you know over 2,000,000 Libyan people is misplaced by the gangs and the killing that still in the country? do you know that over 20,000 people are still in the Libyan persons and at least 2 - 5 die every day due to the abuse and torture. do you know all the money and investments implemented by previous government in European, African and Asian countries have disappeared and owned by new people and corporations and they think that the Libyan people don't know about them. Do you the war is restarting again by Tunisia, Algeria and Libya as it started in 2011? DO you that Cameron is doing all he can do to not allow people to protest in the Libyan streets because that will show the international community that the was that was lunched on the Libyan people was a western implemented war and the Libyan can take those dirty western governments to court if they can??? Do you know that un accounted British specially trained mercenaries are been placed in Tripoli and most of which have accompanied Cameron in his flight to Libya, most of which are placed in different sites around the capital Tripoli? Did you see what Cameron arrived at Tripoli airport, there were only British special commanders who meet him and non Libyan officials where on site (He think that he is the rulers of Libyan, the new "British Mussolini")???


Like you said "...Good luck with that..."