Do you know the truth about Lockerbie?
I urge anyone who is aware of government lies over Flight 103 to
By Robert Fisk
-- After writing about the "ravers" who regularly turn up at
lectures to claim that President Bush/the CIA/the Pentagon/Mossad
etc perpetrated the crimes against humanity of 11 September, I
received a letter this week from Marion Irvine, who feared that
members of her family run the risk of being just such "ravers"
and "voices heard in the wilderness". Far from it.
For Mrs Irvine was writing about Lockerbie, and, like her, I
believe there are many dark and sinister corners to this
atrocity. I'm not at all certain that the CIA did not have a
scam drugs heist on board and I am not at all sure that the
diminutive Libyan agent Megrahi – ultimately convicted on the
evidence of the memory of a Maltese tailor – really arranged to
plant the bomb on board Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988.
But I take Mrs Irvine's letter doubly seriously because her
brother, Bill Cadman, was on board 103 and died in the night
over Lockerbie 19 years ago. He was a sound engineer in London
and Paris, travelling with his girlfriend Sophie – who, of
course, was also killed – to spend Christmas with Sophie's aunt
in the United States. Nothing, therefore, could be more eloquent
than Mrs Irvine's own letter, which I must quote to you. She
strongly doubts, she says, Libya's involvement in the bombing.
"We have felt since the first days in December 1988," she
writes, "that something was being hidden from us ... the
discrediting of the Helsinki (US embassy) warning, the presence
of the CIA on Scottish soil before the work of identifying
bodies was properly undertaken, the Teflon behaviour of
ministers and government all contributed to a deep feeling of
"This reached a peak when my father was told by a member of the
American Presidential Commission on Aviation Security and
Terrorism that our government knew what had happened but that
the truth would not come out. In the truth vacuum, the
worst-case scenario – that lives were sacrificed in expiation
for the Iranian lives lost in June 1988 – takes on a certain
degree of credibility. The plane was brought down in the last
dangerous moments of the Reagan presidency."
Now I should explain here that the Iranian lives to which Mrs
Irvine refers were the Iranian passengers of an Airbus civilian
airliner shot down over the Gulf by a US warship a few months
before Lockerbie and before the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq
The USS Vincennes – nicknamed Robocruiser by the crews of other
American vessels – blasted its missiles at the Airbus on the
assumption that it was a diving Iranian air force jet. It wasn't
– and the Airbus was climbing – but Reagan, after a few cursory
apologies, blamed Iran for the slaughter, because it had refused
to accept a UN ceasefire in the war with Iraq in which we were
backing our old friend Saddam Hussein (yes, the same!).
The US navy also awarded medals – god spare us – to the captain
of the Vincennes and to his gunnery crew. Some weeks later the
boss of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
General Command – a pro-Iranian Palestinian outfit in Lebanon –
suddenly called a press conference in Beirut to deny to
astonished reporters that he was involved in Lockerbie.
Why? Was he being fingered? Was Iran? Only later did those
familiar "official sources" who had initially pointed the finger
at Iran start blaming Libya. By then we needed the support of
Iran's ally Syria and Iranian quiescence in our attempt to
liberate Kuwait after Saddam's 1990 invasion. Personally, I
always thought that Lockerbie was revenge for the Airbus
destruction – the PLP's strange press conference lends credence
to this – which makes sense of Mrs Irvine's courageous letter.
Her parents, Martin and Rita Cadman, have, she says, had
countless meetings with MPs, including Tam Dalyell and Henry
Bellingham, Cecil Parkinson, Robin Cook and Tony Blair, and with
Nelson Mandela (whose appeal for Megrahi to be transferred to a
Libyan prison was supported by the Cadmans).
In a poignant sentence, Mrs Irvine adds that her parents "are
ageing and in their anxiety that they will die with no one
having taken real responsibility for their son's death are in
danger of losing focus and feeling that they themselves are
'raving'. The (1980-88) war in Iraq meant that no lessons were
being learned, and because my brother chanced to be on that
plane we all now feel a heightened sense of responsibility for
the world situation".
Then Mrs Irvine comes to the point. "What can we do? Now that my
father is older and it is up to us, the next generation, to try
to needle the government, but is there any hope? I am writing to
ask if you think there is any reasonable action that we can take
that has a slight prospect of success ... a refusal to
understand and admit to the past is dangerous for the future."
I couldn't put it better myself – and I do have a very direct
idea. If official untruths were told about Lockerbie – if
skulduggery was covered up by the British and US governments and
lies were told by those responsible for our security – then many
in authority know about this.
I urge all those who may know of any such lies to write to me
(snail mail or hand-delivered) at The Independent. They can
address their letters to Mrs Irvine in an envelope with my name
on it. In other words, this is an appeal for honest
whistle-blowers to tell the truth.
I can hear already the rustle of the lads in blue. Are we
encouraging civil servants to break the Official Secrets Act?
Certainly not. If lies were told, then officials should let us
know, since the Official Secrets Act – in this case – would have
been shamefully misused to keep them silent. If the truth has
indeed been told, then no one is going to break the Official
So I await news. Ravers need not apply. But those who know
truths which cannot be told can have the honour of revealing
them all. It's the least Martin and Rita Cadman and Mrs Irvine –
and Bill and Sophie – deserve. As for a constabulary which just
might be tempted to threaten me – or Mrs Irvine – in a quest for
truth, to hell with them.
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