Does Magnus Linklater run his Lockerbie articles through reverse fact-checking software before submitting them? How else I wonder could almost every one he writes contain so many basic errors?
His latest piece accuses me of failing to address new evidence concerning Mr Megrahi's relationship with alleged bomber Abouagela Masud. No one reading my recent articles could have failed to miss the fact that I acknowledged the evidence's potential significance and expressed my wish that it be put before the court. I also set out the reasons to treat it with scepticism, which I suspect is Mr Linklater’s real beef. Being sceptical is not the same as failing to address, but maybe his software conflates the two.
Mr Linklater acknowledges that he hasn't looked in detail at the evidence assembled by Dr Morag Kerr, which demonstrates that the bomb originated from Heathrow, rather than Malta (the latter being where Megrahi and Masud flew from to Tripoli on the morning of the bombing). He doesn't need to, he says, because the evidence was considered and dismissed by the appeal court and Megrahi’s trial lawyers. Except it wasn’t. Dr Kerr has in fact gone far further than anyone else in considering the bomb’s origin. If Mr Linklater doesn’t believe me, I’ll be happy to send him the defence paperwork and copies of the appeal court transcripts. I challenge Mr Linklater to read Dr Kerr's book and tell us why it doesn't stand up.
Mr Linklater also asserts that '[for] a long time those who argued for the Heathrow theory placed a lot of weight on the evidence that there had been a break-in: a padlock had been cut, allowing access to a potential bomb-carrier. That theory, I believe, has now been abandoned, because the timing is not right'. Wrong again. The break-in may or may not be significant, but the evidence of Heathrow ingestion stands separately to it and has never been considered as reliant upon it. Furthermore, Dr Kerr, who is the most prominent proponent of Heathrow, has always said that the break-in was likely irrelevant.
Mr Linklater goes on to tell us: 'When you have a large and complex circumstantial case, everything has to to fit into a coherent picture. Picking one part and analysing it in detail is unconvincing if what you come up with ignores other contradictory evidence'. The trouble is, very little of the evidence now fits with the Crown case that he is so keen to defend. Mr Megrahi allegedly bought the clothes from a Maltese shop that were placed in the bomb suitcase, yet the evidence shows that he looked nothing like the purchaser and that the clothes were bought when he was not on the island. The Crown claimed that a fragment of circuit board found among the clothes matched ones in timers supplied exclusively to Libya, but we now know that it did not. Most importantly, the Crown’s central claim that the bomb originated from Malta has been destroyed by Dr Kerr. Take Malta out of the equation and Megrahi's presence there, his lies and his shady associations are irrelevant.
None of this has been properly addressed by Mr Linklater in any of his numerous articles on Lockerbie. Apparently it's okay to ignore contradictory evidence when it's the Crown case that is contradicted.
Dominic Brown wrote in his piece about Roman Catholic schools: 'As the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, commented after the overwhelming yes-vote in the recent Irish referendum on same-sex marriage, most of the Yes voters went to RC schools, and his church "needs a reality check"'.
It is worth noting what he thought was required in the light of such a check. He went on to say: 'I ask myself, most of these young people who voted yes are products of our Catholic school system for 12 years. I’m saying there’s a big challenge there to see how we get across the message of the church'.
In other words, he appeared to want teaching practices in Roman Catholic schools adjusted so that they would be more effective in training up people to go out and vote to have Catholic teaching enforced by law on the whole population.
I much enjoyed and appreciated Jean Barr’s account of the fiasco surrounding the BBC Scotland series ‘Secret Society’. I was a film editor there at the time, and knew and often worked with her late husband Brian, whom I liked and respected.
I was a witness to the Keystone Special Branch raid at Broadcasting House, and have a particular memory that illustrates my soubriquet. A couple of years earlier, I had edited a three-part thriller, and in an attic vault near my cutting-room there were stored scores of large film cans containing trims, spares, work-prints, sound tracks, paperwork and all the paraphernalia that required safe-keeping in case foreign language versions were later required.
Ergo, the plods sweated to remove every last scrap of material carefully labelled 'The Secret Servant’. Despite my valiant efforts to persuade them that hardly any of the material was in a form that could be projected, and that in any case it was not, I assured them with a straight face, related to their well-publicised enquiries, I narrowly escaped an invitation to Pitt Street.
A week or so later, the editor who had cut the 'Zircon’ episode returned from holiday in Europe to gleefully show his 'holiday snaps’ which he had taken from Swiss television news showing his own assistant removing trolley-loads of film from BH Glasgow under the eagle eyes of Special Branch; some if it bore the word ‘Secret’.
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