‘Personal’ piece requested for the Sun 24/6/07


Jim Swire for Gordon Tait


Following the brutal murder of our daughter, along with 269 others at Lockerbie in 1988, we were too shocked to face the deluge of media attention for weeks.


Then from the haze of misery it emerged that the UK government had received multiple and accurate warnings about what was about to happen, and had done nothing. My reaction to this knowledge was both astonishment and anger that my government had failed in its duty to protect its citizens – which for me of course meant Flora, our daughter – it slowly dawned for me that governments are so wrapped up in onion skin layers protecting them from people who actually only want to know the truth, that we, their subjects, can be treated as eccentric nuisances indefinitely.


That is particularly true of the seasoned experts of Westminster who can draw on generations of skills in ‘managing the people of empire’, so that politicians’ actions are made to seem to be for the common good.


Westminster passed the poisoned chalice of Lockerbie to Scotland to handle, and only on Thursday will we see whether Scotland has the teeth to bite the bullet and expose the truth about Lockerbie. Nelson Mandela said, while in Edinburgh, just before the trial was set up “no nation should be complainant, prosecutor and judge”. Scotland was not given the chance to avoid being all three.


Yesterday’s extraordinary allegations in the Scots media about the ‘management’ of the trial of the Libyans, seem to be based on ‘leaks’ but on Thursday we will hear what Scotland’s ‘last ditch’ legal body, the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission, has made of it all.


Brought up in Skye myself, I have many valued Scottish friends, and I know that there is much disquiet about what one newspaper described as the ‘incestuous nature’ of the Scottish criminal system, which some say, sometimes protects itself rather than the rights of its citizens.


For instance, with us at our press conference in Holyrood on the 28th June will be Iain McKie, father of Shirley who was falsely accused, and her career wrecked over a fingerprint, and where although compensation has been paid, there was no satisfying explanation as to how a gross and clearly deliberate campaign against her ran on and on, nor can we be confident that the factors that allowed this to happen have been routed out.


It has added to the pain of the tragedy of Lockerbie to have been aware for years that those who could have prevented it, and those who have handled the fall out from it, have not been working to provide the truth nor have they done all that is needed to prevent a recurrence. Yet it has been a great privilege to meet people like Nelson Mandela , Professor Robert Black of Edinburgh and Tam Dalyell of Linlithgow, during our search for truth.


I now believe that it will take a powerful and visibly independent inquiry into all aspects of the Scottish justice system to give the excellent and accountable system that the people of Scotland, and we who have been hurt by its failings, deserve.


I feel heartened nowadays to find a new feeling of Scottish pride in her nation and its institutions. We must see what good can be forced out of all this.


Dr Jim Swire (jim@swirefamily.net)