In December 1988, I was living in a single room in a two hundred year old block of flats in Edinburgh that looked every year of its age. I was a student: I didn’t own a TV: and my only access to the Internet was via the university’s mainframe and terminals, and on the night of 21st December, I was on my Christmas break. The Lockerbie bombing was headlines in the papers next day, and for some time after that, and the source of the question airline staff are required to ask: “Did you pack your luggage yourself? Did anyone give you anything to carry?”
Lockerbie is a small town in Dumfries and Galloway, 74 miles from Edinburgh by car: the fastest way to get there by train is via Manchester. The Lockerbie Creamery has been making cheese and butter for more than fifty years, but ever since 1988 whenever I see “Lockerbie”, even on the wrapping of a dairy product, I think bombing, plane crash, death.
Three years after the Lockerbie bombing, I heard two men had been indicted (by the then-Lord Advocate, Peter Fraser: Baron, QC, and briefly a Conservative MP) and over eleven years later, the Scottish court set up in the Netherlands. A special reminder has been added to Scottish jury duty notices ever since, warning potential jurors that in principle they can be asked to serve in Scots courts anywhere in the world. Just over twelve years and one month after the Lockerbie bombing, one of the men indicted was convicted, 31st January 2001, over 11 years ago: Megrahi went to jail in Inverclyde, sentenced for life.
But for most of that time, there has been an awful niggling doubt as to whether Megrahi was actually guilty. Continue reading