Father’s plea to Bafta: Don’t give award to STV film on Lockerbie

Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter in the Lockerbie terrorist attack. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter in the Lockerbie terrorist attack. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
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THE father of one of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing has complained to Bafta over the nomination of an STV documentary on the atrocity for a current affairs award.

Jim Swire, who lost his daughter, Flora, when Pan Am Flight 103 went down, has written to the British Academy of Film and Television Arts objecting that the programme, The Lockerbie Bomber: Sent Home to Die, has been put up for an award.

When it was broadcast in August last year, the film drew criticism from Dr Swire and SNP MSP Christine Grahame.

Both believe that the man convicted of the mass murder of the 270 people who died, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, has been the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

Dr Swire’s complaint centres on the film repeating the claim that the bomb had been carried on to an Air Malta flight before it was loaded on to Pan Am Flight 103.

He disputes the central thesis of the Crown case, which was based on the belief that a bomb had been loaded on to an Air Malta aircraft at Luqa airport.

In his letter to Bafta (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), Dr Swire claimed the film’s “facile acceptance of the theory that the Lockerbie bomb had been carried on an Air Malta flight (KM180) was actionable”.

“May I point out that this programme was based upon the official version of how the Lockerbie bombing came about and who was responsible, without any apparent attempt to question what we, as citizens, are expected to accept from ‘the authorities’,” Dr Swire wrote.

“As such, it seems that this programme could not be regarded as investigative journalism, which one would have expected from a documentary on such a subject.”

He added: “Indeed, I had occasion to write to STV about this programme, pointing out that its facile acceptance of the theory that the Lockerbie bomb had been carried on an Air Malta flight (KM180) was actionable.”

Dr Swire bases his “actionable” assertion on a civil case that resulted from a Granada TV documentary made two years after the 1988 bombing.

In the Granada documentary, there was a dramatic reconstruction in which a bag containing a bomb was loaded on to an Air Malta flight by a sinister-looking Arab, who then sloped off without boarding.

Upset by the damage to its reputation, Air Malta sued Granada TV. The airline’s solicitors compiled a dossier of evidence demonstrating that all the bags checked on to that flight had been accompanied by passengers and none had travelled on to London.

Granada settled out of court.

“I am a relative of one of the Lockerbie murder victims and I would strongly object to Bafta giving recognition to the STV programme,” Dr Swire wrote.

“Bafta (Scotland) might give an evening of joy to STV, we have a lifetime to face without those we loved, and we intend to get to the real facts, to which we have every right.”

An STV spokesman said: “We are confident that the STV documentary The Lockerbie Bomber: Sent Home to Die, reported the facts of the case, as legally established in court.”

A spokesman for the Crown Office declined to comment on specific details raised by Dr Swire.

But the spokesman said: “Lockerbie remains an open inquiry concerning the involvement of others with Mr Megrahi in the murder of 270 people.

“The Crown will continue to pursue lines of inquiry that become available, and as the investigation remains live and in order to preserve the integrity of that investigation, it would not be appropriate to offer further comment.”