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Issue 1246

The Libya ‘link’
So was Libya even involved in the Lockerbie bombing? The answer is that nobody knows. Libya certainly had a grim record in state-sponsored terrorism, but there was scant evidence to link it directly to Lockerbie at the Zeist trial. The links to Libya came from the suggestion that a fragment of a timing device which survived the blast was an MST-13 timer produced by a Swiss company, Mebo, which had supplied some to Libya. But it had also supplied them to East Germany; and in any event Libya could have sold them on. Libya could well have had links with the PFLP and PPF cells; but again there was no evidence of such a link.

So why, then, was all this evidence against the Syrian- and Iranian-backed PFLP and PPF ignored? As Paul Foot explained in Private Eye’s special report, Lockerbie: The Flight from Justice, initially they were pursued - for a solid 18 months, right up to the point of announcing that arrests were imminent. Then suddenly the political mood in the Middle East changed dramatically. Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and the US/UN forces needed Arab support beyond their usual friends in Egypt. The Syrians were themselves worried about Hussein’s expansion in the area, and in November 1990 deals were signed to both neutralize Iran and to bring Syrian forces into the combined operation known as Desert Storm to reclaim Kuwait.

As Paul Foot described it, Lockerbie was to be played down and President Bush snr declared: “Syria took a bum rap on this.” No wonder no one now wants a public inquiry and the question remains: who was really behind the biggest ever terrorist atrocity on British soil?

Why the wrong man was in the dock »

Read Paul Foot's definitive account, Lockerbie: The Flight From Justice »

More top stories in the latest issue:

From closing statements, to the conflicting evidence of expert pathologists, a full report on the second inquest into the death of army recruit Cheryl James.

Too few regulators in the British Virgin Islands, Caymans and elsewhere mean pledges to reveal who really owns what offshore are just a charade.

The authorities may be useless at catching big tax evaders, but woe betide you if you’re a 96-year-old care home resident who’s never dodged a penny.

Campaigners won’t lament the departure of Scotland’s chief prosecutor as they continue to fight for justice for the one man convicted for the bombing.

NHS plc
Why no one should have been too surprised by the chaos that ensued when private firm Coperforma won a patient transport contract in Sussex.

Why George Osborne’s national infrastructure plan’s reliance on PFI Mark II is set to repeat costly fiscal blunders of the past.

The closure of 17 Edinburgh schools due to storm damage is a reminder of who picks up the bill when private finance initiative deals go wrong.

More than a quarter of the specialist ‘studio schools’ set up by the coalition have already closed – yet more are due to open, despite the warnings.

Why the finance director of King’s College London wants to keep the whopping salaries of senior university bosses a secret.

After a £136m campus refurb, lecturers at De Montfort University now have to pay a membership fee to have a cup of tea in the staff common room.

To read more from issue 1246 you can order a copy from our archive of back issues here. For all the latest news you can subscribe here and have the magazine delivered to your home every fortnight.

Next issue on sale: 10th May 2016.
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10th May 2016
In This Issue private eye

Royal 90th Birthday Gnomemart… Don’t Put Hard-Fought Austerity at Risk, pleads Osborne… The Big Bumper President Erdogan Joke Book… Prince William Confronts Work-Shy BBC Royal Corr Nicholas Witchell… Fresh Sightings of Maddie Stories ‘Give Hope’ to Daily Express Editors… Arianna Huffington: The Sleep Revolution, as told to Craig Brown

And also...

- Deepcut: Full report on the inquest into the death of army recruit Cheryl James.
- BVI update: Why the pledge to learn who owns what offshore is a charade.

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Private Eye Issue 1416