David Ben-Aryeah

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David Ben-Aryeah being interviewed in The Maltese Double Cross documentary
InterestsLockerbie bombing

David Ben-Aryeah is a journalist who is focused on the Lockerbie bombing of 21 December 1988. Ben-Aryeah was one of the first journalists into Lockerbie on the night of the disaster. He has received several major international media awards for his work on Lockerbie and was unpaid advisor to the UK relatives group from 1989 to 2001.

From March 1988 to March 1990, Ben-Aryeah was Director of Edinburgh's renowned gay pub the "Laughing Duck". The pub's co-Director at the time Arthur Colin Tucker was embroiled in a child sexual abuse scandal in 1992 and later became a butler at the Mansion House in Whitehall which is the grace and favour residence of the current Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf.[1]

David Ben-Aryeah has acted as consultant to a number of investigative programs on Lockerbie including the 1994 documentary The Maltese Double Cross.[2] Ben-Aryeah together with Lockerbie relatives John Mosey and Dr Jim Swire attended the Lockerbie trial which was held from May 2000 to January 2001 at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands.[3]

Critical comments

In August 2008, on Professor Black's website David Ben-Aryeah came in for some criticism from an anonymous commentator:

"David Ben-Aryeah (actual name David Yelland AKA Walter Mitty and claims to have been a bodyguard of former Israeli PM Golda Meir), was one of the first journalists (worked as a hospital porter prior to his incarnation as a "Journalist") into Lockerbie on the night of the disaster. He has received several major international media awards for his work on Lockerbie and was unpaid (oh really!! Unpaid maybe prior to relatives receiving compensation but not so since..what say you Mr Mossad Yelland) advisor to the UK relatives group from 1989 to 2001. He has acted (posed would be more appropriate) as consultant to many investigative programs on Lockerbie. What follows are his views on the Lockerbie aspects of the SCCRC’s recent annual report. What a slug and a complete fraudster."[4]

Ben-Aryeah's response

Dear 'anonymous', Given the deceitful and inaccurate blog previously posted, I simply have to correct your claims:

1. I have NEVER been called, or used the name, style or title, David Yelland.
2. Notwithstanding the excellent works carried out by hospital porters I have NEVER worked in such a capacity.
3. On the 10th of March 1986 (nearly 3 years PRIOR to Lockerbie, I passed the rigorous membership requirements, to be granted membership of the Institute of Journalists (one of the 2 governing bodies for journalism in the UK) and was issued with a Police 'vetted' UK Accredited Newsgather's Identity Card number 1066.
4. In May 1989 I was privileged to receive (In New York) the Overseas Press Club of America 'Ben-Grauer Award for 'best spot news reporting from abroad'. I can supply written details for the other 3 awards I have received.
5. I have NEVER accepted payment for my duties as Media Liaison and Advisor to the UK families Group. From 2002 I did receive three payments towards the over £138,000 I had incurred in expenses over the preceding 13 years. (The total received was less than 35% of that sum).
6. Your use of the word 'slug' is possibly offence to such creatures - but I have reason to believe that you have used that word to denigrate and comment on others in the past.
7. Your hiding behind the cloak of 'anonymity' is proof positive of your stealth and guile and allows all who read your words to form their own opinion as to your character, motives and accuracy.
8. Your abuse of the site and of the man who constructed it (who has honoured me with his trust for over 19 years) is, quite frankly inexcusable - all the more so give that the site is currently the only one in existence that actively promotes, impartial, objective reporting of one of the greatest disgraces of modern justice (or as events could demonstrate - injustice!)[5]


9. In respect of your abuse of the word 'Mossad' - for the record and the avoidance of all and any doubt, I have NEVER to the best of my knowledge or belief, worked for and/or on behalf of the HaMossad LeModi'in v'leTafkidim Meyuhadim to give them their offical title.
I may have met people who have (but they certainly wouldn't tell me if they did!) I DO, however, have a feeling thay they'll be less than impressed by your claims... but, of course, I wouldn't be in a position to comment. L'echraim Haver.[6]

Remembering Lockerbie

Marking Lockerbie's 20th anniversary in December 2008, David Ben-Aryeah was interviewed by The Scotsman newspaper:

"You will recognise me," David Ben-Aryeah says on the phone from his home, "because I am six-foot-six, built like an obese gorilla, and I'll be wearing a CNN baseball cap and a grin."
Ben-Aryeah is as good as his word when he shows up the next day in the lobby of Edinburgh's Grosvenor hotel. He is carrying just two from his collection of more than 100 binders crammed with documents pertaining to the Lockerbie disaster. He has gathered 14 filing cabinets full of material over the past 20 years, and keeps it all in "a very secure place". He is 63 and in poor health, and in the event of his death he intends that these sensitive papers should be made public.
Born in Edinburgh, Ben-Aryeah had served with the Israeli military and worked as a travel agent, but by the time of the plane crash was working as a stringer for a London paper. However, via a contact in New York, he ended up broadcasting live from Lockerbie to 11 million listeners on American radio. He filed regular bulletins for several days, broke the news that the crash had been caused by a bomb, and won a major award for his work.
The downing of Pan Am 103 was not just another story for Ben-Aryeah. The tragedy prompted a personal crusade.
"I made a promise at half past ten on the 21st of December 1988," he says. "I stood over the body of a young lady who had fallen out of the sky. She was lying on the grass, curled up, without a mark on her, as if she'd fallen asleep. I saw a lot of bodies that night, and I promised that if I could do anything to find out who had killed them, I'd do it."
Ben-Aryeah spent weeks at a time in Lockerbie in the year following the crash, gaining the trust of the locals, and then a further seven years travelling around Europe and the Middle East – at considerable expense (he has been made bankrupt twice) – investigating the case. He went from observer to participant, becoming a friend, adviser and spokesman for some of the UK families whose loved ones had died.
He remains close to Reverend John Mosey and his wife Lisa; Ben-Aryeah now knows more about their late daughter Helga than his own sister. The reverend is responsible for Ben-Aryeah's conversion to Christianity.
Ben-Aryeah denies that Lockerbie is an obsession, but holds in his head a level of detail, and in his heart an emotional weight, that must be exhausting.
His conversation is peopled by characters including "a fat, bald Palestinian terrorist with an artificial leg" and "a bagpipe-playing, whisky-drinking Swedish diplomat", and he clearly relishes the cloak-and-dagger stuff. But he treats Lockerbie with an earnestness that distinguishes him from your common or garden conspiracy theorist.
He also credits the disaster with making him a less self-centred person.
"I made friends in the flames of Lockerbie," he says, tears on his cheeks, "that humble me even now."[7]