The Maltese Double Cross - Lockerbie
|This 1994 documentary disputes the Lockerbie Official Narrative, instead advancing the theory that the bomb was introduced at Frankfurt onto Pan Am 103A by an unwitting drug mule, Khaled Jafaar, in what filmmaker Allan Francovich claims was a CIA-protected suitcase.|
|The Maltese Double Cross - Lockerbie|
The Maltese Double Cross – Lockerbie is a documentary film about the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.
Though it was never widely distributed, the film stirred up a great deal of controversy – particularly in the United Kingdom. Reviews of the film in major UK publications were mostly negative, even as they said that the film revealed certain problems in the mainstream account of the Lockerbie bombing. The film came in for fierce criticism from some American family members of victims of Pan Am 103 and from the governments of Britain and the United States. Other (mainly British) family members endorsed the conclusions of the film. According to Lockerbie campaigner and former MP Tam Dalyell:
- "The American and British governments do not want the film shown. The American families do not want the film shown because they want their compensation money. More importantly, their lawyers want their money."
The Maltese Double Cross – Lockerbie discusses evidence and witnesses that would eventually figure at the Lockerbie bombing trial in 2000:
- The Mebo MST–13 timer fragment, which Thomas Thurman of the FBI's forensic laboratory said that he identified on 15 June 1990;
- Mebo's Swiss owner, Edwin Bollier, is interviewed at length;
- forensic scientist, Dr Michael Scott, describes Defence Evaluation and Research Agency's (DERA) 'forensic expert', Alan Feraday, as a technician without any formal qualifications as a scientist;
- A solicitor Alastair Logan criticises DERA's Dr Thomas Hayes for the forensic evidence that was used to convict the Maguire Seven;
- A former CIA operative, Oswald LeWinter says the appointment of 'Libyan dirty tricks expert', Vincent Cannistraro, to head the CIA's team investigating Lockerbie 'would be funny, if it were not an obscenity';
- A Department of Defense whistleblower Lester Coleman linked the bomb to a terrorist cell trained by CIA operative, Edwin P Wilson; and,
- A best-selling author, David Yallop, reviews the available evidence and looks at who might have been responsible for the Lockerbie bombing.
The documentary disputes the conclusion reached by the official investigation into the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, instead advancing the theory that the bomb was introduced onto the aircraft by an unwitting drug mule, Khaled Jafaar, in what the filmmaker claims is a CIA-protected suitcase.
Broadcast and screenings
The Maltese Double Cross – Lockerbie was to have been shown at the London Film Festival in November 1994 but was withdrawn at the last minute under threat of a libel action by Michael Hurley, a retired U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration operative. The London Film Festival noted at the time that "certain statements similar to those made in the film are currently the subject of legal action and, in view of this, it has been decided to withdraw the film." After the cancellation, director Francovich claimed that "there is no way in hell they're going to stop this film. It will be shown at film festivals around the world. It will make its way back to Britain." Some family members of victims of Flight 103 who supported the film expressed disappointment over its withdrawal. Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died on the flight, said he had "never felt so angry in my life" and Pamela Dix, who lost a brother, argued that "the festival should have been brave enough to show the film."
Several days after the movie was withdrawn from the film festival, Labour MP Tam Dalyell arranged for the film to be screened in the House of Commons on 16 November 1994 where it was viewed by diplomats, members of the press, and bereaved family members of victims of the bombing. The first public showing of The Maltese Double Cross in Britain took place at the Glasgow Film Theatre on 17 November 1994.
Soon after, the film was screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival where it won the Best Documentary prize.
The UK's Channel 4 had planned to broadcast the film as early as 1994 but apparently backtracked when several American relatives of PA 103 victims wrote a letter to a newspaper alleging that the film was partially funded by Libya and used a number of "confidence tricksters" as sources. After the Special Broadcasting Service of Australia agreed to screen the film in its entirety, Channel 4 re-entered negotiations with Francovich and reached a compromise to broadcast a slimmed down, 92-minute version of the film which cut material that could have caused legal problems. The shortened version of the film was ultimately shown on Channel 4 on 11 May 1995, but some American relatives of the victims again criticized the decision and accused Channel 4 of giving air-time to "Libyan propaganda". A Channel 4 spokeswoman said the decision to broadcast the film was based on the view that it needed to be shown to a wider public.
The Maltese Double Cross has never been shown on television or in cinemas in the United States.
The full 2-hour 36-minute version of the film is available here on YouTube.
Though it was never released commercially, the film garnered a great deal of attention in the British press, from the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom, and from family members whose loved ones died in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing.
After The Maltese Double Cross was broadcast on television, it received several reviews in UK newspapers, generally negative. Writing in The Guardian, Stuart Jeffries suggested that the complex argument of the film was "ill presented" and that "if future documentarists need an example of how not to make a film about complicated intrigues, they should watch The Maltese Double Cross." In The Independent, Thomas Sutcliffe noted that "Francovich wasn't exactly a dispassionate seeker after truth," and that although the film raised "some real questions about the official account... it didn't replace it with any reliable truth of its own." Lynne Truss of The Times noted that the film had an important and controversial story to tell, but that the "obfuscations of the commentary and editing were unpardonable." In 2006, Australian journalist and filmmaker John Pilger however argued that the Francovich documentary had succeeded in destroying "the official truth that Libya was responsible for the sabotage of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie in 1988."
Flight booking subterfuge
The Maltese Double Cross quotes Tiny Rowland as disclosing that South African foreign minister Pik Botha told him that he (Botha), defence minister Magnus Malan and 21 South African delegates were going to United Nations headquarters for the Namibian Independence Ratification Ceremony and were all booked on Pan Am 103. They were given a warning from a source that could not be ignored, and took the earlier flight Pan Am 101 to New York. This is the relevant narrative in Allan Francovich's film:
- "The South Africans booked on Pan Am Flight 103 cancelled just before departure. Along with Pik Botha, General Malan the Defence Minister, and General van Tonder, Head of the Secret Service, BOSS, and other senior government officials.
- "Botha, Malan and van Tonder confirm this change in travel arrangement to British businessman Tiny Rowland. They tell him the source of the information was of the kind that could not be dismissed.
- "Botha rebooks on the earlier flight Pan Am 101. General van Tonder and two other members of BOSS cancel their trip altogether."
Francovich's claim that Pik Botha's party had been booked on the Lockerbie flight was shown to be false by the now retired South African MP Colin Eglin of the Democratic Party. In a letter to a British Lockerbie victim’s family dated 18 July 1996, Mr Eglin wrote of questions he had put to South African Justice Minister Dullah Omar in the National Assembly. On 5 June 1996, Mr Eglin asked Mr Omar if Pik Botha and his entourage:
- "had any plans to travel on this flight (Pan Am Flight 103) or had reservations for this flight; if so, why were the plans changed?"
In reply in the National Assembly on 12 June 1996, Justice Minister Omar stated he had been informed by the former minister of foreign affairs (Pik Botha) that shortly before finalising their booking arrangements for travel from Heathrow to New York, they learned of an earlier flight from London to New York: namely, Pan Am Flight 101. They consequently were booked and travelled on this flight to New York. Mr Eglin went on to write in his letter to the Lockerbie victim’s family:
- "Since then I have done some more informal prodding. This has led me to the person who made the reservations on behalf of the South African foreign minister Pik Botha and his entourage. This person assures me that he and no-one else was responsible for the reservations, and the reservation made in South Africa for the South African group was originally made on Pan Am 101, departing London at 11:00 on 21 December 1988. It was never made on Pan Am 103 and consequently was never changed. He made the reservation on Pan Am 101 because it was the most convenient flight connecting with South African Airways Flight SA 234 arriving at Heathrow at 07:20 on 21 December 1988."
Mr Eglin gave the victim’s family the assurance that he had 'every reason to trust the person referred to' since he had been given a copy of 'rough working notes and extracts from his personal diary of those days.' In his letter Mr Eglin wrote:
- "In the circumstances, I have to accept that an assertion that the reservations of the South African group were either made or changed as a result of warnings that might have been received, is not correct."
Neither Francovich nor Ashton has published a correction to this "flight booking subterfuge".
Francovich a "charlatan"
- Dear Professor Black,
- For the record I must protest about your censoring of my previous comment on the supposed grounds that it was defamatory. Indeed your use of the words "my target" may give anybody reading it the impression I had made some wild or intemperate claim. Perish the thought. However it is not actually clear to whom you were referring.
- From material outwith this blog it became clear that Edwin Bollier, possibly through cultural or language difficulties, may have taken Patrick Haseldine's claim to be Emeritus Professor of Lockerbie Studies seriously and was actually seeking his advice.
- I pointed out for Herr Bollier's benefit that Haseldine is not a Professor but the proprietor of a tea shop. As a gag I actually wrote that he had used the skills he had acquired in the Diplomatic Service to start his own business. This is not in the least defamatory and I certainly didn't call him a liar.
- There is a whiff of hypocrisy here. You are quite happy to publish the most outrageous insinuations, contradicted by historical fact, by others. (i.e. Ronald Reagan and George Bush somehow colluded in the murder of Archbishop Romero.) Very often I point out where claims are demonstrably untrue. While I have denounced others as charlatans and fabricators or even in Robert Baer's case as an "aviation terrorist" this is not defamatory.
- However your concern for Mr Haseldine's reputation and your fear of defamation proceedings might be slightly more credible if you had not posted the comment "Patrick Haseldine is a liar."
- I take it the name Patrick Haseldine is not to be mentioned. While most followers purport to be interested in the truth I am as interested in claims that are untrue. However it is your blog but please don't insult my intelligence by pretending my comment was defamatory.
- You are entirely mistaken about my concern being that the comment was defamatory of Patrick Haseldine. Your comments about him cause me not the slightest concern. What does cause me concern is your reference to people as charlatans, one recognised meaning of which is "a fraud". You are entitled to believe and to say that someone is wrong, wrongheaded, misconceived, wilfully blind. But you are not entitled to say, at least on a blog which I publish and for which I have legal responsibility, that someone [Allan Francovich] is a charlatan.
Review by Barry Walker
John Ashton was researcher for the 1994 documentary film "The Maltese Double Cross - Lockerbie" about the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. The film propounded a "drug conspiracy theory" as the motive for the bombing, a theory which was been ridiculed by Barry Walker (aka 'baz') as follows:
- Having watched the version televised by Channel 4 before the 'Lockerbie debate' many times I found this version of "The Maltese Double Cross" fascinating. It is far longer than the televised version and is significantly different.
- I have long been a critic of "The Maltese Double Cross" and "Cover-up of Convenience" written by the film's researcher John Ashton and Ian Ferguson.
- I have no objection to the first 1 hour and 36 minutes which was, to be honest, really very good.
- My objection is to the introduction of the 'drug conspiracy theory' between 1.36 and 2.16, in particular the section 1.55-2.16 and above all the blatantly fraudulent 'hotel room scene' featuring Oswald LeWinter between 2.12.50 and 02.15 (which was longer than the televised version and mentioned the character 'Lovejoy'.)
- In the far briefer televised version of Steve Donahue's 'evidence' he is described as an 'undercover DEA agent' with no mention of his being a convicted trafficker. The section concerning 'Mr Goldberg' and his supposed meeting with Khalid Jafaar is greatly different.
- While some of the 'evidence' is this forty-minute section (1.36-2.16) is demonstrably fabricated, my point is that even if these allegations of 'controlled' drug deliveries is true, is it of any relevance to the bombing? I would also point that the only evidence in the film that drugs were recovered at Tundergarth was an article in Private Eye magazine for whom John Ashton works.
- I also note that the evidence of Linda Forsyth that Matthew Gannon was sitting in 1st class was expunged although elsewhere the film claims on two other occasions that he was (once in LeWinter's staged 'evidence'). The official version is that he was in Business Class.
- My central criticism of "Cover-up of Convenience" is that most of the book was devoted to 'proving' this fraudulent section of the film. Without their obsession with Khalid Jafaar (which continues to this day in the pages of Private Eye) Messrs Ashton and Ferguson might have written an important book.
- Indeed without the 'drug conspiracy' section "The Maltese Double Cross" might have been a good film. Pity Francovich didn't grasp the bomb was introduced at Heathrow."
The governments of the United States and the United Kingdom and their respective agencies strongly contested the conclusions of the film as well as the character and honesty of some of the film's participants.
In January 1995, Francovich claimed that new evidence (in the form of a US intelligence document) added further weight to the argument in his film that Iran had paid to have the bombing carried out, a claim promptly dismissed by the State Department, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and the Scottish Office.
Her Majesty's Government dismissed the document, which it said was highly redacted and based upon second and third-hand sources, as adding no new information, while the Scottish Office argued that it was an old story. The US State Department claimed that it had investigated a possible Iranian connection over the course of three years, but had uncovered no credible evidence along those lines.
The televising by Channel 4 of The Maltese Double Cross on 11 May 1995 provoked an even stronger reaction from official US and British agencies. The Guardian reported, for example, that the American Embassy and the Scottish Crown Office had apparently attempted to discredit the film prior to its broadcast. The embassy had sent a letter to The Guardian – and, the newspaper assumed, to other news organisations as well – which attacked the credibility of three of the film's witnesses and argued that The Maltese Double Cross was "Libyan-financed." The film's production company, Hemar Enterprises, was part-owned by the Lonrho affiliate Metropole Hotels which, in turn, was one third-owned by a state-run Libyan investment company. The Guardian noted that the Crown Office had made similar points in an official statement and argued that they had done so "in apparent co-ordination" with the American embassy. The Crown Office refused to comment on the specific allegations in the film because of the pending trial of two Libyan men, but noted "that the criminal charges in this case were brought on the basis of corroborated evidence supporting these charges and therefore inevitably conflicting with much of what is in the film." The Crown Office did publicly accuse one key witness in the film, Oswald LeWinter, of being a "notorious hoaxer" and another, Juval Aviv, of being a mere El Al airline security guard – not a member of the intelligence community as he claimed. Additionally, the FBI investigated the film at the request of the Scottish police and argued that LeWinter was "a major fabricator" and that overall the film was a sham.
During the controversy in mid-1994 over whether the film would be shown on Channel 4, filmmaker Francovich said he had been told that several CIA agents had been sent to Europe for the purpose of discrediting his production. Francovich also claimed that phones in his company's London office were tapped and cars of film staff members were sabotaged. He asked, "if we are doing such a bullshit movie, why are they putting all these resources into trying to stop us?" Press reports of the time did not provide any corroboration of Francovich's claims.
In a letter to The Guardian published after Channel 4 broadcast the film, Francovich offered a further response to the US and UK governments:
- "The attacks by the UK and US authorities on my film The Maltese Double Cross ("UK and US scorn Lockerbie film", The Guardian, 11 May) are exactly what we predicted would happen. The aim is to smear people in the film in order to divert attention from the mass of evidence that supports our claims....The British and US authorities insist that the Lockerbie case is still open. Yet during the months my team has been investigating the subject, not one approach has been made by these authorities to see any of the new evidence we have gathered. Is it any wonder that the Libyans are reluctant to stand trial in Scotland or the US?"
Reaction to the film from families of the 270 victims of the bombing was mixed. Some American relatives spoke out against plans to televise the film in Britain, accusing Channel 4 of exploiting the victims and of airing "Libyan propaganda", a reference to the allegation that the film was partly funded with Libyan money. One American man, Daniel Cohen, who lost his daughter on Flight 103 was particularly outspoken against the film, calling Francovich a "Libyan dupe" and "at best a journeyman film maker." A December 1993 Financial Times article revealed that Hemar Enterprises was owned by Metropole Hotels, controlled by Tiny Rowland. Shortly after the indictment of Libya in the Pan Am Flight 103 incident, Rowland had sold a percentage of his interests to the Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company (Lafico), controlled by the Government of Libya. This fact led the Cohens to the belief that Libya had backed the film. After the Cohens saw the film, Susan Cohen said that the film "was full of lies—I had expected that—." She added that the film "looked like an amateur production" and was "so bad, so silly, that I wonder if we had wasted our time trying to stop it."
A number of families in the United Kingdom – some of whom had seen the film screened in the House of Commons – welcomed the broadcast and maintained that they were highly skeptical of the mainstream account. Reverend John Mosey, who lost a daughter, said he had been suspicious of the mainstream line and that the film "justified, with a lot more information, what some of us have felt for three and a half years." Birthe Tager, who lost her son, said after seeing the film that "most of us think the film is the truth. I believe it is the truth."
Susan and Daniel Cohen, the family of American victim Theodora Cohen, said that Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died on PA 103, asked for families to "keep an open mind" about the production of the film, while other families opposed the production. After viewing the film in the House of Commons, Swire called for an independent inquiry into the bombing and argued that "the intelligence organisations of Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States were accomplices before the fact to the murder of 270 souls over Lockerbie, Scotland." In an interview with The Guardian in December 1993, Swire said that he "had good reason to believe Coleman's drug theories" even though they were used by Pan American World Airways lawyers to try to deflect responsibility from the company and "We may be faced with the decision of whether we want the money or the truth." The Cohens believed that Swire had suggested that the families of survivors who had opposed the creation of The Maltese Double Cross – Lockerbie were solely interested in collecting settlement money in the civil suit against Pan Am.
Daniel Cohen sent a critical letter to Swire; the Cohens and Swire have not had any contact since. In addition Daniel Cohen's criticisms about Swire's statements appeared in a 1994 The Independent article that referred to Swire's statements.
- "The Maltese Double Cross"
- "Unanswered questions and curious incidents over Lockerbie-film" Reproduced from Living Marxism issue 75, January 1995
- Koenig, Peter (11 November 1994), "Festival cancels Lockerbie film", The Independent, pp. page 5
- Williams, Roger (10 November 1994), "Families' Fury Over Lockerbie Film Ban", Press Association
- Clouston, Erland (16 November 1994), "Lockerbie Revisited: Families of British Victims Welcome Screening of Alternative Theory", The Guardian, pp. Foreign Page, page 12
- Kampeas, Ron (16 November 1994), Libyan-backed Lockerbie Film Gets Special Parliament Screening, Associated Press
- "First public showing in the UK, the Glasgow Film Theatre, 17.11.94". Retrieved 3 November 2009.
- "Allan Francovich; Film Maker Was 56", New York Times, pp. Section 1, page 14, 3 May 1997
- Clouston, Erlend (23 April 1994), "CIA Obstructing Lockerbie Film, Says Maker", The Guardian, pp. page 5
- Oliver, Barry (16 May 1995), "Film probe lifts the lid on Lockerbie", The Australian
- Alan, George (5 May 1995), "Channel 4 in storm on Lockerbie", Evening Standard, pp. page 15
- Jeffries, Stuart (12 May 1995), "Television: Flying in the Face of Adversity", The Guardian, pp. page T20
- Sutcliffe, Thomas (12 May 1995), "Accusations cloud the truth behind Lockerbie wreck -; review", The Independent, pp. Television and Radio, page 20
- Truss, Lynne (12 May 1995), "An important story, muddled in the telling", The Times
- Pilger, John (15 September 2006). "Truth shall set us free". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 28 August 2007.
- "Why the Lockerbie flight booking subterfuge, Mr Botha?"
- "Bogus claim by Allan Francovich"
- "South African MP Colin Eglin refutes Francovich claim"
- "Charlatans, Fabricators and Conspiracy Theorists"
- "Another Haseldine lie"
- "Francovich a 'charlatan'"
- "Not entitled to say 'charlatan'"
- "Lester Coleman, Juval Aviv, Allan Francovich and the 'Drug Conspiracy' theory" paragraphs 51 to 63 of "A Poisoned Pill - The Mysterious Life and Death of Ian Spiro"
- "Critique of 'The Maltese Double Cross' by 'baz'"
- Freeman, James (25 January 1995), "Britain and US close ranks on Lockerbie claim", The Herald (Glasgow), pp. page 7
- Norton-Taylor, Richard (11 May 1995), "UK and US scorn Lockerbie film", The Guardian, pp. page 2
- George, Alan (14 March 1995), "Channel 4 looks at Lockerbie film", The Guardian, pp. page 10
- "Lockerbie’s Tangled Web", The Guardian, pp. page 22, 13 May 1995
- Breen, Stephen, "Crown Office attacks new Lockerbie film", The Scotsman, pp. page 3
- Leppard, David; Burrell, Ian (7 May 1995), "FBI exposes documentary on Lockerbie as a sham", Sunday Times
- Francovich, Allan (12 May 1995), "The Lockerbie smears", The Guardian
- George, Alan (5 May 1995), "Channel 4 in storm on Lockerbie", Evening Standard, pp. page 15
- Douglas, Derek (27 July 1994), "Victim's father claims documentary maker is 'Libyan dupe' Bitter attack on Lockerbie film", The Herald (Glasgow)
- Cohen, Susan and Daniel Cohen. "Chapter 16." Pan Am 103: The Bombing, the Betrayals, and a Bereaved Family's Search for Justice. New American Library. 2000. 230-229
- Cohen, Susan and Daniel Cohen. "Chapter 16." Pan Am 103: The Bombing, the Betrayals, and a Bereaved Family's Search for Justice. New American Library. 2000. 234
- Cohen, Susan and Daniel. "Chapter 16." Pan Am 103: The Bombing, the Betrayals, and a Bereaved Family's Search for Justice. New American Library. 2000. 230.
- Koenig, Peter (17 November 1994), "Iran and Syria are blamed for Lockerbie", The Independent, pp. Home News Page, page 8
- Cohen, Nick. "Film claims stir Lockerbie row." The Independent. Sunday 6 February 2004. Retrieved on 11 August 2009.
- Lockerbie Official Narrative
- Cameron's Report on Lockerbie Forensic Evidence
- The Framing of al-Megrahi
- The How, Why and Who of Pan Am Flight 103
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