Toby Luckhurst

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Alma materUniversity of Cambridge

Toby Luckhurst is a journalist with the BBC on their World online page, covering daily news from around the globe, writing features and editing video.[1] He previously worked as news writer, copy editor and reporter at a number of publications including the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and the Independent newspaper.[2]

Olof Palme murder

On 8 June 2020, Toby Luckhurst wrote a comprehensive article for the BBC entitled "Olof Palme: Who killed Sweden's prime minister?" in anticipation of an announcement to be made in Stockholm on 10 June 2020:

Sweden's collective trauma and obsession with Palme's assassination on 28 February 1986 has spawned dozens of theories and even a term for the fixation - Palmes sjukdom, or Palme sickness.

Apartheid South Africa

Eugene de Kock, a former South African police officer, claimed in 1996 that Palme was killed because of his stance against apartheid and for funding the ANC. Swedish investigators travelled there that year but could not find evidence to back up the claim, although some believe the old apartheid regime should still be considered a suspect.

Stieg Larsson, author of "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", spent years researching the murder and advanced this theory before his death in 2004. A decade later, BBC journalist Gordon Corera travelled to Stockholm to speak to Jan Stocklassa who had located Stieg Larsson's boxes of documents revealing the author's research into the 1986 assassination of Sweden's PM Olof Palme.

In the resultant radio programme, Corera described how the documents pointed to the role of various secret services, to questions about elements of the Stockholm police, to South African dirty tricks, and ultimately back to Britain, where he interviewed Duncan Campbell. Named in the programme by Corera as murder suspects were Bertil Wedin and Craig Williamson.[3]

Skandia man

Another possible lead is the so-called Skandia man. Stig Engström - an employee at Skandia insurance company, headquartered near to the murder scene - was one of about 20 people to witness the assassination. He killed himself in 2000.

Police reportedly began investigating Engstrom in 2018. A 12-year investigation by Swedish journalist Thomas Pettersson first identified him as a suspect, alleging he had had weapons training and was friends with a man who owned a gun collection and had a fascination with Magnum revolvers.

He was also shown to have lied about his time at the murder scene - claiming he tried to resuscitate the prime minister, which he had not.

"Many Swedes believe that Engstrom will be used as a scapegoat," Dr Jan Bondeson, author of Blood on the Snow: The Killing of Olof Palme, said. "But he was a very short and insignificant looking person, whereas the murderer was tall and strong. And he never killed anybody before or after."

Ultimately, Dr Bondeson does not believe much will come of the announcement. "I think it will end up as a damp squib! But we will see."[4]

Allied bombing of Dresden

In February 2020, marking the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Dresden by the Allies in World War Two, Toby Luckhurst wrote:

On 13 February 1945, British aircraft launched an attack on the eastern German city of Dresden. Close to 800 RAF aircraft - led by pathfinders, who dropped flares marking out the bombing area centred on the Ostragehege sports stadium - flew to Dresden that night. In the space of just 25 minutes, British planes dropped more than 1,800 tons of bombs, and more than 520 USAAF bombers flew to Dresden over two days, aiming for the city's railway marshalling yards but in reality hitting a large area across the city. The ensuing firestorm killed 25,000 people, ravaging the city centre, sucking the oxygen from the air and suffocating people trying to escape the flames.

The city was a major industrial and transportation hub. Scores of factories provided munitions, aircraft parts and other supplies for the Nazi war effort. Troops, tanks and artillery travelled through Dresden by train and by road. Hundreds of thousands of German refugees fleeing the fighting had also arrived in the city.

At the time, the Royal Air Force (RAF) said it was the largest German city yet to be bombed. Air chiefs decided an attack on Dresden could help their Soviet allies - by stopping Nazi troop movements but also by disrupting the German evacuations from the east. But the bombing has become one of the most controversial Allied acts of World War Two. Some have questioned the military value of Dresden. Even British Prime Minister Winston Churchill expressed doubts immediately after the attack:

"It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed," he wrote in a memo. "The destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing."[5]