The Maltese Double Cross – Lockerbie

"The Maltese Double Cross — Lockerbie" is a documentary film about the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

Produced, written, and directed by Allan Francovich and financed by Tiny Rowland, the film was released by Hemar Enterprises in November 1994. [ [http://www.thedossier.ukonline.co.uk/video_cover-ups.htm scroll down to "Allan Francovich — The Maltese Double Cross"] ]

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 when acknowledging that it brought to light certain problems in the "official" 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 and, as recently as 2006, Australian journalist and filmmaker John Pilger 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." [cite web
last =Pilger
first =John
authorlink =John Pilger
coauthors =
title =Truth shall set us free
work =
publisher =The Guardian
date =September 15, 2006
url =http://arts.guardian.co.uk/filmandmusic/story/0,,1872153,00.html
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-08-28
]

ynopsis

"The Maltese Double Cross – Lockerbie" takes a critical look at some of both evidence and witnesses that would eventually figure at the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial in 2000:

* the Mebo MST — 13 timer fragment, which Thomas Thurman of the FBI's forensic laboratory claimed to have identified on June 15, 1990;
* Mebo's Swiss owner, Edwin Bollier, is interviewed at length;
* forensic scientist, Dr Michael Scott, describes DERA's 'forensic expert', Alan Feraday, as a technician without any formal qualifications as a scientist;
* solicitor, Alastair Logan, criticises DERA's Dr Thomas Hayes for the forensic evidence that was used to convict the Maguire Seven;
* 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';
* Department of Defense Whistle Blower Lester Coleman linked the bomb to a terrorist cell trained by CIA operative, Edwin P. Wilson; and,
* 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.

Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, former prime minister of Iran, lends his weight to the theory that Iran took revenge for the shootdown by the USS "Vincennes" of Iran Air Flight 655 in July 1988.

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 Agency 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.” [Citation
last =Koenig
first =Peter
last2 =
first2 =
title =Festival cancels Lockerbie film
newspaper =The Independent
pages =page 5
year =
date =November 11, 1994
] Some family members of victims of Flight 103 who supported the film expressed disappointment over its withdrawal. Dr 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." [Citation
last =Williams
first =Roger
last2 =
first2 =
title =Families' Fury Over Lockerbie Film Ban
newspaper =Press Association
pages =
year =
date =November 10, 1994
] [Citation
last =Clouston
first =Erland
last2 =
first2 =
title =Lockerbie Revisited: Families of British Victims Welcome Screening of Alternative Theory
newspaper =The Guardian
pages =Foreign Page, page 12
year =
date =November 16, 1994
]

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 November 16, 1994 where it was viewed by diplomats, members of the press, and bereaved family members of victims of the bombing. [Citation
last =Kampeas
first =Ron
last2 =
first2 =
title =Libyan-backed Lockerbie Film Gets Special Parliament Screening
newspaper =Associated Press
pages =
year =
date =November 16, 1994
]

The film was also screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival and ultimately won that festival’s first prize for documentary film making. [Citation
last =
first =
last2 =
first2 =
title =Allan Francovich; Film Maker Was 56
newspaper =New York Times
pages =Section 1, page 14
year =
date =May 3, 1997
]

Other scheduled screenings at students' unions in the University of Birmingham and the University of Warwick were pulled for legal reasons, as was a showing at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. [ [http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Senate/1158/LOCKERBIE.htm Unanswered questions over Lockerbie] ]

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. [Citation
last =Clouston
first =Erlend
last2 =
first2 =
title =CIA Obstructing Lockerbie Film, Says Maker
newspaper =The Guardian
pages =page 5
year =
date =April 23, 1994
] 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. [Citation
last =Oliver
first =Barry
last2 =
first2 =
title =Film probe lifts the lid on Lockerbie
newspaper =The Australian
pages =
year =
date =May 16, 1995
] The shortened version of the film was ultimately shown on Channel 4 on May 11, 1995, though some American relatives of the victims again criticized the decision and accused Channel 4 of giving air-time to "Libyan propaganda." [Citation
last =Alan
first =George
last2 =
first2 =
title =Channel 4 in storm on Lockerbie
newspaper =Evening Standard
pages =page 15
year =
date =May 5, 1995
] 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 film has never been shown on television or in movie theaters in the United States.

Reaction

Considering that 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.

Reviews

After "The Maltese Double Cross" was broadcast on television, it received several reviews in mainstream British newspapers which were 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.” [Citation
last =Jeffries
first =Stuart
last2 =
first2 =
title =Television: Flying in the Face of Adversity
newspaper =The Guardian
pages =page T20
year =
date =May 12, 1995
] In his review of the film 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.” [Citation
last =Sutcliffe
first =Thomas
last2 =
first2 =
title =Accusations cloud the truth behind Lockerbie wreck -; review
newspaper =The Independent
pages =Television and Radio, page 20
year =
date =May 12, 1995
] Similarly, Lynn 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.” [Citation
last =Truss
first =Lynn
last2 =
first2 =
title =An important story, muddled in the telling
newspaper =The Times
pages =
year =
date =May 12, 1995
]

Governmental criticism

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 had 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 which was promptly dismissed by the State Department, the British Foreign Office, and the Scottish Office.

Whitehall 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. [Citation
last =Freeman
first =James
last2 =
first2 =
title =Britain and US close ranks on Lockerbie claim
newspaper =The Herald (Glasgow)
pages =page 7
year =
date =January 25, 1995
]

The televising by Channel 4 of "The Maltese Double Cross" on May 11, 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. [Citation
last =Norton-Taylor
first =Richard
last2 =
first2 =
title =UK and US scorn Lockerbie film
newspaper =The Guardian
pages =page 2
year =
date =May 11, 1995
] The embassy had sent a letter to "The Guardian" — and, the newspaper assumed, to other news organizations 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. [Citation
last =George
first =Alan
last2 =
first2 =
title =Channel 4 looks at Lockerbie film
newspaper =The Guardian
pages =page 10
year =
date =March 14, 1995
] "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 U.S. embassy. [Citation
last =
first =
last2 =
first2 =
title =Lockerbie’s Tangled Web
newspaper =The Guardian
pages =page 22
year =
date =May 13, 1995
] 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. [Citation
last =Breen
first =Stephen
last2 =
first2 =
title =Crown Office attacks new Lockerbie film
newspaper =The Scotsman
pages =page 3
year =
date =
] 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. [Citation
last =Leppard
first =David
last2 =Burrell
first2 =Ian
title =FBI exposes documentary on Lockerbie as a sham
newspaper =Sunday Times
pages =
year =
date =May 7, 1995
]

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?" [Citation
last =Clouston
first =Erlend
last2 =
first2 =
title =CIA Obstructing Lockerbie Film, Says Maker
newspaper =The Guardian
pages =page 5
year =
date =April 23, 1994
] 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", May 11) 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?" [Citation
last =Francovich
first =Allan
last2 =
first2 =
title =The Lockerbie smears
newspaper =The Guardian
pages =
year =
date =May 12, 1995
]

Victims' families

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. [Citation
last =George
first =Alan
last2 =
first2 =
title =Channel 4 in storm on Lockerbie
newspaper =Evening Standard
pages =page 15
year =
date =May 5, 1995
] 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." [Citation
last =Douglas
first =Derek
last2 =
first2 =
title =Victim's father claims documentary maker is 'Libyan dupe' Bitter attack on Lockerbie film
newspaper =The Herald (Glasgow)
pages =
year =
date =July 27, 1994
]

On the other hand, 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 "official" account. Reverend John Mosey, who lost a daughter, said he had been suspicious of the official 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." [Citation
last =Clouston
first =Erland
last2 =
first2 =
title =Lockerbie Revisited: Families of British Victims Welcome Screening of Alternative Theory
newspaper =The Guardian
pages =Foreign Page, page 12
year =
date =November 16, 1994
] After viewing the film in the House of Commons, Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died on PA 103, 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." [Citation
last =Koenig
first =Peter
last2 =
first2 =
title =Iran and Syria are blamed for Lockerbie
newspaper =The Independent
pages =Home News Page, page 8
year =
date =November 17, 1994
]

Film's revelations

The film put into the public domain a number of previously unreported revelations about the Lockerbie bombing, two of which are cited below.

Controversial statement

In September 1989, President Bush senior appointed a commission to review and report on aviation security and terrorism in the wake of the Lockerbie bombing. Before submitting their report, the president's commissioners met a group of British PA 103 relatives at the U.S. embassy in London on February 12, 1990. Twelve years later, on July 11, 2002, Scottish M.P. Tam Dalyell reminded the House of Commons of a controversial statement made at that 1990 embassy meeting by one of the commissioners to British relative, Martin Cadman:

"Your government and ours know exactly what happened. But they're never going to tell."

Mr Cadman revealed his 1990 encounter with the unidentified commissioner in "The Maltese Double Cross – Lockerbie" film, and the commissioner's remarks were subsequently published in both "The Guardian" of July 29, 1995, and a special report from "Private Eye" magazine entitled "Lockerbie, the flight from justice" May/June 2001. Dalyell asserted in Parliament that the U.S. commissioner's statement had never been refuted.

outh African connection

Tiny Rowland's revelation in the film of a previously unpublished South African connection to Pan Am Flight 103 (a 23-strong South African delegation had been booked on the flight, but cancelled at the last moment) prompted the Mandela government's energy minister and former foreign minister of South Africa, Pik Botha, to deny in November 1994 he had any foreknowledge of the Lockerbie bomb. This South African link to the flight gave rise to another one of seven unsubstantiated alternative theories of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

References

External links

* [http://www.thedossier.ukonline.co.uk/video_cover-ups.htm Internet version of "The Maltese Double Cross"]

ee also

*Alternative theories of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103
*Lester Coleman
*Hans Köchler's Lockerbie trial observer mission


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