Lockerbie campaigner Swire retires as GP to attend trial of suspects full-time

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DR JIM SWIRE, who has led the families of the Lockerbie bomb victims for more than a decade, is to leave his job as a GP to attend the trial in the Netherlands of the two suspects accused of causing the disaster.

Dr Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the explosion, will retire from his medical practice next month and go to Camp Zeist, a former military air base, where the start of the trial has been put back from February to May. He made the announcement yesterday on the 11th anniversary of the bombing, which took place two days before his daughter's 24th birthday.

A ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of Lockerbie was held in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, where Dr Swire practises, last December, and four months later, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, 47, and al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah, 43, were handed over to Scottish authorities at a Dutch air base. Dr Swire, 63, joined the practice in 1971. "I have given in my notice, because I have made major provisions for attending the trial and, having made my decision, when the trial date was changed I decided to stick by it," he said.

He added: "I would never suggest or pretend to know whether these two are guilty or innocent. We expect the court to provide the environment in which the evidence that is available will be cross-examined in detail. That is what we can expect from the Scottish criminal justice system - an expert provision of evidence and questioning of evidence. We want to see the evidence dissected and examined in every detail because we want to know the truth."

This year, for the first time, the group of British relatives for whom Dr Swire is spokesman have not held a formal service of their own to mark the longest night of the year in December 1988, when Pan Am flight 103 exploded over Scotland, killing all 259 on board and 11 on the ground.

"The group decided this year they would not hold a public event to mark the anniversary because everything came together last year with the 10th anniversary," Dr Swire said.