Iran blamed for Lockerbie

Doubt cast on `official version' of Pan Am bomb attack. John Arlidge reports

Iran, not Libya, paid for the Lockerbie bombing, a leaked US Government document has revealed. The document is the first official evidence that challenges the British and American assertion that Libya alone committed the terrorist attack. The declassified Department of Defense paper, leaked from the US National Security Agency, says that Ali Akbar Mohtashemi, the hardline Iranian interior minister in 1988 when Pan Am flight 103 was attacked, paid $10m (£6.5m) "to bomb flight 103". The operation, the document says, was in retaliation for the shooting down by the US Navy of an Iranian Airbus in the Gulf in July 1988.

When Britain and the US charged two Libyans with carrying out the Lockerbie bombing in 1991, Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, and the then US President, George Bush, dismissed allegations that Iran was involved as unfounded.

The leaked document will revive long-held suspicions that Libya was not directly involved and, instead, Iran paid Palestinian terrorists to carry out the attack which killed 270 people.

News of the leaked document emerged as Lockerbie relatives were celebrating a US Supreme Court ruling which clears the way for damages awards totalling £500m against Pan Am. America's most senior judges yesterday upheld the finding of the US Court of Appeal that the airline was guilty of "wilful misconduct" in failing to detect the bomb.

In a written judgment, the judges refused to consider Pan Am's appeal against a ruling that its security arrangements at Frankfurt and Heathrow airports were flawed. They upheld arguments by lawyers for the bereaved families that the airline had knowingly breached safety regulations in allowing an unaccompanied suitcase, which contained a bomb, on board the aircraft.

The decision means relatives' claims for compensation can now be heard in the US courts. Families are seeking awards of up to £7m from the insurers who are administering Pan Am's affairs. The company went into liquidation four years ago.

Relatives of the victims yesterday welcomed the court's decision. Dr Jim Swire, spokesman for British families, said: "This at last marks the end of an agonising seven-year struggle to prove what we have known all along - that Pan Am's security was a sham. Our loved ones paid a £3 surcharge on their tickets to cover the `special security arrangements' that the airline said it had introduced to prevent terrorist attacks. We now know that they had not even complied with basic US federal aviation safety regulations."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue