'US agent knows Lockerbie secret'

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Scotland's top law officer, the Lord Advocate, is to be asked to give diplomatic immunity to a disgraced American intelligence agent to uncover the part he claims the US played in the Lockerbie disaster.

The Labour MP Tam Dalyell, says the former agent, Lester Coleman, is willing to speak to Scottish police about an alleged security loophole set up by the US which resulted in a bomb being placed on Pan Am Flight 103 at Frankfurt airport.

The bomb exploded above Lockerbie after leaving London en route for the US on 21 December, 1988, killing all 259 people on board and 11 on the ground. Mr Coleman's theory of a connection between a drugs run from the Lebanon through Cyprus and Germany was the conclusion of a book about him by Donald Goddard, The Trail of the Octopus. The book is the subject of a libel action by another US agent.

Mr Coleman believes the bomb was able to be planted on the Pan Am flight because of an arrangement between US intelligence agents based in Beirut in 1988 and Lebanese terrorists. In exchange for information about Western hostages, the Americans agreed to facilitate a route for drugs from the Lebanon into the US.

Luggage containing drugs was protected by US intelligence with normal security restrictions on baggage at airports removed, allowing the bomb to be planted in a bag at Frankfurt.

Mr Coleman was indicted on charges of perjury and travelling on a false passport in 1993. He fled the US and is in hiding.

Mr Dalyell said he had written to the Lord Advocate asking him to bring Mr Coleman to the UK "on the promise of immunity from extradition to the US to talk to the police". He would not say where Mr Coleman was, adding: "The difficulty is that he is certainly threatened by US agents."