Diary: Fury over Libyan film on Lockerbie

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The Independent Online
The anguish endured by relatives of the Lockerbie bombing victims continues with news that Channel 4 is considering a proposal by a Libyan-financed production company to broadcast a documentary about the disaster. Among several theories put forward by the company is the suggestion that the Central Intelligence Agency knew that a bomb was going to be planted on Pan Am Flight 103 but failed to raise the alarm.

According to 25 relatives of victims - including British, American and one Swede - Channel 4 was first approached by the company, Hemar Enterprises, last September and had a further meeting two months later. 'We are astonished that Channel 4 would even consider purchasing a film about Lockerbie based on material from such unreliable sources and financed by the very government suspected of having bombed PA 103,' they say. A number have protested to Channel 4 and claim they have been accused by Hemar Enterprises staff 'of being in the pockets of the British and American governments'.

A Channel 4 spokesman said the company was aware of the programme, which was nearly finished, but would 'look very closely at where it's coming from, and this would be taken very seriously'.

A SUGGESTION for Neil Kinnock: go west, middle-aged man. The British electorate turned against him at the last election, but if those same voters had been American, the outcome might have been different. Escorting a party of Americans around the House of Commons, a guide spotted the then Labour leader, with whom he was on first-name terms, and hailed him. His party dutifully sank to their knees.


Notice to all those angling for jobs at Sheffield City Council: according to a memorandum recently sent to staff from the occupational health department with tips on recruitment, prospective employees should not be too fat nor too thin, since these types are more prone to illness or injury at work. Don't be too short either (acceptable height begins at 4ft 10in), because little people are unable to reach documents on top shelves.

What about existing staff? 'Well, I'll be fired for a start,' a receptionist said after learning the nature of the Diary's inquiry. The reason for all this (surprise, surprise) is a batch of European health regulations that require managers to assess potential risks to their staff, tell them what they are and keep a record of their findings.

A spokesman tells me the company has no wish to discriminate against anybody, but also 'has a duty to comply with legislation and protect the health, safety and welfare of our employees' - if there are any left by then.

SIR EDWARD HEATH is not the most emollient politician around, so it must have been with some foreboding that fellow conductor Leonard Bernstein collared the then prime minister at a No 10 reception, and, according to a forthcoming biography by Humphrey Burton, inquired: 'And how is your tottering government tonight?'


Just one British applicant, I'm not surprised to hear, for the following advertisement in the World of Embroidery: 'Wanted, iconographer in silk and gold embroidery . . . must have good knowledge of ancient Novgorod, Pskov and Moscow schools of needlework and their restoration. Must be fluent in church slavonic.'

With payment of a mere pounds 4 an hour for such exclusive skills, only one British embroiderer (from Manchester) applied, although the advertiser, Canon Kenneth Craddock, admits he only placed the notice to get the Department of Employment off his back. The job has gone, no prizes for guessing, to a Russian.


21 April 1925 D H Lawrence writes to a friend from the Del Monte Ranch in Mexico: 'The days here are mostly hot and sunny, but can be fiendish, with a grey stone-cold wind that blows out of some frozen hell. We brought up two of the horses, and the new painted buggy, and our two Indians, Trinidad and Rufina, trot out with us - we look such a bundly Mexican outfit. For the rest, I don't do much, but slowly wade my way through the sandy wastes of Doughty's Arabia Deserta. I read it on and on without quite knowing why. Trinidad brought up Miss Wemyss, our cat, in a sack. She was our kitten here last autumn. She emerged from her sack trembling and ruffled with a cat's farouche dismay. Then she began to creep round very slowly, and remember. And suddenly, after half an hour, she exploded from under the bed in fireworks of friskiness. She had suddenly remembered everything. The horses knew us too, perfectly.'