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Obituary: Allan Francovich

Dr Jim Swire
Monday 28 April 1997 23:02 BST

It was not I, but Tiny Rowland, who persuaded Allan Francovich to make his film about Lockerbie, writes Dr Jim Swire [further to the obituary by Tam Dalyell, 28 April].

I first met Allan for lunch in a London Italian restaurant, where his facility with languages and vivacious enjoyment of the occasion revealed him as highly intelligent and widely read. It soon became apparent that he really cared about the human consequences of the disaster even more deeply than he resented what he had saw as, at the very least, a readily avoidable massacre of so many innocents.

He had already assembled a team, backed by the financial muscle, determination and world-wide contacts of Tiny Rowland of Lonrho, to make a film, and he needed to hear (and was profoundly moved by) the plight of the relatives. Thus began a friendship which we greatly valued.

Allan had worked for the Observer film unit and become known to Tiny, who selected him as his man to investigate Lockerbie, giving him complete editorial control over The Maltese Double Cross.

During the making of the film it became clear that there were people in powerful positions who were determined to stop it; the lives of Allan and other team members were threatened. Tiny Rowland, his executive Ken Etheridge and contributors to the film suffered grievously. This extraordinary exhibition by "authority", starting with accusations of being "Libyan dupes", and continuing with overt threats even of imprisonment, lent credibility to growing suspicions that something desperate was being concealed and that "the team" must be getting warm.

When the truth about Lockerbie is made clear, it may turn out that Allan Francovich's last film and his dogged following of its ramifications were his greatest contribution to the cause of truth in analysing the way that the intelligence services of the world's most powerful nation relate both to other nations and to its own citizens.

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