“Exactly the same forensic scientists who produced the wrongful conviction of Guiseppe Conlon, the Maguire family and of Danny McNamee, and had been stood down for the role they played. Yet here they were. Without them, there wouldn’t have been a prosecution, far less a conviction in Lockerbie.”
“What shocked me most was that I thought that all that had been gone through on Guildford and Birmingham, the one thing that had been achieved was that nobody would be convicted again on bad science. But yet in the Lockerbie case, it isn’t just the same bad science, it is the same bad scientists.”
Gareth Peirce — Solicitor for the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six
A self-confessed IRA bomb maker who has said he was part of the group responsible for the Birmingham pub bombings has issued an apology. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
Twenty-one people were killed on 21 November 1974 when bombs exploded in two city centre pubs. Six innocent men were wrongfully convicted. Unfortunately, this miscarriage of justice is not an isolated case. And the reasons behind these infamous miscarriages of justice are often the same: bad forensic science and bad forensic scientists.
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Several official inquiries into the wrongful conviction and imprisonment of Judith Ward, The Guildford Four, the Birmingham Six, The Maguire Family, Danny MacNamee, the Gibraltar shootings of three IRA members and the cases of John Berry and Hassan Assali, heavily criticised RARDE, Dr Thomas Hayes and Allen Feraday in particular for basic errors and for being rigid and dogmatic in his evidence.
Dr Hayes and Feraday were employed at the Royal Armament Research Development Establishment (RARDE). In 1995, RARDE was subsumed into the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA). In 2001, part of DERA became the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).
Feraday’s involvement in the Lockerbie case, together with that of Thomas Hayes, is crucial. While Hayes is credited by many as the expert who found the all-important PT35B fragment, it was Feraday who claimed that the fragment was “similar in all respects” to a MST-13 timer which proved the link to Libya and Megrahi. In fact it was, as we now know, nothing of the sort.
At the young age of 43, Hayes resigned just a few months after the discovery of the ‘Lockerbie’ timer fragment.
Based on the forensic Dr Hayes had supplied, an entire family [The Maguire seven] was sent to jail in 1976. They were acquitted in appeal in 1992. Sir john May was appointed to review Dr Hayes forensic evidence.
“The whole scientific basis on which the prosecution in [the trial of the alleged IRA Maguire Seven] was founded was in truth so vitiated that on this basis alone, the Court of Appeal should be invited to set aside the conviction,” said Sir john May.
Dr Alan Feraday’s reputation is hardly better. In three separated cases, where men were convicted on the basis of his forensic evidence, the initial ruling was overturned in appeal.
One of the senior judges presiding over the Berry appeal said in 1993 (some 7 years before the Lockerbie trial) that Feraday should not in future be allowed to present himself as an expert in electronics.
According to Dr Michael Scott (forensic scientist) — who was interviewed in the documentary “The Maltese Double Cross – Lockerbie” — Feraday has no formal qualifications as a scientist.
Gareth Peirce On Megrahi & Lockerbie
Peirce says that the construction and maintenance of the discredited case against Megrahi has required active participation from those at all levels of the criminal justice system, with both tacit and overt support from the top of the political hierarchy.
“In the most notorious cases, everyone played their part, absolutely everybody,” she says.
“A big part of the blame lies within those who form the criminal justice system. It looks as if in the prosecution of the Lockerbie case, the defendants met the same fate, even to the extent of the same personnel featuring, in the person of the forensic scientists.”
The principal forensic analyst, Thomas Hayes, employed by the Crown to testify against Abdelbaset Al Megrahi was the same discredited analyst who was proven to have fabricated his evidence in the manufactured case against the Guildford Four.
He and Alan Feraday testified that the key forensic evidence, a fragment of circuit board, survived the explosion of Pan Am 103 and left traces of clothing connected to a shop in Malta. The owners of that shop provided the identification of Megrahi to the court, and were later found to have been paid in millions of dollars for their testimony. This testimony has been widely discredited …
“That was the most shocking revelation to me,” Peirce says.
About Allen W Feraday OBE
Born 23 December 1937 — Retired 1995
Former Head of the Forensic Explosives Laboratory, EC3, at the Royal Armaments Research and Development Establishment (RARDE) of the Ministry of defence (MoD). RARDE was renamed Defence Research Establishment (DRE) in 1991 and was again renamed, as Defence and Evaluation Research Agency (DERA) in 1995.
Feraday had previously been number two at the explosives lab under Dr Thomas Hayes until Hayes resigned in 1989. Hayes and Feraday produced in 1991 the Joint Report into the forensics of the Lockerbie case which provided so much of the evidence which resulted in the conviction of Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi.
Although he has no formal qualifications in science, other than a low-level technician’s Higher National Certificate, Allen Feraday had gained many years of experience in forensic investigation of high-profile terrorism-related cases.
Unfortunately, his work on many of those cases and the evidence he gave which led to the conviction and jailing of several alleged terrorists turned out to be seriously flawed as case after case was overturned on appeal by the UK courts.
ITV documentary: The Birmingham Six: Their Own Story
On 21 November, 1974, the Mulberry Bush pub at the foot of the city’s Rotunda tower and the nearby Tavern in the Town, were both destroyed within minutes of each other.
Six men imprisoned for the attacks had their convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal, after 16 years in jail, in March 1991.
The Birmingham Six – Hugh Callaghan, Patrick Hill, Gerard Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, William Power and John Walker – were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1975.
Human-rights lawyer Gareth Peirce who helped free the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four is now leading the fight for justice for the family of Jean Charles de Menezes.
Here she is interviewed: I.R.A. suspects the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six spent years in jail before you secured their release. Do their cases offer lessons for today? “I think these cases were an object lesson in how not to do things. It was a very belated dawning that unless an entire national community and the reasons for the conflict were understood, and a political solution devised, there could never be an end to the armed struggle. Now that message has been ignored — there is a completely baffling and frightening failure to understand what motivates political Islam.”
So you see parallels with the current situation? “Speaking to one of the Guildford Four recently, his reaction is: “Those poor guys, those Muslims — that’s exactly what happened to us. Has nobody learned?””
The Guildford Four’s story was the subject of a film, In the Name of the Father.
In August 1975 they were sentenced to life in prison on the basis of the false confessions. The men were denied the right to appeal and forced to wait until 1987 when their case was referred to the Court of Appeal, after new evidence emerged, before being rejected.
Public protests kept the case in the spotlight until August 1990 when forensic investigations showed their confessions had been tampered with.
IRA suspect issues apology for the Birmingham pub bombings — “Bad Science and Bad Scientists”