Alan Feraday

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Megrahi wrongly convicted, Carlsson targeted on Pan Am Flight 103

Alan or Allen Feraday (born 23 December 1937), former head of the Forensic Explosives Laboratory (FEL) at the Royal Armaments Research and Development Establishment (RARDE) at Fort Halstead in Kent, is a self-professed forensic expert in electronics. [1]

Although not academically qualified for the role, Alan Feraday was often addressed as ‘Dr’ or ‘Professor’ when he appeared as an expert electronics witness in a number of high profile terrorist bombing cases including Danny McNamee (1982), John Berry (1983), Patrick Magee (1984), Hassan Assali (1985), the Gibraltar Shootings (March 1988) and the Lockerbie bombing (December 1988).

Margaret Thatcher soon took an interest in Alan Feraday after his evidence in the 1986 Brighton bombing case where Patrick Magee was convicted, and was especially grateful for the exculpatory testimony Feraday gave at the "Death on the Rock" inquest in Gibraltar, when the SAS were alleged to have been operating a "shoot to kill" policy against three IRA bombers killed in March 1988.[2]

Following the sabotage of Pan Am Flight 103 on 21 December 1988, the director of the Forensic Explosives Laboratory Dr Thomas Hayes and his colleague Alan Feraday were tasked with the forensic investigation into the Lockerbie bombing. In the 1989 Queen's Birthday Honours list, Feraday was awarded an OBE and took over as head of the FEL when Hayes retired to become a chiropodist in the latter part of 1989.

Two years later, Feraday and Dr Hayes (who continued with the Lockerbie investigation on a part-time basis) compiled a Joint Forensic Report into the Lockerbie bombing. The report identified the only piece of hard evidence in the Lockerbie case: a tiny fragment of printed circuit board that Feraday maintained had been the trigger for the Lockerbie bomb.

On 28 September 1993, Alan Feraday’s reputation was suddenly shattered when, in overturning John Berry's conviction, England's most senior judge, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Taylor of Gosforth, commented that although Feraday's views were "no doubt honestly held", his evidence had been expressed in terms that were "dogmatic in the extreme", his conclusions were "uncompromising and incriminating" and that in future he should not be allowed to present himself as an expert in the field of electronics.[3][4]

In 1995, RARDE was reorganised into the less regal-sounding Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA), and ceased to exist. Feraday capped his 25 years working at the FEL and retired with it.[5]

In June 2000, how could it possibly have been that the main prosecution ‘expert’ witness at the trial of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi – who was convicted in January 2001 of the Lockerbie bombing – was none other than Alan Feraday?[6]

In October 2013, Alan Feraday was called a liar by Steven Raeburn, editor of Scots Law magazine The Firm, in a devastating criticism of Morag Kerr's book entitled "Adequately Explained by Stupidity?" about the Lockerbie bombing:

"Dangerous, suspicious Government-fed propaganda, based on the discredited Feraday/Hayes lies. Beware."[7]

On 6 February 2014, Professor Francis Boyle, author of "Destroying Libya and World Order", emailed former diplomat Patrick Haseldine with the outrageous suggestion that Alan Feraday be awarded a knighthood for services to British justice!

Expert witness

Alan Feraday has appeared as an expert witness at criminal trials leading to convictions in at least six high-profile cases, three of which were subsequently overturned on appeal. In September 2009, human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce wrote:

This isn’t the first time we have heard of Hayes and Feraday. Among the many wrongful convictions in the 1970s for which RARDE scientists were responsible, Hayes played his part in the most notorious of all, endorsing the finding of an explosive trace that was never there, and speculating that a piece of chalk mentioned to the police by Vincent Maguire, aged 16, and a candle by Patrick Maguire, aged 13, ‘fitted the description better’ of a stick of gelignite wrapped in white paper. Both were convicted and imprisoned on this evidence, together with their parents and their uncle Giuseppe Conlon, who was to die in prison. All were later found to be innocent.
Although Feraday was often addressed by the prosecution as ‘Dr’ or ‘Professor’ when he gave evidence, he had no relevant academic qualifications, only a higher national certificate in physics and electronics some 30 years old. Dr Michael Scott, whose evidence has been preferred in appeals to that of Feraday, commented that:

"The British government employed hundreds of people who were extraordinarily well qualified in the areas of radio communication and electronics. Alan Feraday is not qualified yet they use him. I have to ask the question, why?"

Alan Feraday, like his US counterpart Thomas Thurman, has now been banned from future appearances as an expert witness, but he had already provided the key evidence in a roll-call of convictions of the innocent. A note of a pre-trial conference with counsel prosecuting Danny McNamee (who was wrongly convicted of involvement in a bombing in Hyde Park) provides a typical instance:

"F [Feraday] prepared to say it [a circuit board] purely for bombing purposes, no innocent purpose."

The implication here was that anyone who had involvement with this circuit board would have knowingly been involved in bomb construction. That, in common with many other assertions made by Feraday, was entirely false, but it resulted in McNamee’s imprisonment for 11 years.
To discover that al-Megrahi’s conviction was in large part based on the evidence of scientists whose value as professional witnesses had been permanently and publicly demolished ten years before his trial is astounding. The discovery nearly two decades ago of a large number of wrongful convictions enabled by scientific evidence rightly led to demands that the community of forensic scientists change its ways.[8]

Caddy Inquiry

On 9 December 1996, a Labour MP posed the following Parliamentary Question:

Mr Kevin McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the names of the 14 cases, representatives of which have received notification that they are being reviewed as part of Professor Caddy's inquiry; and in which cases Mr Alan Feraday was a Crown witness.
Home Secretary Michael Howard [holding answer 4 December 1996]: The representatives of the following individuals were advised that their cases would be examined by Professor Caddy as part of his inquiry.
James Canning
Derek Donerty
Robert Fryers
Patrick Hayes
Hugh Jack
Denis Kinsella
John Kinsella
Ethel Lamb (deceased)
Pairic MacFhloinn
Sean McNulty
Gerard Mackin
Nicholas Mullen
Jan Taylor
Vincent Wood.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General will write to the hon. Member in relation to those cases in which Mr Alan Feraday was a Crown witness.[9]

On 17 December 1996, the House of Commons debated the Caddy Inquiry into the Forensic Explosives Laboratory at Fort Halstead.

Mr Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North): The whole House will be indebted to Professor Caddy for his report. He is a distinguished forensic scientist (Director of the Forensic Science Institute at Strathclyde University).
The Home Secretary said that he saw no grounds for referring cases to the Court of Appeal, but he appeared to anticipate that, when legal representatives of convicted people obtain copies of the report, they might seek to go to the Court of Appeal again on the basis of what is in the report. First, as many hon. Members have not had an opportunity to examine the report, will the Home Secretary tell the House why he feels that those people may seek to go to the Court of Appeal again?
Secondly, he will recall that, in a recent case, a senior official in the forensic science service (Mr Alan Feraday) was highly criticised for his lack of qualifications by, I believe, the Lord Chief Justice on appeal. Is that person involved in any of those cases?
Home Secretary Michael Howard: The hon. Gentleman was reading rather too much into my remarks. As I said, I do not believe that any grounds arising out of this report would justify any of the cases concerned being referred to the Court of Appeal.
However, I have learnt over a long period not to underestimate the ingenuity of lawyers. I said that it was open to representatives of those involved in those cases to make further representations suggesting that the cases should be referred, and that any such representations would be considered.
I do not have available a specific answer to the last part of the hon. Gentleman's question. I have no reason to suppose that the person to whom he referred (Mr Alan Feraday) was involved, but perhaps I can write to the hon. Gentleman on that matter.[10]

Commentary on Feraday

On 15 June 2000, Alan Feraday testified as an 'expert witness' against Abdelbaset al-Megrahi at the Lockerbie trial. Professor Black and Ian Ferguson recorded this commentary on Feraday:

As one of the Crown's key witnesses gave his testimony this week in Camp Zeist at the trial of the two Libyans accused of the bombing of Pan Am 103, one man, Hassan Assali watched news reports with interest as Allen Feraday took the witness stand.
Assali, 48, born in Libya but who has lived in the United Kingdom since 1965, was convicted in 1985 and sentenced to nine years. He was charged under the 1883 Explosives Substances Act, namely making electronic timers.
The Crown's case against Assali depended largely on the evidence of one man, Allen Feraday. Feraday concluded that the timers in question had only one purpose, to trigger bombs. While in Prison Assali, met John Berry, who had also been convicted of selling timers and the man responsible for leading the Crown evidence against Berry was once again, Feraday.
Again Feraday contended that the timers sold by Berry could have only one use, terrorist bombs.
With Assali's help Berry successfully appealed his conviction, using the services of a leading forensic expert and former British Army electronic warfare officer, Owen Lewis.
Assali's case is currently before the Criminal Cases review Commission, the CCRC. It has been there since 1997. Assali believes that his case might be delayed deliberately, as he stated to the Home Secretary, Jack Straw in a fax in February 1999:
"I feel that my case is being neglected or put on the back burner for political reasons"
Assali believes that if his case is overturned on appeal during the Lockerbie trial it will be a further huge blow to Feraday's credibility and ultimately the Crown's case against the Libyans. There is no doubt that a number of highly qualified forensic scientists do not care for the highly "opinionated" type of testimony, which is a hallmark of many of Feraday's cases.
He has been known, especially in cases involving timers to state in one case that the absence of a safety device makes it suitable for terrorists and then in another claim that the presence of a safety device proves the same, granted that the devices were different, but it is the most emphatic way in which he testifies that his opinions are "facts", that worries forensic scientists and defence lawyers.
In his report on Feraday's evidence in the Assali case, Owen Lewis states,
"It is my view that Mr Feraday's firm and unwavering assertion that the timing devices in the Assali case were made for and could have no other purpose than the triggering of IED's is most seriously flawed, to the point that a conviction which relied on such testimony must be open to grave doubt."
A host of other scientists, all with vastly more qualifications than Feraday concurred with Owen Lewis.
A report by Michael Moyes, a highly qualified electronics engineer and former Squadron Leader in the RAF, concluded:
"there is no evidence that we are aware that the timers of this type have ever been found to be used for terrorist purposes. Moreover the design is not suited to that application."
Moyes was also struck by the similarity in the Berry and Assali case, in terms of the Feraday evidence.
In setting aside Berry's conviction in the Appeal Court, Lord Chief Justice Taylor described Feraday's evidence as "dogmatic in the extreme", his conclusions were "uncompromising and incriminating" and that in future he should not be allowed to present himself as an expert in the field of electronics.
This week in the Lockerbie trial, Feraday exhibited that same attitude when questioned by Richard Keen QC. Keen asked Feraday about Lord Chief Justice Taylor's remarks on his evidence, but Feraday, dogmatically, said he stands by his evidence in the Berry case. He was further challenged over making contemporaneous notes on items of evidence he examined. Asked if he was certain that he had made those notes at the time, he said yes. When shown the official police log book which showed that some of the items Feraday had claimed to have examined had in actual fact been destroyed or returned to their owner before he claimed to examined them, his response, true to his dogmatic evidence was the police logs were wrong.
Under cross-examination though, it did become clear that Feraday completed a report for John Orr (predecessor of Stuart Henderson) who was leading the Police Lockerbie investigation and in that report he stated he was:
"Completely satisfied that the Lockerbie bomb had been contained inside a white Toshiba RT 8016 or 8026 radio-cassette player", and not, as he now testifies, "inside a black Toshiba RT SF 16 model."
As recently as May 2000, the leading civil liberties solicitor, Ms Gareth Peirce, told the Irish Times that the Lockerbie trial should be viewed with a questioning eye as lessons learned from other cases showed that scientific conclusions were not always what they seemed. Speaking in Dublin Castle at an international conference on forensic science, Ms Peirce said she observed with interest the opening of the Lockerbie trial and some of the circumstances which, she said, had in the view of the prosecution dramatically affected the case. She asked herself questions particularly relating to circuit boards which featured in the Lockerbie case and also in a case that she took on behalf of Mr Danny McNamee, whose conviction for conspiracy to cause explosions in connection with the Hyde Park bombings (another case in which Feraday testified) was eventually quashed. She asked herself whether the same procedures were involved.
Danny McNamee may be the most recent Feraday case to be overturned, Hassan Assali believes his case will be the next.[11]

Danny McNamee

Alan Feraday was the Crown's main scientific witness in the Danny McNamee case concerning a terrorist bomb explosion in London's Hyde Park on 20 July 1982, which killed four members of the Household Cavalry - the Queen's official bodyguard - and seven of the regiment's horses. The case against McNamee was based on the following assertions:

  1. Feraday testified that a fragment of printed circuit board said to have been recovered on the crime scene - but which had not been forensically tested for explosive residues - had been specifically designed to trigger a radio-controlled bomb.
  2. Feraday also testified that the circuit was identical to circuits recovered from an IRA cache where fingerprints of McNamee had been found on a battery.
  3. Finally, Feraday testified that those circuits had been built by the same person.

In 1987, Danny McNamee was sentenced to 25 years for the Hyde Park bombing despite pleading that he was innocent of the crime.

In McNamee's appeal, scientists far more qualified than Feraday exposed all three claims as utter nonsense. There was nothing specific about the circuit and it was very different in design and quality than the ones recovered at the cache.[12] In fact, Danny McNamee had a degree in electrical engineering and would have done a much better job. The presence of his fingerprints on a battery was easily explained: he had worked in an electrical store owned by an IRA member.[13]

By 1998 Danny McNamee had spent 11 years wrongfully imprisoned and, shortly after his release under the Good Friday Agreement, a judge overturned his conviction, deeming it "unsafe" because of withheld fingerprint evidence that implicated other bomb-makers.[14][15]

John Anthony Downey

John Anthony Downey's trial at the Old Bailey starts on 14 January 2014

In what looks like an obvious attempt by the establishment to rehabilitate Alan Feraday's fatally damaged reputation, senior Sinn Fein member John Anthony Downey has now been charged over the 1982 IRA Hyde Park bombing in London. Downey has denied all charges at his Old Bailey trial.[16]

John Downey, aged 61, from County Donegal was arrested at Gatwick Airport on 19 May 2013 and appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 22 May 2013 charged with the murder of four Household Cavalry members who were killed en route to Buckingham Palace. Downey's case was sent to the Old Bailey for a bail hearing on 24 May 2013 and a preliminary hearing on 5 June 2013.[17]

John Downey's arrest provoked a strong reaction from Sinn Fein who called for his immediate release. Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly said Sinn Féin member Downey was a "long-time supporter of the Peace Process" and should be released. Gerry Kelly added:

"The decision to arrest and charge him in relation to IRA activities in the early 1980s is vindictive, unnecessary and unhelpful. It will cause anger within the republican community. Clearly, if John Downey had been arrested and convicted previously he would have been released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. As part of the Weston Park negotiation, the British Government committed to resolving the position of OTRs [‘On the Runs’]. John Downey received a letter from the NIO in 2007 stating that he was not wanted by the PSNI or any British police force. Despite travelling to England on many occasions, now – six years on – he finds himself before the courts on these historic charges. This development represents bad faith and a departure from what was previously agreed by both governments. John Downey needs to be released and allowed to return home to his family."[18]

John Downey was granted conditional bail on 2 August 2013 to attend trial at the Old Bailey on 14 January 2014, where he will be represented by Gareth Peirce who famously represented those wrongly accused of the Guildford Four bombing.[19] If he has the temerity to appear as an expert witness at Downey's trial, Alan Feraday OBE should expect to face a withering cross-examination by Gareth Peirce.[20]

John Berry

Another case in which Feraday appeared as an expert witness was the 1983 prosecution of former Marine and businessman John Rodney Francis Berry, who was convicted of terrorism conspiracy charges on 24 May 1983, in the Crown Court at Chelmsford before Judge Greenwood and a jury. On 25 May 1983 he was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment. On 26 March 1984 the Court of Appeal (Dunn L.J., Stacker and Jupp JJ.) [1984] 1 W.L.R. 824 allowed the appeal and quashed the conviction. On 29 November 1984 the House of Lords (Lord Fraser of Tullybelton, Lord Scarman, Lord Diplock, Lord Roskill and Lord Brandon of Oakbrook) [1985] A.C. 246 ordered that the decision of the Court of Appeal be reversed and the conviction be restored. During the proceedings in the House of Lords the applicant absconded to Spain. On 24 February 1989 he was expelled by the Spanish authorities and arrested at London airport. On 12 October 1989 the Court of Appeal (Watkins L.J., Tucker and Morland JJ.) adjourned an appeal against sentence pending an application that the court could hear an appeal against conviction on grounds of appeal which had been argued but not decided in the Court of Appeal and which remained undecided by the House of Lords.[21] The case revolved around electronic timers, which Berry had supplied to a Syrian customer. The prosecution claimed that the devices were specifically designed for terrorist purposes and supplied in the knowledge that they would be used by terrorists. The Crown case relied largely on Feraday, who told the Court:

"As a result of an examination of the timing device I came to the conclusion that it was specifically designed and constructed for aterrorist purpose, that is to say to be attached to an explosive device."

Berry spent ten years in jail before his conviction was overturned in September 1993, when four highly qualified expert witnesses ridiculed the evidence that Feraday had given at the trial. Their views were summed up by Dr John Wyatt who had served 23 years in the Royal Engineers, spending much of his time in bomb disposal and counter-terrorist operations, and rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He said:

"As far as I am concerned this is only a timer, nothing else."[22]

In overturning Berry's conviction, England's most senior judge, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Taylor of Gosforth, commented that although Feraday's views were "no doubt honestly held", his evidence had been expressed in terms that were "dogmatic in the extreme", his conclusions were "uncompromising and incriminating" and that in future he should not be allowed to present himself as an expert in the field of electronics.[23]

In a recent development, the Home Office has agreed to pay compensation from the public purse to Berry because he was jailed on the erroneous evidence of Feraday.[24]

Brighton hotel bombing

Alan Feraday's evidence at the Brighton hotel bombing trial

The Brighton hotel bombing occurred on 12 October 1984 at the Grand Hotel in Brighton. A long-delay time bomb was planted in the hotel by Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) member Patrick Magee, with the intention of assassinating Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet, who were staying at the hotel for the Conservative Party conference. Although Thatcher narrowly escaped injury, five people were killed (including two senior members of the Conservative Party) and 31 were injured. Giving evidence at the Brighton bombing trial in May 1986, Alan Feraday said that he had examined hundreds of Provisional IRA bombs - so many he could not give a number. "The devices were deadly accurate," Feraday told the jury. "Of the six 48-day timers that had been set and recovered from Glasgow the worst was six minutes adrift and the best 10 seconds."[25]

Patrick Magee was convicted of the Brighton bombing, sentenced in September 1986 and received seven life sentences. Magee was released from prison in 1999, having served 14 years in prison, under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.[26]

Hassan Assali

Libyan national, Hassan Assali, came to Britain in 1965 and established a successful electronics company in Hertfordshire. In 1984 a disgruntled ex-employee told police that Assali was making and supplying timers to an Arab diplomat for use in bombs. The police raided Assali's factory and seized a number of timers. In an echo of his evidence in the Berry trial, Feraday later testified:

"After due consideration, I am unable to envisage any lawful domestic or military purpose for which these timer units have been prepared. I am of the opinion that they have been specifically designed and constructed for terrorist use. I am unable to contemplate their use in other than bombs."

In 1985, Hassan Assali was convicted of constructing electronic timers in contravention of the 1883 Explosives Substances Act on the basis of Feraday's testimony. Assali's appeal against conviction was rejected in 1986 and he applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission in 1997 to review his case. After an eight-year delay, the CCRC granted Assali a second appeal saying that the strong criticism made of Feraday in the Berry judgment 'applies equally to the expert evidence he provided in Mr Assali's case'.[27] An array of expert witnesses testified at Assali's second appeal that Feraday's central claim was nonsense. One of them was retired RAF Squadron Leader Michael Moyes, a qualified electronics engineer, whose report concluded:

"There is no evidence that we are aware of that timers of this type have ever been found to be used for terrorist purposes. Moreover, the design is not suited to that application."

In July 2005, Assali's 20-year quest for justice ended when the Crown informed the High Court that it would not contest the appeal. On 19 August 2005, BBC News Scotland reported that the criticism of Feraday's expert witness evidence in previous cases could have repercussions on Abdelbaset al-Megrahi's application to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission for a second appeal against his conviction for the Lockerbie bombing:

"After the first case, which took place seven years before the Lockerbie trial, the Lord Chief Justice said Mr Feraday should not be allowed to present himself as an expert in the field of electronics."

Alan Feraday told the Daily Telegraph:

"I'm taking legal advice and shan't be talking to anybody."[28]

Gibraltar shootings

On 7 March 1988, three members of an IRA active service unit were shot dead by the SAS on Gibraltar. They were reported to have planted a 500lb car bomb near the British Governor's residence. It was primed to go off the following day during a changing of the guard ceremony, popular with tourists. The three - two men and a woman - were shot as they walked towards the border with Spain. Security officers say they were acting suspiciously and the officers who carried out the shootings believed their lives were in danger. The three dead were named as Daniel McCann, 30, and Sean Savage, 24, both known IRA activists and Mairead Farrell, 31, the most senior member of the gang who had served 10 years for her part in the bombing of a hotel outside Belfast in 1976.[29]

In his 1991 book, David Leppard wrote that "Feraday first came to public notice during the inquest in Gibraltar into the deaths of three unarmed IRA terrorists gunned down by soldiers from the Special Air Services (SAS)." It was a controversial action the SAS explained by each of the three reaching for their pockets or purse, presumably to detonate a car bomb they feared might exist nearby. There were no detonators, no bomb, no other weapons. Just dead IRA members, murdered, some said. Leppard explained the role of Feraday’s testimony at the inquest was "giving a scientific rationale to the controversial decision." The counter-argument, accepting the apparent plans to build a car bomb, was that the three were too far from the car in question to have triggered it, and the SAS men should have known that. But Feraday claimed from his vast knowledge of such things that the device, as Tierney puts it, "could have been triggered from anywhere in Gibraltar, or even from Spain." Dr Michael Scott was called on in this inquest, and told The Maltese Double Cross:

"Particularly my experience in the Gibraltar case, one thing that struck me then at the time, very strongly - the British government employs hundreds of people, extraordinarily well qualified, in the areas of radio communications and electronics. Alan Feraday is not qualified, yet they use him? I mean, I have to ask the question why?"

Leppard noted how Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher took an interest in Feraday following this favourable inquest. "Clearly grateful for his efforts, [she] arranged that he be awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1988 New Year’s honours list."[30] Tierney reports that this was in June 1989, for "the Queen's Birthday honours".

Lockerbie bombing

Pan Am Flight 103 was sabotaged over Lockerbie, Scotland on 21 December 1988 killing all 259 passengers and crew, and a further 11 fatalities in the town of Lockerbie. Following a criminal investigation carried out by the Scottish police and the FBI, two Libyans were indicted for the crime in November 1991 on the basis of a tiny piece of timer circuit board which was alleged to have been found in the wreckage and which was identified by Alan Feraday, Dr Thomas Hayes and Thomas Thurman as having come from a MEBO MST-13 timer that had been sold to Libya. Both Alan Feraday and his RARDE colleague, Dr Thomas Hayes, gave expert witness evidence at the Lockerbie trial in 2000. Feraday testified that Pan Am Flight 103 was brought down on 21 December 1988 by a suitcase bomb triggered by an electronic timer made by the Swiss firm MEBO.[31] From a piece of charred clothing allegedly found at the scene of the crash in January 1989, Hayes teased out a tiny piece of timer circuit board in May 1989. The timer fragment was photographed at RARDE but was not tested for explosive residues. Feraday took the timer fragment to the FBI laboratory in the United States where Thomas Thurman was able to confirm that it had come from the MEBO MST-13 timer, twenty of which had been supplied to Libya.

Feraday's evidence

Allen Feraday, one of the Crown's key forensic witnesses completed his Lockerbie evidence today (15 June 2000).

In his evidence in chief ('Joint Forensic Report' compiled with Dr Thomas Hayes), he stated that the explosion, which destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 and killed 270 people, exploded 25 inches inside the fuselage. He went to say that he had pinpointed the precise location of the blast after a detailed study of the damage suffered by all of the cases in the same luggage container as the bomb.
Feraday went on to describe that he found at least 13 items of clothing and parts of an umbrella that were inside the Samsonite case at the time of detonation. It was on the second layer of luggage, resting in the angled container overhang - roughly parallel to the fuselage - or leaning upright, propped against another luggage stack.
During cross-examination by Richard Keen QC, Feraday was challenged on whether the bomb could have been in any other position than set out in his forensic conclusions, Feraday replied:
"I can't think of any other position." He went on: "I am not saying there isn't any other position, I just can't find it myself."
Later Feraday was asked about an earlier case in which he had testified, Regina v Berry. Feraday's evidence was the single most important part of the prosecution's case against John Berry. The Court of Appeal rejected his "expert" evidence and Lord Chief Justice Taylor described Feraday's testimony at the trial as being "dogmatic". This questioning went not only to the witness's competency as an expert but also examined whether his professional opinion had changed from the time of the trial in the Berry case and the appeal.
Feraday said he stood by his evidence at the Berry trial.
Richard Keen QC asked him if he recalled a report he sent to John Orr, who at the time was heading the Police investigation at Lockerbie. The report is startlingly different from that reported to the court this week.
Feraday stated in the first report that he was:
"completely satisfied that the Lockerbie bomb had been contained inside a white Toshiba RT 8016 or 8026 radio-cassette player", and not, as he now testifies, inside a black Toshiba RT SF 16 model.
Feraday was then challenged on his own handwritten notes and on whether they were taken contemporaneously or later. In some cases the official police log suggested that some pieces of evidence were not in Feraday’s possession when he claimed to have examined them and some were even logged as having been destroyed or returned to their owners prior to his examination having taken place.
Keen also asked Feraday to state his qualifications. Feraday replied a "Higher National Certificate".

Commentary by Ian Ferguson:

Undoubtedly Allen Feraday was an important witness for the Crown. His "dogmatic" approach in a number of cases is one of the hallmarks of his evidence. He is without doubt an expert at giving evidence, having done so often.
His evidence today under cross-examination though highlighted discrepancies in his note taking and raised again the issue of the accuracy of the police logs. Testimony, by police officers, early on in the trial showed that the logging of items was not as accurate as they claimed.
A few other issues arose today's testimony, regarding the placement of the bomb suitcase and Feraday's earlier report regarding the "white Toshiba." According to Feraday, he identified at least 13 items said to be from the Brown Samsonite suitcase, alleged to have contained the bomb. He pinpoints the location of the case down to the last centimetre, on the second layer of bags. Immediately below where Feraday claims the bomb went off, investigators identified a Grey Presikhaaf suitcase (belonging to UN Commissioner for Namibia, Bernt Carlsson). In the early stages of the investigation, Bernt Carlsson's suitcase was seen as the more likely bomb case. Police sources at the time said that this case was cleared of being the suspect case on November 23rd 1989.
To date not one item from the contents of Bernt Carlsson's Presikhaaf have been found. If there is a scientific reason why nothing has been found from this case, situated below the bomb case then it has not yet been explained in court. To a layperson it seems odd that the case adjacent to a bomb case should have no contents remaining, but from the bomb case itself we have an array of items. So what happened to the contents of Bernt Carlsson's Presikhaaf?
In his evidence under questioning from Keen, Feraday dismisses the entire Court of Appeal in the John Berry case choosing instead to stick by his discredited evidence given at that trial. His obvious scant regard for the Courts of Appeal coupled with his dogmatic approach to stick to his story must have deserted him when he appears to so willingly change his earlier report to the Police from being:
"completely satisfied that the Lockerbie bomb had been contained inside a white Toshiba RT 8016 or 8026 radio-cassette player" to as he now testifies, "inside a black Toshiba RT SF 16 model."
Perhaps Lord Chief Justice Taylor consulted the Concise Oxford dictionary before describing Feraday's evidence in the Berry case. It lists his description of Feraday's evidence like this:
"Dogmatic: adj. inclined to impose dogma; firmly asserting personal opinions as true. Origin: Dogma; a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertible."
Any one familiar with Allen Feraday's testimony in previous trials and in the Courts of Appeal will know that incontrovertible is not always an apt description of his evidence.

More on previous Feraday trials soon (see above).[32]


The clothing and the timer fragment led to the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi at the trial, and to his sentence of 27 years' imprisonment in Scotland. Megrahi's appeal against conviction was rejected in 2002 but he applied in 2003 to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) to review the case.[33]

Miscarriage of justice

On 28 June 2007, the SCCRC referred Megrahi's case back for another appeal on the basis that he may have suffered a miscarriage of justice.[34] The second appeal started at the High Court of Justiciary on 28 April 2009.[35] A documentary film Lockerbie Revisited, which was broadcast on Dutch television on 27 April 2009, focused on the MEBO timer fragment evidence and the role of Alan Feraday and the FBI's Thomas Thurman in its identification. Megrahi dropped the second appeal a few days before being granted compassionate release from prison on 20 August 2009, and returning to Libya.[36] Scotland's chief Lockerbie investigator, former Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Henderson, was highly critical of the decision to release Megrahi.

Feraday's failure

On 7 March 2012, The Herald reported that in Megrahi's official biography by John Ashton there was new evidence showing the fragment of circuit board found at Lockerbie was 100% covered in tin and did not match those in the timers sent to Libya. It also alleged the Crown's forensic expert at trial, Allen Feraday, was aware of the disparity but failed to disclose it:

"Documents from the Ministry of Defence Royal Armaments Research and Development Establishment, disclosed by the Crown just before Megrahi's appeal was dropped, revealed contradictory notes from Mr Feraday saying the coating was "pure tin" and then "70/30 Sn/Pb" (70% tin and 30% lead)."

On 20 May 2012, Megrahi died of prostate cancer. His relatives and some Lockerbie victims' relatives are reported to be considering reopening Megrahi's appeal against conviction for the Lockerbie bombing.[37]

Personal life

Alan Feraday is married to former teacher Gillian, who is eleven years his junior, and lives in Rochester, Kent.[38] Their daughter Caroline is a radio DJ and television broadcaster, who married lawyer Mark Lewis on 9 March 2013.[39]

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Private Eye rumbles "Haselnut" and The Ecologist

On 4 February 2014, Caroline Feraday (Mrs Mark Lewis) cited an article in the latest issue of Private Eye magazine about Patrick Haseldine's nomination for the 2013 Paul Foot Award, an extract of which reads:

"As well as aiming various far-fetched accusations over the years at people connected to the Lockerbie investigations and trials, Haseldine has also claimed that he was 'nominated' for last year’s Private Eye Paul Foot Award – by which he meant he had in fact submitted his own material for consideration."[40]

Caroline Feraday then tweeted to Patrick Haseldine (@BerntCarlsson), as follows:

Have you nominated yourself for 'Twat of the Year' too?[41]

Mark Lewis, having favorited his wife's tweet and retweeted it to his 3,481 Twitter followers, thoughtfully added his own tweet:

Lockerbie: Private Eye rumbles "Haselnut" and The Ecologist:
Why tweet as @BerntCarlsson when #Haselnut would be apt?[42]

In response to Mr and Mrs Lewis, Patrick Haseldine tweeted:

"#TwatOfTheYear" is preferable to "#OdiousBombExpert" awarded to your dad #AlanFeraday ( #Lockerbie [43]
@MarkLewisLawyer Nice nickname @BerntCarlsson remains the highest profile #Lockerbie victim ( failed by #AlanFeraday[44]

See also

External links


  1. "The Forensic Files (part 1)"
  2. "'Gibraltar', a New Play: a Look at 'Death On The Rock' 25 Years On"
  3. Appeal Judgment in the case of John Berry, 28 September 1993
  4. “'Doubts' over Lockerbie evidence”
  5. "Introducing Allen Feraday"
  6. “June 13th 2000 Testimony of Allen Feraday”
  7. @MrStevenRaeburn
  8. "The Framing of al-Megrahi"
  9. "PQ on the Caddy Inquiry" (1996-12-09)
  10. "Caddy Inquiry: Forensic Explosives Laboratory"
  11. "Commentary on Feraday"
  12. Dr Michael Scott report on the McNamee case
  13. "Alan Feraday and the Evidence of the Lockerbie Trial"
  14. Appeal Judgment in the case of Gilbert McNamee
  15. "McNamee's 11-year campaign for justice "
  16. "IRA Hyde Park bomb: John Downey denies murder"
  17. "John Anthony Downey in court over 1982 IRA Hyde Park bombing"
  19. "IRA bomb accused John Downey granted bail"
  20. Gareth Peirce's critique of Alan Feraday OBE
  21. "Regina v Berry"
  22. Report by Dr John Wyatt for the Appeal of John Berry
  23. Appeal Judgment in the case of John Berry, 28 September 1993
  24. "Alan Feraday and the evidence of the Lockerbie trial" Ludwig de Braekeleer, Canada Free Press Retrieved on 2009-05-14
  25. "Bomb expert links hotel device to Glasgow cache"
  26. "Outrage as Brighton bomber freed"
  27. "Commission refers conviction of Mr Hassan Assali to Court of Appeal" (2003-04-19)
  28. "Trial doubts may free Lockerbie Libyan"
  29. "IRA gang shot dead in Gibraltar"
  30. Leppard, David. "On the Trail of Terror: The Inside Story of the Lockerbie Investigation" London, Jonathan Cape. 1991. 221 pages.
  31. "Lockerbie bomb 'in suitcase'" BBC News (2000-06-15)
  32. "Feraday's Evidence - The Final Day"
  33. "Lockerbie terror bomber's conviction thrown into doubt" Edinburgh Evening News, Lucy Christie (2005-08-19)
  34. "Re-Opening the Lockerbie Tragedy" TIME Laura Blue
  35. "Lockerbie bomber Megrahi may be allowed home" Jason Allardyce; Mark Macaskill (2009-05-10)
  36. "Lockerbie bomber freed from jail"
  37. "Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi reported dead in Libya"
  38. "Caroline Feraday and mum Gillian"
  39. "DJ Caroline Feraday's brief encounter"
  40. "Private Eye rumbles 'Haselnut' and The Ecologist"
  41. "Have you nominated yourself for 'Twat of the Year' too?"
  42. "Why tweet as @BerntCarlsson when #Haselnut would be apt?"
  43. "Odious Bomb Expert"
  44. "Highest profile Pan Am Flight 103 victim"