Alex Constantine - May 20, 2014
By MARTYN MCLAUGHLIN
The Scotsman, May 4, 2014
THE father of a victim of Britain’s worst terrorist atrocity has expressed hope that a new film about the tragedy will aid his 25-year quest for justice. Dr Jim Swire, a veteran campaigner who lost his daughter in the Lockerbie disaster, believes the movie could be the way the “truth dawns” for the public over the 1988 incident.
The film is set to be made by Jim Sheridan, the six-times Oscar-nominated director of the acclaimed In The Name Of The Father and My Left Foot.
Swire believes the project will help bring into the public domain evidence which he believes casts doubt over the conviction of the late Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, who was found guilty in 2001 of murdering 270 people by blowing up Pan-Am Flight 103 in the skies above Lockerbie.
However, the decision to tell the narrative of Lockerbie through the central figure of Swire has been criticised by some US relatives of the tragedy, who believe Sheridan will be covering the “completely wrong story”.
Swire, 78, told Scotland on Sunday that although he felt “uncomfortable” about upsetting other families who take an opposing view to him over the circumstances surrounding the atrocity, he was compelled to “pursue the truth” in memory of his daughter Flora, who was 23 when she died.
Currently in the early stages of development, the drama has the working title of Lockerbie.
It comes as Swire and other relatives are preparing a presentation to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission to request a third appeal to overturn Megrahi’s conviction, more than two years on from his death.
He will attend a meeting in Glasgow later this week with members of other families and lawyers to decide when they will submit the request.
Swire said: “The film is important because it brings into the public domain more of the truth about what really could have happened instead of a package of lies clearly supported by US sources.”
He added: “This may turn out to be the way by which the truth dawns for the general public.”
Those behind the production, he said, possess the “skills, humanity and resources” to create a film which will “respect the depths of the many human tragedies involved, but also make us rejoice that love and the human spirit cannot in the end be overcome by evil”.
Although details of the film are being kept under wraps, it is understood to focus on Swire’s search for justice and is based on an unpublished manuscript he has been working on for more than a decade alongside writer and researcher Peter Biddulph.
Richard Jeffs, a literary agent who has been assisting Biddulph, said: “It’s true to say that Peter Biddulph and Dr Jim Swire have worked extremely diligently for more than ten years to create a manuscript and we are still seeking to have it published.”
Those behind the film have been maintaining a low profile, mindful of the sensitivities surrounding Lockerbie. But after Sheridan confirmed his involvement in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, some US relatives expressed anger at the project.
Kathy Tedeschi, whose husband Bill Daniels was a passenger on Pan Am 103, said: “It kills me to think that they would go off and just tell some completely wrong story just because they like the way it sounds or there’s got to be another twist to it.
“There are too many people, like the FBI and Scotland Yard, who investigated this case, and I firmly believe they knew what they were doing and they got the right man.”
Swire said he accepted the film would upset some families who lost loved ones in Lockerbie but felt he could not abandon the project.
“I do feel uncomfortable about making them miserable by pursuing the truth, but that’s what I have to do in the name of my daughter,” he said.