Lord Advocate speaks at 34th Lockerbie memorial service

The Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC delivered remarks at a memorial service in the United States marking the 34th anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie

The remarks were made to an audience of families and law enforcement officials at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, on December 21, 2022. 

"As the Lord Advocate for Scotland, it is a privilege and honour to have been invited to the 34th Year memorial service to remember the victims of Flight Pan Am 103.

I want to thank Kara Weipz, the president of the Memorial Committee and other committee members, for their kind invitation.

It is our responsibility to remember and honour the 270 people who were murdered on 21 December 1988. We remember them today for not only who they were but what they would have become – all were full of life and potential.

All were irreplaceable to their loved ones, had instrumental roles at work or in the lives of others. All were woven into the fabric of their communities as students, as parents, colleagues, friends, spouses, and siblings.

Since my appointment as Lord Advocate, I have welcomed the opportunity to meet some of the families of the victims, it was a privilege. I met Kara and her son recently in Edinburgh and I met some of you only this morning. The courage and strength of all the families is difficult to put into words – but I do understand what your loved ones meant to you.  

I first visited Arlington earlier this year in the spring, a beautiful time to visit Washington DC. 

The experience of that visit was deeply moving, the Pan Am Memorial here is sentimental to me and my Scottish colleagues. Reflecting on that visit, I was honoured to have met Karen Durham-Aguilera, the Director of Arlington Cemetery who shared the powerful history of “the Cairn”.

270 blocks of Lockerbie quarried sandstone were brought to the US, each block of the red sandstone represents a life lost, and each block was lovingly placed by Frank Klein, whose daughter Patricia was one of the victims. And engraved into the base of the memorial is the name of each loved one lost.

3000 miles away in the town of Lockerbie, the names of those lost to this tragedy are also forever etched into the marble of the memorial there – both are beautiful tributes to loved ones lost and both have had a powerful effect on me personally.

The Lockerbie Cairn at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, close to Washington DC. Photo: US Dept of Justice
PanAm Memorial plaque that reads “In Remembrance of the two hundered seventy people killed in the terrorist bombing of Pan American Airways Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. 21 December 1988. Presented by The Lockerbie Air Disaster Trust to the United States of America
The plaque on the Lockerbie Cairn. Photo: US Dept of Justice

On behalf of the people of Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, I pay tribute to the victims. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, their friends and loved ones. 

The criminal investigation into the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103, has continued over many years. I know that it has not always been easy for you as the investigation has appeared slow or to have stopped. It has never stopped.  Investigators and prosecutors both in Scotland and in the US, have worked tirelessly as partners together with the joint goal; to hold accountable those responsible for this atrocity. I am proud of the American/Scottish partnership.  

That partnership has brought together former and current Lord Advocates, Attorney Generals, Scottish and American prosecutors, the FBI, Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary, and now Police Scotland, as well as partner agencies throughout the world - all dedicated to the joint pursuit of justice. 

That unrelenting pursuit recently led to the beginning of the next pivotal step. In December 2020, the Department of Justice filed criminal charges against a third conspirator.

At the same time, our work in Scotland focused on defending Megrahi’s conviction and pursuing the investigation of Masoud. We increased the team with the fourth generation of prosecutors to have worked on it. Since my appointment, I have reinforced the Scottish commitment. 

We have spent considerable time with American prosecutors both in the US and in Scotland investigating all aspects of the Pan Am 103 case and preparing the case against Masoud.  

We welcomed the news that the US had taken custody of Masoud and that he had appeared before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on 12 December 2022.   

Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC with US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and Attorney General Merrick Garland
Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC with US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and Attorney General Merrick Garland. Photo: US Dept of Justice

I met Attorney General Merrick Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco this week. This was our fourth meeting with US counterparts this year, and I have provided my assurance that we fully and sincerely support an American prosecution. Scottish prosecutors will continue to work collaboratively with our American partners and friends to ensure a successful outcome to years of hard work and dedication.