Feraday's Evidence -The Final Day

Allen Feraday, one of the Crown's key forensic witnesses completed his evidence today.

In his evidence in chief, 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 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

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 Gray Presikhaaf suitcase.

In the early stages of the investigation, this 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 this 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 the 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.