Over the last few years there have been a number of egregious cases of police and state cover-ups in the UK around the deaths and wrongful prosecutions of innocent people.
This brings to my mind the appalling miscarriage of justice that occurred in the 1990s when two Palestinian students, a young woman called Samar Alami and a young man called Jawad Botmeh, were both wrongfully convicted of conspiracy to bomb the Israeli embassy in London in July 1994.
In this case a highly sophisticated car bomb as detonated outside the embassy. Thankfully nobody was killed, but a number of people suffered minor injuries. Alami and Botmeh had connections to Palestinian political support groups based in London at the time, many of whom were rounded up during the investigation. Botmeh had naively helped out a shadowy and never-identified figure called Reda Moghrabi, who asked for assistance in buying a second-hand car at auction. This was the car that was used in the explosion.
Why is this case an example of establishment cover-up? Well, this was one of the cases that former MI5 officer David Shayler blew the whistle on during the 1990s. He revealed the existence of two relevant documents that should have been disclosed to the defence but, for some unaccountable reason, were not.
The first, an agent report from a credible and trusted source, pointed to a non-Palestinian group planning the attack before it had even occurred. This report was not acted upon by the MI5 officer responsible, who then tried to cover up her mistake. She was caught out, and there was a much-discussed internal inquiry into the matter within MI5’s G Branch (international terrorism) in late 1994.
But there was another document – one written by G9/1, the senior MI5 officer who oversaw the post-incident investigation. His view was that Mossad, the external Israeli intelligence agency, had carried out a controlled explosion outside its own embassy (the shadowy and unidentified Reda Moghrabi being the potentially crucial missing link) in order to acquire the long-demanded additional security protection around Israeli interests in the UK, and also to shatter the Palestinian support networks in London – a long-term objective of Mossad.
The government at the time tried to dismiss these disclosures. However, the much-missed Private Eye investigative journalist, Paul Foot, and the indefatigable lawyer, Gareth Peirce, followed them up and pursued them tirelessly through the media and the courts.
And guess what? It turns out that these two key documents had indeed not been disclosed to the legal defence team during the trial of Alami and Botmeh – and not just by the hapless spooks. It emerged during the appeal hearing that no fewer than seven people from a variety of police and intelligence organisations had failed to disclose the relevant documentation to the defence. This cannot be explained away as an innocent oversight, a cock-up – it bears all the hallmarks of a deliberate, systemic establishment cover-up.
All this represented, at the very least, a need for a retrial but also a possible gross miscarriage of justice. And yet, while acknowledging that these documents did indeed exist during the appeal hearing and beyond, the presiding m’luds decided to ignore all case law and European law and let those two innocents rot in prison. After all, it would be terribly embarrassing to vindicate the actions of an intelligence whistleblower, wouldn’t it?
As a result, the poor pawns in this sick establishment game, Jawad Botmeh and Samar Alami, ended up serving their full sentences, despite the overwhelming body of evidence proving their innocence, and were finally released in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
For anyone interested in the detailed horror story behind this flagrant miscarriage of justice, here is the relevant chapter from my long-defunct book: Download The_Israeli_Embassy_Case