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Wednesday, 24 January, 2001, 17:34 GMT
'Life goes on' in Lockerbie
Prince Charles
Prince Charles visited Lockerbie soon after the disaster
A small market town in Scotland has been under the spotlight of the media for 12 years.

And with the long-running trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands at an end, the town of Lockerbie is once again the focus of attention.

Residents of the town, devastated when Pan Am flight 103 exploded above it in 1988, accept there is renewed interest in Lockerbie and are prepared for a media frenzy as the case finishes.

However, the view of one resident that the complex trial of the two Libyans accused of causing the atrocity is "not the talk of the town" seems to be echoed throughout the community.

Residents insist their interest is no greater than that of anyone else.

"Life goes on," said one resident.

Plane wreckage
Wreckage of Pan Am flight 103

Lockerbie councillor Marjory McQueen said: "People have not really been speaking about it much and if you go into the local pub you will find them talking about anything and everything - but not about the Lockerbie trial.

"We are no more interested than anyone else and it's not as if every time I go home at night I check what has happened on the news or teletext. I don't go out of my way to find out what's happening.

"Of course there will be more interest on the day of the actual verdict."

On the night Pan Am 103 fell to earth, councillor McQueen scoured the area with her doctor husband in the hope of helping survivors.

She added: "I think people here see it all as yet another hurdle to get over because of the press invasion which will come at the end of the trial.

"It's 12 years on and people here just want to get on with their lives although of course they hope the trial helps the relatives of those who died."

Throughout the trial, proceedings have been broadcast to remote sites in London, Dumfries, Washington DC and New York.

Immediate relatives of the 270 victims are eligible to attend and watch the trial on closed-circuit television.

Lockerbie street
Wreckage from the plane destroyed houses and wiped out familes
One of the sites is at Dumfries Sheriff Court - but few in Lockerbie and the surrounding area are eligible to attend.

None of the 259 passengers or crew of the doomed Flight Pan Am 103 were from Scotland, while the carnage on the ground, which claimed the lives of 11 people, saw whole families wiped out.

Councillor McQueen said: "There are two or three relatives who are eligible to go. However, one woman who is eligible has never been because she said she wants nothing to do with it.

"I think it has only been used on a couple of occasions."

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Courts Service confirmed that attendance at Dumfries had been minimal - although some families of those who died on the plane watched the trial from there while visiting the Lockerbie area.

She said it was always known that the Dumfries site would have minimal use but it was still necessary to have it.
Lockerbie memorial
Memorial to Lockerbie victims

Maxwell Kerr, 64, remembers seeing objects falling from the bright orange sky on the night the aircraft exploded.

He headed outside to help and saw a young woman, whom he didn't recognise, lying dead in one of the town's streets.

But despite his vivid memories of the fateful night, Mr Kerr is not overly interested in the case.

He said: "I'm a member of the bowling club and I go to different parts of the town but there's no real interest in the trial - although I expect that will change when we get the result.

"We know there will be a lot of press interest then and we will be asked what we think about the verdict. That's doesn't worry me, we are used to it here."

He added: "It's 12 years ago and people are getting on with their lives and that's the main thing. We've got to carry on - although we will never forget what happened and we always have respect for families who come to visit."
The town of Lockerbie is trying to leave its past behind it

Retired Lockerbie police inspector George Stobbs was one of the first officers on the scene on 21 December, 1988.

He had not long finished his shift and was at home with his wife Maisie when a TV broadcast said an aircraft had come down on Lockerbie.

Mr Stobbs, 66, dashed to the town from his home on the outskirts and helped take charge of the situation.

He said: "Obviously, because of the work I was doing at the time I am interested in the trial to a point and I want to see justice for the 270 people who died.

"But in all honesty I don't think there's that much interest among people in the town. It was a long time ago, and you have youngsters aged 12 and 13 who know virtually nothing about what happened."

Farmer Bill Parr, however, believes that deep-down Lockerbie residents are interested but added: "It's a muted private interest."

Mr Parr, who lives on the outskirts and searched the hills with his dog for victims on the night of the disaster, said: "I think people are glad it's coming to an end.

"It's got to saturation point and I think the town has to move on. It's hard for outsiders to understand that."

Lockerbie megapuff graphic


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