Socialist Worker

Cover-up returns to haunt the air force

Issue No. 1892

DID A British warplane cause a passenger plane to crash killing all 15 people on board? Has Britain's Ministry of Defence been desperately trying to cover up the incident?

Those questions are at the heart of a case making headlines in Norway. On 11 March 1982 a passenger plane flying in northern Norway crashed. All 15 passengers and crew died. An official investigation concluded that pilot error and turbulence was the cause.

But evidence has now emerged of ignored eyewitness testimonies and an inconsistent story from Britain's defence ministry which point towards a cover-up. In 1987 Britain officially denied that any British plane had been involved or that any British warplane flying in Norway on the day had been damaged. But last year, in a written parliamentary answer, the British government admitted that an RAF aircraft in northern Norway had been damaged that day after being 'struck by a ricochet during a live firing exercise'.

Norwegian staff at the only nearby firing range insist that isn't true. This week the government again changed its story, telling BBC Radio Four that there had after all been 'no damage' to any RAF plane.

But now the testimony of more than 30 eyewitnesses who reported seeing military planes flying in the area where the civilian plane crashed around the time of the incident has been unearthed. Other witnesses have identified these planes as British Harrier jets.


In this week - 30 years ago - 1974

LABOUR councillors who pledged to defy the law and to refuse to increase council rents won a landslide victory in local elections in Clay Cross in Derbyshire. Some 11 sitting Labour councillors had been disqualified or fined for defying the Tory government's Housing Finance Act.

But new candidates pledged to continue the defiance won sweeping victories. Hopes were high that the new Labour government would honour a manifesto pledge to lift the disqualifications. It didn't.


Readers rise against Sun

THE SUN commissioned a study to discover what its readers had thought of the paper's coverage of the Hutton report. The Sun had championed the report and backed Blair throughout the row over Hutton.

'Hutton reached the only sane conclusion,' it declared. 'The government won' and anyone who disagreed was 'a conspiracy theorist', it added. Yet their own study has now found that almost two thirds of readers, 63 percent, concluded that Hutton's report 'was nothing more than a whitewash'.


Doubting Thomas

'WORLD EXCLUSIVE: SAS Corners Evil Warlord. BIN LADEN TRAPPED LIKE A RAT'. That was the front page splash in the Sunday Express, owned by pornographer Richard Desmond, last month. The paper claimed it had information from 'a US intelligence source' about how Bin Laden had been trapped by British special forces.

The story was by Express hack Gordon Thomas. Thomas's previous journalistic triumphs include the scoop that Terry Waite had been murdered while a hostage in Lebanon in the 1980s. Terry Waite is in fact alive and well.


Cops boost council tax

NEW LABOUR'S drive to have more police is driving up council tax bills. Official figures out last week show the 'precept' that police take from councils' funds is up 12 percent in the last year-almost six times the inflation rate.


How did this worker die?

WHAT THE hell was going on at the London plant of sugar multinational Tate & Lyle (latest profits £111 million) on Tuesday of last week? An official Health and Safety investigation has been launched into an incident at the riverside factory after a worker was killed.

Police divers spent eight hours searching the River Thames before they recovered the man's body. Reports suggest that a bulldozer in the hold of a sugar supply ship became detached from its holding chains. A crane was then brought up to lift the bulldozer clear.

The driver was left in the bulldozer seat throughout the hazardous lifting operation-a move which safety experts who we contacted find shocking. Somehow the bulldozer crashed from the crane onto the ship's deck and rolled off into the fast flowing river with the driver trapped inside. Will this lead to legal action?


Crow's number was up

THE MAIL on Sunday could be embroiled in a trial centring on police corruption charges after an article about RMT rail union leader Bob Crow. An article in the Mail on Sunday told how Bob Crow had been given a lift on the back of a scooter by an RMT member.

The incident happened during the closure of London Underground's Central Line by its owner. It is not known how the Mail on Sunday traced the motorcycle number plate to its owner. The RMT explains that the official DVLA car registration agency has confirmed that this information is confidential.

The RMT has now been contacted by police in connection with an anti-corruption investigation, part of which centres on a request for ownership details of the scooter. Anti-corruption charges, including one related to the Mail on Sunday article, have now been brought against four defendants.

Bob Crow says, 'I have become used to attacks from the Mail group of newspapers, but this may be something quite different. If the Mail on Sunday is in any way involved in receiving information from corrupt police officers, this should be investigated and it should face the consequences.'


Figure it out - £3.1 billion

THE AMOUNT that 20 defence contracts are now over budget, according to the official National Audit Office. The amount is three times what Tony Blair says his top-up fees for universities will raise.


Who says?

'UN human rights norms for business are an ill-judged and unnecessary initiative that has sprung out of a little known subcommittee. It will be absurdly onerous.'
CBI bosses' organisation on a UN human rights code for big business

'It is wrong to suggest that firms are generally involved in the widespread abuse of human rights. We are talking about some of our finest global companies, not a bunch of rogue dictatorships.'
CBI

'Every day members of what was laughably called the Labour leadership were invited to appear on all the news programmes. We declined with thanks.'
Roy Hattersley laughably Labour's deputy leader in 1984 on how the party leadership left the miners to fight alone during their year-long strike

'We are heroes in error. What we said before is not important.'
Ahmed Chalabi Iraqi Pentagon stooge on why his warnings about Iraq's WMDs have not been borne out

'It doesn't bother me. I never use public transport.'
Barbara Amiel neo-conservative wife of disgraced Telegraph boss Conrad Black on hearing Concorde had been scrapped

'You could well have $1 billion spent on this presidential election.'
Thomas Mann US political analyst


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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 13 Mar 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1892
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