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British Transport Secretary Meets Man Who Fooled Guards With Fake Bomb

July 3, 1990

LONDON (AP) _ Transport Secretary Cecil Parkinson says his department will investigate how a man testing security at London’s Heathrow airport was able to check a fake bomb aboard a British Airways flight to the United States.

The man, Dr. Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was among those killed in the Dec. 21, 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 met with Parkinson earlier Monday and detailed how he managed to fool guards at Heathrow in the May test.

Swire heads a group of British relatives of the disaster’s victims called U.K. Families-Flight 103.

The bomb aboard Flight 103 exploded as the passenger jet flew over Lockerbie, Scotland on its way to New York, killing all 259 people aboard the Boeing 747 and 11 others on the ground. Flight 103 originated in Frankfurt in West Germany, changing planes at Heathrow.

Swire told reporters after his 90-minute meeting with Parkinson and other aviation officials that he would continue to press British authorities to improve airline security.

″I think you will find we will not go away until they have,″ he said.

Swire disclosed details of his privately organized security test in a radio interview Sunday. He said the device he used was a non-explosive replica of the one that exploded over Lockerbie.

British and U.S. investigators have said they believe the bomb that downed Flight 103 was placed by Palestinian terrorists and had a barometric trigger set to detonate at a predetermined altitude.

Swire said in the interview Sunday that the fake device he used at Heathrow in May was packed in a radio-cassette recorder, like the Lockerbie bomb, but used marzipan icing instead of Semtex plastic explosives.

″It had a dummy detonator which would have shown up on X-ray, an extra printed circuit board, extra batteries, pressure transducer and so on, all wired up in a form that would have worked if the marzipan had been replaced with Semtex,″ he said in the interview.

″Our flight was selected for what they call special security, and our cases were opened and searched in front of us. The radio-cassette recorder was picked up, and I was asked whether I had taken the batteries out, and I correctly replied, ‘Yes, I had taken the batteries out.’ It was then replaced in the suitcase and is now in America.″

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