Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1988 Dec 22 Th
Margaret Thatcher

Remarks visiting Lockerbie (PAN AM 747 bomb)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Remarks
Venue: Outside Lockerbie Police Station, Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway
Source: (1) BBC Radio News Report ?1800 22 December 1988 (2) Scottish TV Archive: OUP transcript
Journalist: (1) Kirsty Laing, BBC, reporting (2) Kaye Adams, Scottish TV, reporting
Editorial comments: Around 1500. The Times, 23 December 1988, has MT’s description of seeing the aircraft cockpit, which fell almost intact one hundred yards from a local church: "As you can imagine it was a grief-stricken experience. I am enormously impressed with the work of the emergency services. They are not short of expert help of any kind".
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 985
Themes: Terrorism
(1) BBC Radio News Report? 1800 22 December 1988:

Charles

As the Duke of York left by car, Mrs Thatcher arrived and was immediately taken on a tour around the worst of the wreckage. My colleague, Kirsty Laing, travelled with the Prime Minister:

Laing

The Prime Minister was taken around to a number of sites to view the debris of last night's disaster. First, she visited a street where the houses have been almost completely destroyed by fire. Then on to the bleak hillside, [end p1] where the remains of the cockpit lie in a field opposite a small chapel. On the side of the cockpit, you can still make out the airliner's name, Clipper Maid Of The Seas. Scattered around it there are bits of clothing and personal belongings. Mrs Thatcher went and stood in the wreckage, and at one point, pointed to something on the ground and picked it up. Afterwards she said she'd been moved by what she saw. She said the television pictures don't bring home the full horror of this tragedy. And she said she'd never seen anything quite like it in her life.

Charles

When she returned to the centre of Lockerbie, Mrs Thatcher said she was deeply shocked by what had happened.

Thatcher Act

It is really completely beyond one's comprehension, or experience, or imagination. I, obviously, watched very carefully on television late into the night and turned on to American television that was going on long after ours. And the damage done to this town is worse in daylight than we could possibly have seen at night. The destruction of the houses, that place near, whole houses near the road, and the crater, and the amount of metal and debris all around, and the many houses that must have been affected is far worse than I thought. And one had no idea until one came here; enormous area over which debris is spread. I'm enormously impressed with the emergency services and all the help that's come in. They are now systematically photographing a very wide area around. And, they're systematically - they've got six hundred people, systematically combing the fields and the hills for everything. I've spoken to the inspectors who are in the charge of investigating the accident. They are keeping an absolutely open mind. Everything has to be examined. They have to get forensic people to it. And they say it's not advisable to speculate. They're looking for evidence.

Q

Does it seem likely that sabotage might be the cause, Mrs Thatcher?

Thatcher Act

You are doing exactly what I said - don't you &dubellip; you are speculating. They are not speculating. They are searching for evidence, and [end p2] think it will best to let them get on and do their work. Unfortunately, the evidence is scattered over a wide area. It's going to take a time, but they are setting about it systematically. I sent a message of sorrow and sympathy to President Reagan this morning before I came and - I've seen the ambassador and to our American friends - as well as to everyone here. The people who are dealing with the bodies inside the plane, and those who are in the fields and hills; they're dealing with them in the most dignified, sensitive way. So, people should know that, because we're very conscious of how much that matters. It could have been us and we're doing just exactly what we would want anyone else to do under those circumstances.

Charles

As Mrs Thatcher spoke to journalists outside the town's police station, a large crowd of Lockerbie's residents gathered around her. On their faces were stunned looks, a sign of the difficulty that many are having facing the reality of the tragedy that's overtaken them. The main job for the forensic experts during the day has been the salvaging of the parts of the wrecked plane. They say that without them, they'll have little chance of finding out exactly why disaster struck. [end p3]

(2) Scottish TV Archive: OUP transcript:

MT

… the police are being absolutely wonderful. And they will not be able to say precisely who was affected - not until we know who was here, in those houses, and not. But when we have a terrible accident like this obviously the whole town will suffer from the traumatic shock and will go on for some time because you know shock takes some few days …

Kaye Adams, Scottish TV

[Interrupts] Have you spoken to anybody …

MT

… And for those who have been immediately affected, a good deal longer than that. I'm just going to do that now. Um, the thing about comfort and kindness is go on, because it is not just immediately …

Kaye Adams, Scottish TV

[Interrupts:] Prime Minister are you …

MT

… there is always the aftermath of loneliness. I will be saying “thank you” for the ones who have helped, the help they've been giving. And I will say I hope everyone will gather round and try to enfold and comfort those who've suffered worst. I don't know whether you've been to see the very worst place, the houses - it looks even worse in daylight. A lot of houses must be affected and the gardens in small bits of metal.

Kaye Adams, Scottish TV

What was your immediate reaction?

MT

It was almost unbelievable. It was almost unbelievable. You have to go and see it to believe it. Beyond that, I went immediately to say thank you to the people who have been on duty all night who are now tired but know they have done a wonderful job, and the people who have come on to relieve them. And also the police force, because they're in charge, and the fireman. Everyone's been fantastic.

Kaye Adams, Scottish TV

One reason …

MT

Now may I go and see some of the group …