Bedford and Kamboj Statements: Primary Evidence

Last edit June 8 2010

In the interest of clarifying what’s been said by whom in the Bedford/Kamboj controversy at Heathrow, I’m compiling as much as I can find of statements by the two. Below, from trial transcripts Day 44, (August 25 2000) are original police interviews from 1988-1990, and Fatal Accident Inquiry testimony, read back in court at Camp Zeist, along with some interesting testimony from Zeist. The descriptions and follow up questions are as stated in court, in black here, condensed. Original source material, apparently given in direct quotation, is in green. Each was affirmed with the witnesses Kamboj and Bedford - neither could remember the details nor anything they said, nor having said it, but they each agreed on every quote that if it's there they said it and if they said it it's true to the best of their knowledge at the time.

For comparison, see also Peter Walker's statements.

Sulkash Kamboj, statement taken "by a Detective Sergeant Downs on the 28th of December '88"
"I was involved with x-raying the interline baggage ... throughout my tour of duty, and all I do, once I've x-rayed the baggage, is to put a security band round them."

John Bedford statement “taken on the 3rd of January 1988, probably wrong -- should be 1989, obviously, by constable – detective constable called Adrian Dixon"
"I have been asked if it would be – if it would have been possible for anything other than the bags that should be in the tin to be put in there, and I would say yes. […] Whilst dealing with other baggage from other flights, it's not possible to keep the tin in my view all the time." [day 44 p 6479]

Sulkash Kamboj, to A. Dixn, 6 January 1989.
"Earlier in the afternoon, John Bedford had brought into interline a
metal tin into which PA 103 luggage was to be placed. I did not place any luggage in the PA 103 tin on that day."
Bedford 9 Jan 1989 – to Adrian Dixon
"I went to see Peter Walker in baggage build-up leaving Camjob in interline. I returned about 4.40 p.m., Camjob told me two further suitcases had arrived for PA 103 which he had put in the tin. I looked inside the tin and saw the suitcases that I had put in the tin still in the same position. Lying on their sides in front of the other suitcases, handles pointing towards the back of the tin, were two suitcases. They were hard suitcases, the type Samsonite make. One was brown in colour, and the other one, if it wasn't the same colour, it was similar. In size, they took up the remaining base area of the tin."

"... a statement, Mr. Kamboj, that has been taken from you by a police officer called Mr. Hogg, and it would appear to have been taken from you on a date which is not terribly legible … the date is recorded there as 23rd of August 1990"
"I did not load any bags into the container that day in the interline shed, as it is -- as I do not load containers." [6421-22]

Kamboj questioning and testimony, Fatal Accident Inquiry “in about November of 1990”
Q And an interline bag comes through into the shed and you put it through your machine. Is it possible that in those circumstances, in the absence of the loader, you would simply remove the bag from the machine and put it into the tin?
A No. We only remove the bag from the belt, as you can see in picture 59.
Q I am interested in the loading of containers. You have described to us how the normal practice was for the loader to do this job.
A Yes.
Q You have also told us a number of times that you didn't regard it as part of your job?
A Yes.
Q To load containers?
A Yes.
Q Did you ever put a bag in a container? Have you ever done that in the whole of your time with Alert?
A No, I don't, never.
Q You took a little time to think about it. Is it possible you may have done that?
A No, no.
Q Have you ever seen other Alert Security staff not only x-raying a bag but also putting it into a container?
A I have never seen.
Q If Mr. Bedford were to tell us at this inquiry that he went away from the interline area some time during the afternoon and that when he came back, you told him that you had put a couple of cases into the tin, might he be right in that?
A No, I can't say that would be right.
Q I am sorry.
A No.
Q You are not happy about that?
A No.


Bedford, Fatal Accident Inquiry, 1990:
Q Can you recall whether on 21st December, 1988 any of the luggage that you dealt with or saw at the interline shed destined for Pan Am 103 was a bronze Samsonite case?
A Yes, sir.
Q Did you see a bronze Samsonite case?
A A maroony-brown Samsonite case, yes.
Q Where was that tin when you saw it?
A In the front of the container, lying down
Q Again in relation to the photograph that we have looked at in Production 42, photograph 1, can you point to where that case was when you saw it?
A Just there?
Q Indicating the left-hand case which is lying flat on the floor in the
front of the container?
A Yes, sir.
Q Now, I wonder if I could get in a bit more detail of the colour. What is your recollection about the colour of the case lying in that position?
A I think it was a brown or maroony colour, hard-backed suitcase.
Q I also used the word "Samsonite." What is your position about that?
A I couldn't say that it was Samsonite, only that it was a hard-backed suitcase, a Samsonite type.
Q But as far as colour is concerned, can you be any more precise than you have been in your evidence?
A No, sir, I am sorry.

[pp 6482-85]
Q I think it's fair to say that you have been seen on a number of occasions by police and other investigating agencies; is that right?
A Yes, sir.
Q And as far as the colour of that particular case is concerned, have you always expressed the same view as to what the colour was?
A To my knowledge, I have.
Q Isn't it fair to say that on different occasions you thought it was brown or maroon, and at one point you were quite certain it was maroon?
A Yes.
Q Again this is no criticism of you, but I am anxious to know what the state of your evidence is about colour. In view of the different expressions of view over the period, are you able to be clear at all as to what the colour of that case was?
A No.
Q With regard to the suitcase that you saw lying down flat to the left side of the container, I would like you to think back as best you can. Could that suitcase have been a blue suitcase with a maroon or brown trim?
A I couldn't say.
Q You don't know whether it was or not?
A No, sir.
Q But it could have been?
A It could have been.
Bedford, Camp Zeist, Aug 25 2000:
Q When you left the interline shed to go to Mr. Walker's for a cup of tea ... There were no bags at the front of that tin, that container?
A No, sir.
Q You didn't see the two bags that you are referring to being put in that container ... Your only knowledge of how they got there was what you say Mr. Kamboj told you, namely, that he had put them in?
A Yes, sir.
Q Can you help us with this, please, Mr. Bedford. Mr. Kamboj gave a number of statements to police in the weeks following the date of this disaster in which he maintained that he had never put any bags in that tin at all. Can you help explain that discrepancy?
A No, sir, I can't help you to explain that.
[pp 6460-61]
Worse, of course - he vehemently insisted he never would have done that, essentially calling Bedford a big fat liar. But then his story had changed by the time of the Zeist trial. Examination in chief by Mr Turnbull for the Crown:
Q Did the Alert workers ever put bags into containers after they'd passed through the x-ray machine?
A No, sir.
Q Why was that?
A That's not the job of the security.
Q I see. Was that never done, even as a favour or to help out?
A Yes, in the case of if somebody is, like, if it's a quiet time and somebody going for restroom or toilet, and bags come, you do the favour. But it's not normal routine, because we worked together, so if somebody not -- we just maybe – but it's not a normal routine.
Q I see that. So it's not the normal routine, but it did happen?
A Yes, sir.
Q And in particular it might happen if there was a quiet time?
A Yes, sir.
Q And if somebody was in the restroom or away somewhere?
A Yes, sir.
Q And you mean by that, if the airline worker was in the restroom or away?
A Yes.
Turnbull/Kamboj, examination in chief:
Q Do you remember if you helped [Mr. Bedford] out at all in the later part of that afternoon?
A I don't remember, sir.
Q Well, do you remember if you helped him out by putting two suitcases into a container for him?
A I don't remember, sir.
Q Doing that, perhaps, whilst he was away for a little while?
A I don't remember, sir.
Q All right. Is it possible you might have done that, Mr. Kamboj?
A Yes, sir, possibility, yes.
Q Do you remember, in fact, telling Mr. Bedford that you had done that for him?
A I don't remember, sir.
Q If Mr. Bedford remembers you telling him that you had helped him out by putting two suitcases into a container, would you quarrel with him over that?
A If he said that, or whatever -- I mean, it's a possibility, as I already said before, and I can't actually remember now. So if he said -- I mean, I will admit that, yes; but if I did, that maybe had to go through the proper security procedure, and then --
Q Of course. Of course. But if Mr. Bedford has a recollection of you telling him that, would you say he was wrong?
A I won't say he was wrong, no.
Kamboj admits they also sometimes picked bag off the line for Pan Am, under questioning from Lord Sutherland:
Q ... So somebody has to watch the conveyor belt all the time and then pick off any bags which are destined for Pan Am flights; is that right?
A Yes, sir.
Q And who would that be?
A It's the airline employee, and sometimes when we are by the machine. That's right.
Q Yes. So would that be Mr. Bedford, if he was normally in the shed?
A Yes, sir, he was normally in the shed, yeah.


baz said...

Curious that DC Dixon gets Kamboj's name wrong "Camjob" in Bedford's statement of the 9.1.89 when he has taken a statement from Kamboj three days earlier!

Caustic Logic said...

I think that's Bedford's spelling. Don't people sit down and type their own statements? It seems an English enough way to remember that weird Indian guy's name.

FWIW, neither Kamboj nor Bedford are completely "in the clear" in my book. More coming...

And thanks for the snappy quick comment!

Caustic Logic said...

...but if it's transcribed from spoken, yeah, one should catch that means Kamboj. Insert a [sic] or something?

I don't know everything, man, get off my back! kidding.