The chronology of PT/35(b): 06/03/1992

6 March 1992 (Whitehead – See also 15 Feb 1990 above)

On this date both officers travelled to Circuit Foil UK (formerly Yates Circuit Foils)
at Silloth, and interviewed Michael Whitehead, who examined the matt side
topography of the copper tracks on DP/504 (label 406) by using a scanning electron
microscope and produced 2 micrographs, A and B, designated DP/508 (prod 347).
Whitehead’s conclusions were said to be noted in the statement obtained from him.

DP/508 A

DP/508 A

According to the police report Whitehead concluded from the micrograph photos of
PT/35(b) and DP/504 that both copper samples had been made by Gould Electronics,
although he was also of the opinion that the copper foil for DP/504 was manufactured
some time earlier than the copper foil for PT/35(b).

DP/508 B

DP/508 B

Whitehead’s manuscript statement (prod 359) gives further details of the testing he
conducted, and explains that micrograph A shows in general the result of the
preparation, and micrograph B shows the matt side topography of one of the peeled
tracks at magnification of just in excess of 1000 times. The statement records that the
relationship of the dendrites to the base foil pyramids was representative of a product
manufactured by Gould, but that the previous micrographs (DP/14) of DP/10, the
sample from PT/35(b), suggested that DP/504 was manufactured earlier because the
number of peaks per unit area was less that depicted for DP/10. He suggested that the
time difference could have been as little as a few months, and there was still no doubt
that the micrographs of DP/10 and DP/504 were similar to the extent that the foil was
manufactured by the same process.

DP/14 (From DP/10)

DP/14 (From DP/10)

In his CP Whitehead confirmed he had signed the label for DP/504 and for DP/347(a)
but he had no recollection of this examination. He was shown DP/508  (prod 347), the
two micrographs of DP/504 and compared these to DP/14 (prod 340), the photographs
of DP/10, and said that the samples were from the same source or they used the same
technology, and that the timescale was almost the same, any slight difference in
timescale would be insignificant. He could not remember providing a statement to
police officers, and only had a very hazy recollection of the second examination
which came back to him during precognition. He stated that although he could not
remember the details, what he would have told the police at the time would have been
accurate. He was then reprecognosced on 5 June 2000 and again examined prod 347,
the micrographs of DP/504. He stated that the features most closely resembled those
of the fragment PT/35(b) as opposed to Yates or Gould control samples. He
suggested that they could have come from the same roll of copper foil, but thought
this to be unlikely. He was asked whether heat would change the appearance of the
foil, and explained that although heat would affect the foil internally,
there would be a no identifiable changes in appearance under scanning electron microscope unless the foil was exposed to temperatures over 800 degrees, which would melt the copper.

None of the samples showed signs of melting.

In his DP Whitehead did recall the 1992 investigation. His DP was taken after his CP.
He thought Williamson might have been one of the officers who saw him in 1992 but
could not be sure. He recalled the police had another piece of circuit board with them,
around 25mm each side, it looked like a portion of a circuit board (presumably
DP/504). It was in much better condition than the previous piece (i.e. PT/35(b)). He
conducted the same testing on it as he had done previously, except that on this
occasion he cut a complete piece off the sample, including the laminates, whereas
previously he had just peeled off a small bit of the copper foil. The micrograph he
obtained indicated to him that, as with the previous sample, the copper was not from
Circuit Foil and not from Gould and, as with the other one, had the style of having
been manufactured in the Far East. He was not as confident that this one was from
the Far East, as by 1992 it was not as easy as it had been in 1990 to distinguish
between countries of manufacture, as they were becoming more similar in
appearance. He stated that both the samples from 1990 and 1992 were the product of
the same manufacturing technology of copper foil, but were not identical.

Whitehead gave evidence, but basically only about the removal of DP/10 from
PT/35(b). He testified that he was able to identify that the company he worked for
had not manufactured the product but could not be definitive about an alternative
source.

Comparison between control sample and fragment: as mentioned under 15 February
1990 above, Whitehead appears originally to have been of the view that the copper on
PT/35(b) and on DP/347(a) was manufactured by Gould, but by the time of
precognition he was of the view that it was not Gould but possibly of unknown Far
Eastern manufacture. Most important is that he thought the two samples were similar
and had come from the same technology, and although he said in his DP that they
were not identical, his CP only indicates that they perhaps did not come from the
same roll of copper, and he stated that they were more similar to each other than to
Yates or Gould samples. He did make the comment that the copper would only
change appearance if exposed to temperatures over 800 degrees. It is clear from
comments of other experts (above) that the ftagment had visibly suffered heat
damage.

NB Whitehead’s signature is not obvious on the label for DP/347(a).

Whitehead was the last expert to examine DP/347(a) in 1992.

Consideration

Overall, there are some unsatisfactory aspects to the accounts of some of the scientific
witnesses e.g. a number of them could not recall the second visit by police in 1992;
Wilkinson realised she had made an error in her police statement re the comment
about crystallites; Johnson realised he made an error re heptane; Whitehead was
inconsistent re whether the copper came from Gould or the Far East; Worroll’s view
on the solder masking varied over time; and there are certain inconsistencies between
some of the opinions. However, having examined all the accounts and productions in
relation to these enquiries, the evidential chain appears sound an there is nothing
which leads the Commission to doubt that the same fragment was examined in each
case. The 1992 enquires appear consistent with the fragment having come from a
circuit board of similar manufacture to the control sample obtained from MEBO.

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This entry was posted in Chronology, DP/347(a), PT/35(b). Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The chronology of PT/35(b): 06/03/1992

  1. Scott says:

    “a number of them could not recall the second visit by police in 1992” — Yes this 1992 group amnesia struck me over last couple of your blog entries Ludwig. A number of the scientific witnesses have somehow forgotten police visits in ’92 and Bollier is remembering visits those doing the investigating of Pan Am 103 seem not to recall. Bizarre!
    Another insightful blog entry. Keep up the good work/fight.

    Like

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