Ellon Probus Club’s meeting on January 22 started with a minute’s silence is respect of former local businessman Alfie (Reuben) McRae, a club member for over 20 years, who passed away recently.
President Norman Davidson then introduced guest speaker George Esson CBE, a North-east ‘loon’ from Alford, who carved out a highly successful career in the police service.
From being a lowly beat policeman in Aberdeen, George rose to the level of chief constable for Dumfries and Galloway.
It was during his spell in charge at Dumfries that the Pan Am 103 disaster occurred over Lockerbie on December 22, 1988, resulting in the deaths of 259 passengers and 11 local residents.
As this incident occurred in the Dumfries and Galloway policing area, George was automatically in charge of all investigations into the crash cause.
Pan Am 103 had been en route from Frankfurt via London to Detroit and sabotage was suspected.
Detailed investigations and intensive liaison were carried out involving MI5, FBI and CIA and their German equivalents.
Painstaking forensic examination of everything found within many miles of the crash site was carried out and its origin traced.
Eventually sufficient evidence was gathered to allow the procurator fiscal to proceed with a prosecution.
All evidence pointed to the involvement of Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.
At a specially-convened Scottish court at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands in 2001, all three sitting judges found Megrahi guilty of murder.
Subsequently, at an appeal hearing in 2002 five further law court judges unanimously also found him guilty.
The Pan Am investigation is subject to continued speculation on Megrahi’s involvement.
Prior to his retirement, George was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal (QPM) for his distinguished service in the police force. The vote of thanks was given by Alasdair Walker.
The next meeting of the Probus Club will be on February 26, when Keith Jones will talk on Railways in North-east Scotland.