Lockerbie bombing lead and ex-chief constable Sir John Orr dies aged 72

An officer “gentleman” who went on to lead Scotland’s largest force at the end of the 20th century has died.

Feb 20, 2018
By Nick Hudson

The death of former Strathclyde Police Chief Constable Sir John Orr has been revealed in a statement from Kilmarnock Football Club, where he was an honorary president and a former chairman.

Sir John was at the helm of Strathclyde Police from 1996 until 2001 – then the country’s biggest of eight forces before they were brought together to form Police Scotland in 2013.

He was knighted by the Queen in 2001 for services to policing, following a stellar career that will undoubtedly be widely remembered for heading up the Lockerbie terrorist bombing investigation.

Sir John was joint head of CID in Strathclyde Police with the rank of detective chief superintendent when he received the call to take over the investigation into the downing of Pan Am Flight 103.

He arrived at Lockerbie on December 21, 1988 – having been seconded at the request of the then Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway Police, John Boyd.

The challenges on the site were considerable and he would be overseeing forces from Strathclyde, Lothian and Borders and Metropolitan Police Service, as well as an operation that would be joined by Air Accident Investigations Bureau, the CIA, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and even Israel’s national intelligence agency MOSSAD.

He held that job for two years, blending together a team of officers from different forces into a unit that eventually succeeded in producing evidence from the most unpromising circumstances imaginable.

Sir John served as chairman of Kilmarnock FC between 2001 and 2003.

The following year he was appointed as an independent expert to review procedures for authorising marches and parades.

His 300-page report, which proposed new moves to give councils greater control over parades, was published in January 2005.

News of Sir John’s death has brought tributes pouring in.

Police Scotland Acting Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of Sir John Orr.

“Many people at Police Scotland had the privilege of working with him during their careers and he will be remembered as a first class police officer and an absolute gentleman.”

The Killies football club said in a statement: “Everyone at Kilmarnock Football Club is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of honorary president and former chairman Sir John Orr.

“Our thoughts are with Sir John’s family at this difficult time.”

Ray Montgomerie, who captained Kilmarnock to the Scottish Cup in 1997 and also played for Newcastle United, Dumbarton and Partick Thistle, tweeted: “I am so so sad to hear about the passing away of my dear friend Sir John Orr.

“Our ex chairman here at Rugby Park and a former chief constable of Strathclyde Police. A great Killie man with morals and principles. My heartfelt thoughts to all his family.”

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