Graham Phillips (photos by myself, either parts in question, or parts on MH17 site in July 2015, all sent to official investigation as part of this email stream)
Even if your experience of aircraft investigations extends only to watching Aircrash Investigation, you know one thing. Aircrash investigators always want to collect every single part of the plane they possibly can – that’s the only way they can come to the correct result.
That’s certainly what I thought as I started work on the MH17 site over 9 months ago. Countless pieces found and photographed since, I’ve been collaborating with the official investigation since February of this year, sending them all my reports and relevant photos / videos from site.
On the site extensively over July, a lot came up – from human bones to sizeable parts of flight MH17 – the Dutch-led investigation, based in Amsterdam, were kept apprised of each finding, as I worked alongside journalist Patrick Lancaster, on the MH17 site shortly after the tragedy, on July 17th, 2014.
I’d always adhered to a policy of never removing parts from the site, unlike Dutch journalist who Jeroen Akkermans who decided to start removing parts from site, rather writing to investigators with photos / videos, and location details. However, when out on July 22nd questioning local people in the several villages located on the MH17 site, two of them replied that parts of MH17 (pictured) had fallen on their homes, they hadn’t known what to do with them, and thus the pieces of the downed liner were still in their possession.
Both willingly volunteered, and fetched the pieces. One of them, an Air Flow unit (right), was particularly interesting, sheared with signs of explosion all over. I immediately contacted the investigation, with photos – all these emails are as written, with individual names removed, as the investigators asked me to do from the outset –
Patrick and myself were around the villages MH17 came down in today.
2 homeowners we spoke to had pieces which had fallen on their houses, and they simply didn’t know what to do with them.
Please find photos of them attached. The Air Flow looks like an important part, with visible signs of damage.
I have them with me, and am keen to get them to you as soon as possible.
Best wishes, Graham
The next day I heard back –
Again thanks for your information. I passed threw the mail to ………@mindef.nl
You had already contact with him
I responded to that the next day –
And the next
I have the parts with me, and will be in Russia soon – I’m willing to bring them to you myself, in Amsterdam, if required.
Let me know, best, Graham
The next day, I heard back –
Thank you very much for your email.
We appreciate your help with our efforts to support the efforts of our repatriation mission.
Currently we have arrangements with the mayors of Hrabove, Rosznypne en Petropavlivka and fire chief in Torres. They collect and hold all items that are found, i.e. human remains, personal belongings and wreckage of the aircraft until we recover them. So it would be helpful if you could hand them over to any of the above.
Thank you again,
By this time, I was already on the way out of Donbass, almost at the border, travelling to Russia, and had a choice to make. Both the parts were in my possession, and Patrick was able to take them back to Donbass with him, as I went on. However, I simply wasn’t willing to let the Air Flow, which could clearly yield important information, just go to any one of several undefined places, casually mentioned. I replied –
I’ve now left Donbass, one part I left there with my colleague Patrick, whom you know, they key part, the Air Flow, I have with me in Moscow. It has remained in my possession all the time, is exactly as i found it.
Let me know how you wish to proceed.
Very best, Graham
I heard this on the same day –
In the meantime rest assured that we do appreciate your help.
As promised I would come back to you with an answer regarding the aircraft parts that you have in you possession.
The current arrangement we have in place with the SES and local mayors regarding the collection and storage is working perfectly. I am sorry you have other thoughts and observations. Our agencies are currently working on a plan to recover ( in the coming weeks) the wreckages that have been collected by the local population. This also includes the parts that you and Patrick still have in your possession.
I will inform you when we have a team on the ground so you can return the item to investigation team.
Again thank you for your help and support.
Let’s be clear about this, whether by conspiracy or incompetence, you are currently conducting what must surely be the worst major aircrash investigation in the history of the aviation industry. If you do arrive at the truth it will be a miracle rather by design.
I’m deeply disappointed in this entire experience. MH17 was a tragedy, a botched investigation blaming the wrong people, will be another one.
What else can you say to an investigation that doesn’t really want parts of the plane it’s investigating?