Monday, February 7, 2011

UK ministers 'wanted Lockerbie bomber released'

The previous UK government did "all it could" to help facilitate the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, a report on the case has said.
Sir Gus O'Donnell, the country's most senior civil servant, said there was an "underlying desire" to see Megrahi released before he died.
But his report concluded that it was made clear to Libya that the final decision was up to Scottish ministers.
And there was no evidence of UK pressure on the Holyrood government.
Most of the 270 people who died when Pan Am Flight 103 blew up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 were Americans.
The last Labour government consistently refused to publicly take a position on Megrahi's release, and the report aims to shed light on what Westminster ministers were saying behind the scenes.
Megrahi, the only person convicted of the atrocity, was freed by Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill on compassionate grounds.
The Libyan, terminally ill with prostate cancer, was freed from a Scottish prison to return home in August 2009 after doctors suggested he had three months to live, although he is still alive.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who commissioned the report, questioned whether it was right for the last Labour government to facilitate the Libyan efforts to secure the release of Megrahi.
Former prime minister Gordon Brown said the findings made clear his position that the matter was the responsibility of the Scottish government.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond welcomed publication of the report and 140 pages of supporting documents.
He said the information showed UK ministers changed their position on Megrahi due to commercial considerations, including lobbying by BP, in Libya.
Sir Gus O'Donnell's report said the UK government had an "underlying desire to see Mr Megrahi released before he died".
The report added that, in 2008, the government developed a policy that it "should do all it could, whilst respecting devolved competences, to facilitate an appeal by the Libyans to the Scottish government for Mr Megrahi's transfer under the PTA (prisoner transfer agreement) or release on compassionate grounds".
"This action amounted to: proceeding with ratification of the PTA; explaining to Libya in factual terms the process for application for transfer under a PTA or for compassionate release; and informing the Scottish government that there was no legal barrier to transfer under the PTA," the report said.
Sir Gus said he had "not seen any evidence" that the UK government pressured or lobbied the Scottish government for the transfer or release of Megrahi.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...