Scottish Govt. denies striking deal with Libya over Lockerbie bomber's release

Published: Monday, February 7, 2011, 15:15 [IST]
 

Edinburg, Feb 7 (ANI): The Scottish Government would reportedly release new documents detailing discussions with Westminster to deny speculations that it had played a major role behind the scenes to release Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds.

Some senior Whitehall sources, however, have turned down claims by the Scottish Government that its ministers did not try to win concessions on powers over firearms in exchange for al-Megrahi's release, and added that Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill had made special requests to the then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in a meeting in late 2007 in this regard.

In an e-mail dated 9 November, 2007, John McTernan, then a special adviser to Scottish Secretary Des Browne, had reportedly written to Mark Davies, his counterpart in Straw's office: "I understand from our officials that the discussion with MacAskill went well, but that he indicated he wanted to do a 'deal' that included movement on firearms devolution and movement on Somerville the slopping out compensation test case."

Last night the government had denied that any deal was offered, and added that the issues were discussed separately at the same meeting, The Scotsman reports.

They said that the discussion in late 2007 focussed on the SNP trying to stop Megrahi being included in a prisoner transfer agreement (PTA) with Libya. The PTA was ultimately rejected by Mr MacAskill, who sent the bomber home 17 months ago because he was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.

"The issue in 2007 was not about release of al-Megrahi but the technical issue of whether to exclude al-Megrahi from the face of the PTA, as the Scottish Government demanded, and the UK Government seeking to renege on their commitment to do so on the basis that the issue was academic, as they would publicly say that Scottish ministers had a veto over any such transfer," a spokesman for First Minister Alex Salmond said. (ANI)


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