The Times of London continues to rip to shreds the official explanations from Edinburgh and London over the so-called “compassionate release” of Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi, the terrorist who killed 270 people, mostly Americans, in the 1987 bombing of Pan Am flight 103. The Scots insisted that the release was consistent with their “values”, while the Gordon Brown government insisted that they did nothing to influence the decision. New documents unearthed by the Times show both to be lying:
The British government decided it was “in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” to make Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, eligible for return to Libya, leaked ministerial letters reveal.
Gordon Brown’s government made the decision after discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had hit difficulties. These were resolved soon afterwards.
The letters were sent two years ago by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, to Kenny MacAskill, his counterpart in Scotland, who has been widely criticised for taking the formal decision to permit Megrahi’s release.
The correspondence makes it plain that the key decision to include Megrahi in a deal with Libya to allow prisoners to return home was, in fact, taken in London for British national interests.
What does it say about the governments in Edinburgh and London that Moammar Gaddafi’s son has been more honest about this than Brown, Straw, and MacAskill? Seif Islam (Gaddafi) had insisted from the beginning that Megrahi got exchanged for the completion of oil contracts with the Libyan government. Perhaps Brown and his team thought Libya would be more discreet, but the Libyan government needs to build its credibility with its subjects — and freeing Megrahi would be far too tempting for public-relations purposes to remain silent.
What happens to Brown’s government now? Will Parliament issue a vote of no confidence and force his resignation and new elections? After this debacle, men of honor wouldn’t wait for a vote of no confidence but resign in disgrace, not just for the grubby commercial bargain but for their contemptuous lies afterward.