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Straws in the Wind

The Lockerbie issue is still high on the agenda of the Sunday papers and the rest of the media.

I am more convinced than ever of two things (just an opinion mind you):

1) The release of Megrahi by Kenny MacAskill was not part of any ‘deal’

2) The UK government has for many years been trying to influence and engineer Megrahi’s release. Tony Blair put much energy and effort into securing a prisoner transfer scheme with Colonel Gaddafi in 2004.

In 2004 there was one Libyan prisoner being held in the UK.

His name was Abdelbaset Ali Al Megrahi.

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6 Responses

  1. Politicians must think we are all thick .
    How can they be so patronising when they know through the web we can find out exactly what British Co’s have links with Libya.
    Oh and btw where is the bastard who instigated it =peacemaker in the middle east.
    you could not make it up.

  2. Robert

    You may be right about all of this, but…….

    (a) ‘compassion’ is basically an emotional reaction – ie you either feel it or you don’t – it is difficult to arrive at on a dispassionate analytical basis – why then do you think it took the Justice Secretary so long to arrive at his compassionate position? – it was widely trailed in the media that there would be no release until AFTER the appeal was dropped, and lo that is what came to pass. If ‘compassion’ was the only factor, then all that was required was the doctor’s report saying the man was dying. The Justice Secretary had that in his possession long before he made his decision. Why wait until the appeal is dropped before announcing compassionate release?

    If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck – it’s a duck.

    I infer from these circumstances that release was contingent on dropping the appeal.

    Is there an alternative explanation for the man dropping his long-fought appeal 2 days before HE WOULD APPARENTLY HAVE BEEN RELEASED ANYWAY WHETHER HE DROPPED IT OR NOT?

    (b) If the Machiavellian UK Government were angling all along for Megrahi to be released (which they undoubtedly were), why on earth does the Scottish Minister cravenly go along with their desires, and indeed, by rejecting the prisoner transfer request, manage to take the entire ‘blame/credit’ onto Scotland in doing so? One up for Machiavelli I’m afraid. The UK Government have got what they want, and meantime the US campaign is called boycottscotland. Gin and tonics all round.

  3. Alastair, good points well made of course.

    What I would say is this. MacAskill had two applications before him, one for release under the prisoner transfer scheme and the other for release on compassionate grounds. Was he not OBLIGED to follow procedure for both?

    As I understand it MacAskill’s (it would seem ill advised) visit to Megrahi was on consideration of the former application. Would it really have needed MacAskill to mention to Megrahi that the appeal would have to be dropped? That fact was trailed extensively in the media. I’m sure Megrahi’s legal team would have known that for the prisoner transfer scheme to have been the basis of release, the appeal would have to be dropped.

    You may say quite reasonably that MacAskill strayed from the agenda of the meeting and said “look if we can’t get you out under this scheme then drop your appeal in any case because I’ll release you on compassionate grounds”

    MacAskill vehemently denies that such a proposal was made. Whilst he would say that anyway, and whilst I have well documented doubts about MacAskill on other matters, I don’t think he’s a bare faced liar – just an opinion.

    So let me turn the question back on you. Why would MacAskill visit all this grief upon himself and the Scottish government when there was a much easier way to release Megrahi? The crown appeal against the sentence? well I wonder if that would have been an obstacle if the will was there to release him.

    Of course compassion is an emotion but as you have said yourself as a judicial decision there would have been many many other logistical, procedural and legal matters to consider.

    For instance, Would the released man present a danger to the security of this country? (laughable I know but…) What was the opinion of the parole board and the prison governor (was he not obliged to seek their submissions?) What arrangements and security had to be in place to get the prisoner back to Libya? etc. etc.

    These things all take time.

    I remember once a few years ago coming out of a leisure club with a friend. The friend remarked about all the birds waddling around noisily on the grass outside.

    “Where did all these ducks come from?” said my friend.

    They were greylag geese.

  4. To use a duck analogy, I’ll not wade in here, but I would like to express my surprise at the results of this BBC poll which appears to condemn McAskill’s decision.

    It certainly doesn’t reflect the opinions of those known to me, but I suppose I’m underestimating the power of the media to shape the opinions of those whose opinions are very easily shaped. It would also be interesting to see the exact wording of the questions.

    An example of how these things work was the lead item in yesterday’s Sunday Herald; a UK cancer expert opines that Megrahi could endure for up to a year; the inference being that the Scottish Government would therefore then be in the dock of public opinion.

    What was noticeably absent however was any suggestion that rather than the politician(s), it should perhaps be those experts who recently gave their professional assessments to the Justice Minister who should be in the spotlight. But that wouldn’t hold the readers’ interest.

    I also have to say that I’m astonished and disheartened that anyone can be so thick as to make a correlation between Megrahi’s release and the stage-managed welcoming committee including cheaply-made saltires at Tripoli Airport under the auspices of a regime which expressly forbids public assembly and demonstrations. Did the SNP make his release conditional on seeing a wee touch of hame on the tarmac…. Jesus f*** !!

    Finally (for now), on the rare occasions he opens his mealy mouth Gordon Brown should really learn to differentiate between the words ‘repulse’ and ‘repel’.

  5. Have to concur on the ICM poll Ferncake. The vast majority of folks I know back the decision.

  6. I think there were 15 Libyan prisoners in the UK – but only 1 in Scotland. (although I can’t remember if the joint Human Rights committee report gives dates as to when that information is accurate).

    I had an interesting meeting last week regarding the release. Perhaps we could discuss this at another place?

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