[This is the headline over an article in The Times. It reads in part:]
Britain was accused last night of reneging on a promise to the United States that the Lockerbie bomber would serve his sentence in Scotland.
According to confidential correspondence obtained by The Times, ministers urged the Scottish government to consider returning Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi to Libya under a prisoner transfer deal in an apparent breach of a decade-old pledge.
A former Cabinet minister and two sources close to talks over the handover of suspects in 1999 told The Times that Robin Cook, then Foreign Secretary, promised Madeleine Albright, US Secretary of State at the time, that anyone found guilty would serve their sentence in Scotland, where the airliner exploded with the loss of 270 lives.
A senior US official said: “There was a clear understanding at the time of the trial that al-Megrahi would serve his sentence in Scotland. In the 1990s the UK had the same view. It is up to them to explain what changed.” (...)
Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the Lord Chancellor, made reference to the deal — to which Libya also agreed — in a letter to Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, in June 2007. “Libya agreed prior to al-Megrahi’s trial that anyone convicted of the Lockerbie bombing would serve their sentence in Scotland,” he wrote. Britain had reminded Libya of this through diplomatic channels, he said.
The position was reversed two years later when the Libyans applied for al-Megrahi’s transfer. Ivan Lewis, the Foreign Office minister, told the Scottish government that Britain had never provided a “definitive commitment” to the US because it had not wanted to “tie the hands of future governments”. (...)
Kenny MacAskill, Scotland’s Justice Minister, said last week that Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, and Eric Holder, the Attorney-General, had told him Britain had given firm assurances that the sentence would be served in Scotland. By contrast, British ministers said they “gave no assurances to the US Government at the time”.
[Another article in The Times by Tom Baldwin headed "When truth about Britain's dealings with Libya turns out to be a mirage" gives further details and is well worth reading.
There can be absolutely no doubt that an undertaking was given that anyone convicted in the Lockerbie case would serve his sentence in Britain. In paragraph 4 of their joint letter of 24 August 1998 to the Secretary General of the United Nations (page 132 in this version), the Acting Permanent Representatives of the United Kingdom and the United States said: "If found guilty, the two accused will serve their sentence in the United Kingdom." This letter is referred to in, and formed the basis of, UN Security Council Resolution 1192 (1998) which provided the international warrant for the Lockerbie trial at Camp Zeist.]