[This is the headline over a report in today's edition of The Times by Angus Macleod, the paper's Scottish Political Editor. The following are excerpts.]
Britain’s former ambassador to Tripoli said yesterday he believes that the Scottish and British governments did “some kind of deal” with Libya to release the Lockerbie bomber.
Oliver Miles told The Times that there was “something fishy” in the coincidence that Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi’s lawyers applied to drop his appeal against conviction on the same day that news of his imminent release was leaked to the media.
“I cannot know what exactly happened but I believe that the UK and Scottish governments wanted the appeal to be dropped and somehow it was dropped”, said Mr Miles. (...)
Asked why the Scottish government would be keen to see the appeal dropped, Mr Miles said he had been told by Scottish sources that there was growing anxiety in the Scottish justice department that a successful appeal would severely damage the reputation of the Scottish justice system.
“I think there may have been some kind of deal,” Mr Miles said. “One part of the deal was to have the appeal dropped and the other part was the release on compassionate grounds. Somebody told the BBC.
“It may even have been the Libyans who leaked it because they wanted the Scots to deliver on their promise and this was a way of tying them in. I don’t think there was a deal involving business. I think on that ministers are telling the truth.”
Mohammed Siala, Libya’s Secretary for International Co-operation, told The Times he believed that al-Megrahi’s appeal would have proved his innocence. The Scottish government denied Mr Miles’s claim. Nicola Sturgeon, the Deputy First Minister, said: “The decision to drop the appeal was taken by al-Megrahi and his legal advisers. The Scottish government had no influence in that decision.”