[This is the headline over an article in today's edition of The Scotsman, a virulently anti-SNP newspaper. It reads in part:]
Kenny MacAskill was last night criticised by relatives of those who died in the Lockerbie disaster, after using his decision to release the bomber to taunt his political opponents.
In his keynote address to the SNP conference in Inverness, Scotland's justice secretary received two standing ovations from the party faithful as he said that to act without mercy towards Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was to "debase the beliefs which we seek to uphold". He also mocked Labour MPs and MSPs who, he claimed, had told him they supported his decision in private, only to oppose it in public.
But Mr MacAskill's attack appeared to have backfired last night as relatives in the United States of those who died in the bombing of PanAm flight 103 in December 1988 said they were "surprised" by the sight of the justice secretary being applauded at the conference.
Frank Duggan, of the families group Victims of Flight 103, said: "I don't know what his political future will be, but the name 'MacAskill' will go down in history for his role in a miscarriage of justice." (...)
The claim that Labour MPs and MSPs had privately backed Mr MacAskill was rebutted by the party last night. [RB: The claim was not, of course, rebutted; it was denied, which is quite a different thing.] However, at least one Labour MSP contacted by The Scotsman said there had been doubts expressed in private meetings before the parliamentary debate about the party's opposition to the decision.
The source said that there were only one or two MSPs who had expressed doubts about their opposition, before agreeing to swing behind their own leader.
[It is perhaps worth noting (a) that there is no mention in the article of views of the UK relatives of the victims of Pan Am 103; (b) that Frank Duggan, though the President of Victims of Pan Am 103 Inc, is not himself a relative; and (c) that the readers' comments that follow the article are overwhelmingly critical of its tone and content and supportive of the release decision.]