Monday, 29 March 2010

More on the refusal to release Megrahi's medical records

The man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, has declined to allow his medical records to be made public despite growing questions about the extent of the illness which led to his release from prison. (...)

As part of the terms of his release from Greenock Prison, Megrahi must file monthly reports on his condition with East Renfrewshire Council.

These were the subject of a freedom of information request, but the council, which monitors Megrahi because his family lived in Newton Mearns during his time in jail, turned it down.

After an appeal, it agreed to approach the Libyan “in view of the public interest”, but said it would not breach the Data Protection Act by publishing documents against his wishes. It emerged yesterday that Megrahi is unwilling to hand over his records, which would detail the state of his health and the treatment he is receiving.

Lord Foulkes questioned Megrahi’s decision, relayed through the 57-year-old’s Scottish lawyer, Tony Kelly, and insisted that the public has a right to know the extent of his illness.

“If the medical evidence backed up the decision to release Megrahi, then there should be no reason why it can’t be published,” Lord Foulkes said.

“The lawyer’s refusal, and the Government’s refusal, can only mean that they both have something to hide. It is a matter of public importance.”

Mr Kelly said there was “no reason” why the records should be made public. He said: “People’s medical records are entirely private and personal. They’re not public property.

“I don’t think anybody would like their private medical records splashed all over the public domain.”

One of the doctors who assessed Megrahi before his release told The Herald last week that he was expected to die “within weeks” as his cancer spreads and affects his vital organs.

Dr Karol Sikora, who is in regular contact with Megrahi in Tripoli, said his condition had worsened dramatically since he left Scotland.

[From a report in today's edition of The Herald. A more inflammatory treatment of the issue on the New Europe website can be read here.]

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