The BP spill and a senate inquiry in the release of the Lockerbie could overshadow David Cameron's visit to the US. But former UK Libyan ambassador Oliver Miles tells Channel 4 News the al-Megrahi inquiry is a case of kicking BP while it is down. (...)
You told Channel 4 News last year that you thought there had been a deal on al-Megrahi's release. How would it have worked?
The problem is this: why did Megrahi and Libya decide to abandon the appeal. It was probably Libya rather than Megrahi, because Megrahi was very ill and had given the Libyans full powers to act on his behalf.
The obvious reason for abandoning it was that it was a precondition under the prisoner transfer agreement – but the PTA wasn't actually used. And under Scottish humanitarian arrangements, it wasn't a precondition. It means we're left with an unanswered question as to why he abandoned it.
So there's a mystery there. The only half-solution I can think of is that someone convinced the Libyans or Megrahi that this was the only way he’d get a ticket home.
And has UK-Libya trade improved since al-Megrahi's release?
UK trade has improved. That's a fact if you believe the statistics. But whether one can link it to Megrahi or any other political factor, I would doubt.
The position I probably was taking last year and my feeling now is that if this had gone wrong, it would have had a serious negative impact on relations, including trade.
Put it this way. I was in Libya in May leading a delegation of British business people, and Megrahi wasn't mentioned - and I would have been amazed if he had been.
What will the US Senate inquiry reveal?
It seems to be there is no basis for an inquiry at all. Why are they raising this? The answer, to be blunt, is because of BP? Everybody knows that BP s a baddie, and when they're nearly down, this is the time to kick them.
Libya knows the only way it can achieve a boost in oil production is by bringing in the world's biggest oil companies – that’s the country has signed a deal with BP, with Shell and with Exxon Mobil as well.
[From a report on the Channel 4 News website.]