[This is the headline over a report published today on the website of The Press and Journal, a daily newspaper circulating primarily in Aberdeen and the north of Scotland. It reads in part:]
The first minister has hit back at accusations a US senate hearing into the release of the Lockerbie bomber was “stonewalled” and said senators should focus on getting information from their own government. (...)
Senator Robert Menendez, who was due to chair the hearing into the release of Abdelbaset al Megrahi, said “no witness of consequence has the courage” to testify.
Mr Salmond said yesterday he and Mr MacAskill had a “responsibility to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people”, but added they would give evidence at an international inquiry if it had the “authority and power” to summon every witness and collect every document related to Megrahi’s release. (...)
Speaking in Aberdeen yesterday, Mr Salmond said Scottish ministers could not give evidence on something they “knew nothing about”.
He said: “We cannot help Senator Menendez with the inquiry into BP’s influence on Mr Megrahi’s release, because BP had no influence. There was no contact, formal or informal, between the Scottish Government and BP.”
He added the Scottish Government has “given every facility” to senators, and said: “If I was a senator I would concentrate on getting all the documents relevant to Mr Megrahi’s case from the UK and US governments. From there they might be better placed to consider another hearing.
“Otherwise, I am sure Senator Menendez acknowledges what was said by Senator John Kerry, the chairman of the committee, when he said our replies to the committee have been thoughtful and thorough.
“If there were to be a properly constituted, all-encompassing and internationally-based inquiry with the authority and power to requisition all documents and summon all witnesses we would be happy to co-operate.
“The US Senate is a powerful body, but it is not an international tribunal.”