[This is the headline over a report just published on the ABC News website. It reads in part:]
Top Scottish officials have declined an invitation to appear before a Senate panel investigating allegations of fraud and corporate pressure that may have led to the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdulbaset al Megrahi, ABC News has learned.
In a letter sent yesterday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass, formally invited Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill to appear before a July 29 hearing on the topic, chaired by New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez.
In response to Kerry's letter, Salmond denied the allegations levied by a group of US senators and said his letter explaining his government's position would suffice.
"I believe that I have offered all assistance that could reasonably be expected of an overseas government and respectfully decline your invitation for Scottish ministers to appear at the hearing," Salmond wrote in a letter dated today.
[A report on the Telegraph website contains the following:]
Susan Cohen lost her only daughter, Theodora, in the bombing. Speaking from her home in New Jersey, she said: “This is just the sort of stonewalling governments do.
“He doesn’t want to be asked any tough questions and see his lies unravelling. I think they want it to go away. How can they believe BP had nothing to do with it?”
Annabel Goldie, Scottish Tory leader, said: “A no-show would only fuel suspicion that they have something to hide. We need clarity, not confusion.”
Richard Baker, Scottish Labour justice spokesman, said: “Kenny MacAskill is running away from criticism as fast as Alex Salmond is running away from responsibility for the decision.
“Only Kenny MacAskill can explain his decision to release the man convicted of the worst terrorist atrocity committed on Scottish soil.”
[The report on the refusal to attend on the BBC News website also contains comments from Dr Hans Koechler.]