[This is the headline over a report in today's edition of The Herald. It reads in part:]
A prominent campaigner last night said he was “not surprised” a cancer specialist who advised the Scottish Government on the release of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing has suggested Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi could live for 10 years or more.
Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the 1988 atrocity that claimed the lives of 270 people, said the fact that al Megrahi had been sent home to his family in Libya would have reduced his stress levels and helped to prolong his life.
His comments came after leading oncologist Karol Sikora, who advised Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, admitted he was embarrassed that al Megrahi had outlived his three-month prognosis after he had assessed him. (...)
Dr Swire told The Herald: “Karol Sikora is one of the people who advised Kenny MacAskill in the first place that there was a 50% chance of this guy living three months.
“But I can’t really find any fault with him because all doctors can do is work around an average for people with an illness at a particular stage.
“What happened to al Megrahi was that he was returned to his family, which reduces stress, and stress also decides how well your immune system fights the cancer.” (...)
Scotland’s chief medical officer, Harry Burns, had earlier refused to be specific about al Megrahi’s health and sought advice from Dr Grahame Howard, a consultant oncologist at Edinburgh Cancer Centre. Howard said: “I don’t think any oncologist would use a number in that way because the science isn’t perfect.
“I assessed his prognosis to be months, maybe many months. It’s an odd disease and many months can spread to years.”
Dr Swire, however, said he did not have any grounds to suggest medical evidence had been massaged to ensure an early release of the man convicted as a terrorist.
He added: “The fact is that going home to his family would firstly be likely to greatly increase his lifespan and secondly he may have received world-class treatment in Tripoli that hadn’t been administered in Scotland.
“We don’t know exactly what was done to him there. So I’m not surprised the guy is doing a lot better than originally predicted and I think that Karol Sikora is very wise to have set a wide range of possibilities.
“All doctors can do is work by the averages of people in that predicament and I’ve no doubt that Karol Sikora did that.”
[The Scotsman's report on the issue reads in part:]
New demands have been made for the Scottish Government to release the full medical reports behind the decision to release the Lockerbie bomber last year.
SNP ministers have been urged to come clean on the medical evidence following two conflicting, unconfirmed reports on the health of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi.
One report suggested that medical treatment had been withdrawn, which means he has just weeks to live, while another suggested that he might survive for another ten to 20 years.
At the time of justice secretary Kenny MacAskill's decision to release Megrahi in August last year, a short summary of advice which was made available showed that only a prison doctor believed he had less than six months to live, while four specialists would not commit to the estimate. With Megrahi just a month from celebrating a year out of jail, more questions are being asked over why he was released.
Tory justice spokesman, MSP John Lamont, said: "There are growing suspicions that the SNP decided to release the Lockerbie bomber and then found facts to fit the decision.
"Their refusal to publish the medical reports only adds fuel to the flames of suspicion
"As well as making all the evidence public, the SNP government must publish full details of the regular reports it is supposed to receive from Libya concerning Mr Megrahi's health.
"More and more people are asking, 'Why was the Lockerbie bomber really set free?'."
[The report in The Sunday Times which set this particular hare running can be read here.
A report in today's edition of the Daily Mirror reads in part:]
Claims that cancer-stricken Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi might live for another decade have been denied by his family.
They said the Libyan is now being kept alive by alternative medicine "and is unlikely to reach the first anniversary of his freedom".
A relative said: "He is almost certainly on his death bed. He is extremely sick, and surgeons stopped operating long ago.
"The cancer has since spread to his kidneys, liver, pelvis and lymph nodes. There is very little chance of him reaching August." (...)
He is being cared for at the family home in Tripoli.