Friday, 23 July 2010

US Senate committee backs down over plans to call Tony Blair over Lockerbie bomber release

[This is the headline over a report on the Telegraph website. It reads in part:]

The US Senate committee investigating the release of the Lockerbie bomber appears to have mysteriously backed down over plans to call Tony Blair to testify.

The committee seemingly drafted a letter to ask the former Prime Minister to appear before it but this was never sent.

It remains unclear if a genuine error was made somewhere in the Senate. The committee may have decided that it was too controversial to ask him

Frederick Jones, communications director for the Senate foreign relations committee, said: “Mr Blair was not and will not be an invitee.”

He added: “I deeply regret any confusion this may have caused. We still have to get to the bottom of this.”

Jack Straw, the former Justice and Foreign Secretary, has been asked to appear next week before a US Senate committee investigating the possible role of BP in the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber. (...)

Senators have written to Mr Straw asking him to the hearing next week along with BP executives and members of the Scottish devolved administration.

BP, which has won contracts in Libya, has admitted it lobbied Mr Straw in 2007 to introduce a prisoner transfer agreement with the North African state.

Senators are focusing on the relationship between Mr Straw and Sir Mark Allen, a former MI6 official who helped BP to win the valuable contracts. Sir Mark has also been asked to appear.

He became a special adviser to BP and had at least two telephone conversations with Mr Straw to discuss the prisoner transfer deal. He also had meetings with Col Muammar Gaddafi.

Mr Straw said last night: “I have no objection in principle to explaining the background to the prisoner transfer agreement with Libya. Indeed, I have done so on a number of occasions before the United Kingdom Parliament.

“However, before coming to any decision as to whether to accept this invitation I shall be consulting Gordon Brown, as prime minister at the time, and seeking the advice of the Foreign Office.

“It is, in my experience, highly unusual for the legislature of one sovereign state to conduct an inquiry into decisions of another sovereign state, including, as in this case, decisions by a devolved administration on the release of a prisoner.”

[An amusing piece on the "phoney letter to Tony" appears on the Sky News website.

For the current state of play on who will attend the Senate committee's hearing, see "Will anybody attend the US Lockerbie hearing?" on The First Post website.]

1 comment:

  1. Quelle Surprise. Blair gets an exemption. Blair, the man who brought Megrahi into the spotlight again in the first place during the talks with Libya about a PTA between the UK and Libya. (Well yes they said Megrahi wasn't named but then he was the only Libyan prisoner held here wasn't he?) Blair, whose government BP had lobbied. Hmmm, its really reassuring that the Americans want to talk to those truly responsible. Like, errrrrr, the Scottish Government.