Friday, 6 August 2010

Are the BBC influencing the Megrahi agenda?

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

This morning many Scots will awake to ‘new’ news broadcasts on the BBC about the compassionate release of the man known as the Lockerbie Bomber.

The reports are based around a BBC online article that appeared at around 02:00 hrs this morning (Friday) headlined ‘Lockerbie bomber cancer 'no fake'’; it is the BBC’s lead political article in Scotland.

The article centres around comments made by Professor Karol Sikora. Professor Sikora was paid to examine Al Megrahi on behalf of the Libyan government prior to his release in 2009. Professor Sikora’s views played no part in the decision to release Al Megrahi, indeed Kenny MacAskill was not even aware of Sikora’s opinion when he decided on Megrahi’s compassionate release. (...)

What is so puzzling about this article is that it presents nothing new, both the “surprised” claim and the “no fake” claim are months old.

In February Professor Sikora told the Daily Mail: "I am very surprised that he is still alive. He is not receiving any active treatment."

In March Professor Sikora said: "A lot of people believe that he’s never had cancer and that it’s all faked, but that’s not the case. The evidence was really clear-cut."

However, more alarming is the wording of the actual article, for it is worded in such a way that a reader may believe that Karol Sikora provided the three month prognosis on which the decision to release Megrahi was based.

From the BBC article:

'Leading oncologist Professor Karol Sikora examined Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, who has terminal prostate cancer, in prison and estimated he had about three months to live.

'"I am surprised he is still alive," said Professor Sikora, who was asked by the Libyans to give a medical opinion on Megrahi's health prior to his release.'

So just why have the BBC decided to headline views that are already in the public domain and word the article in such a manner?

The timing of this latest BBC foray into the release of Al Megrahi is very suspicious. For it coincides with statements from Senator Robert Menendez that the US Senate ‘inquiry’ may increase its scope beyond the (now debunked) BP oil deal and encompasse the medical evidence that led to the release.

This BBC report will now serve to feed the cycle of misinformation and misunderstanding that has epitomised all too many statements from the US. It is precisely this kind of confusing media report that led to the Senator’s ridiculous claims in the first place. (...)

This decision by the BBC to run with an old ‘cancer no fake’ story is sure to be picked up by other UK media outlets and will no doubt lead to yet another plethora of headlines questioning the medical evidence. You can also be sure that several Holyrood opposition figures will re-surface making all sorts of baseless accusations and demand ‘inquiries’ and release of medical files.

However, it will also add fuel to the transatlantic fire that was beginning to burn out as it became clear that there was absolutely no evidence to back up the claims that BP played any role in the decision to release Al Megrahi.

Was this the intention of the BBC? We don’t know, but it will be interesting to see if the usual suspects now gobble up and regurgitate this unexpected state sponsored feast.


  1. I read the BBC articles referred to on this site earlier and commented that I found them "fair". I didn't take from the one involving this particular Doc that it was on his evidence that Mr MacAskill released Mr Megrahi. The article doesn't even say the Doc is Libyan.

    There is a separate article on the same site which points out the great difficulties facing any Doctor asked for an exact prognosis on any cancer patient. I really don't think the BBC is at it here. (For once.) The two articles ultimately make the main central points that predictions like this are extremely difficult to make and that a change in environment leading to a vast improvement in the patient's psychological condition can alter everything else considerably.

  2. "if Scottish authorities come to the conclusion that al-Megrahi must be released from Scottish custody, the U.S. position is that conditional release on compassionate grounds would be a far preferable alternative to prisoner transfer, which we strongly oppose."

    Obviously, as compassionate release would raise fewer grounds for any serious review of the SD's behaviour over Lockerbie. The SD knows what's best for them.

    The flight of Pan Am 103 should have had about one quarter to one half of its seats occupied by SD personnel. There were virtually no such people on the flight.

    If, as it seems there was a warning on flights on US carriers before Xmas 1988, what were the proportion of cancellations on other flights by US airlines, other than 103.

    And, as I and you know, answer there will come none.

  3. Charles, on a previous thread Rolfe has pointed out that this theory about pre-warnings and cancellations has already been disproved in an investigation.

  4. Today is the one-year anniversary of the compassionate release of Ronnie Biggs, under virtually the same legislation as Megrahi.

    So why are today's headlines just re-cycled crap about Megrahi? Maybe Biggs was faking pneumonia? He didn't even have an illness known to be terminal, just pneumonia they didn't think he was going to get over.

  5. That was a perceptive and useful article. Dr. Sikora and cross-oceanic confusion and continued pointless furor all seem to go hand in hand. It's really an epic mess.

    Disinformation campaign no fake!