[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.