Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Call to reveal Megrahi doctors' advice

The Scottish Government faced calls to name the doctors whose advice resulted in the assessment that the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing had three months to live. (...)

The bomber was given three months to live, but is still living with his family in Tripoli.

Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill made the decision to free the Libyan after receiving advice that no specialist "would be willing to say" if a three-month prognosis was reasonable.

Dr Andrew Fraser, director of health and care of the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), said in his report to Kenny MacAskill that his clinical assessment drew on expert advice from a number of cancer specialists.

Labour have now called on the SNP government to reveal the identities of those doctors and what their prognosis was.

The party's community safety spokesman James Kelly said: "It's time that Kenny MacAskill released the full facts surrounding the medical evidence of Al Megrahi's release."

As part of their push, Labour has pointed to a study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology from two years ago.

It said patients with advanced metastatic prostate cancer, which is resistant to hormone treatment, had a median life expectancy of 19.2 months from the start of chemotherapy. (...)

A Scottish Government spokeswoman defended Dr Fraser and his assessment of Al Megrahi's condition, adding he was "a professional of unimpeachable integrity".

"Dr Fraser drew on expert advice from a number of cancer specialists in coming to his clinical assessment that a three month prognosis was a reasonable estimate for Al Megrahi - it was not based on the opinion of any one doctor," she said.

"These specialists included two consultant oncologists, two consultant urologists and a number of other specialists, including a palliative care team, and Mr Al Megrahi's primary care physician."

In a documentary screened in Scotland on Monday night, Mr MacAskill said he acted "in good faith" when he authorised the release of Al Megrahi.

He said in the STV programme: "I authorised it. I did so in good faith and I believe everybody who's been involved in this has also acted in good faith.

"It was my responsibility and I stand by my actions."

[From a report on the Sky News website.]


  1. These Doctors have the right to remain anonymous for their own safety as far as I'm aware. Their names can only be made public with their permission.

  2. The Labour Party sinks further still if that is possible over Lockerbie. They've found a book with information in it about cancer and are now quoting this at Kenny MacAskill. Really the cringe-factor is now higher than ever. I have written to several Labour MSPs now and a Labour MP and had replies back bleating only that Megrahi dropped his appeal. That's it basically. Oh yes, and that it was all the fault of the Nationalists. They don't want to discuss their own former Leader's dirty little deal in the desert or the comments of Milliband last year against his recent U turn. They don't want to admit that the people being lobbied by BP were their Mr Blair and his government.

    Above all evidence that Megrahi could have suffered a miscarriage of justice is irrelevant to them. Their disgusting ploy, more than any other Party, to use this massively important issue in Scotland for Party-politics and nothing else is deplorable, shameless and without principle.

  3. There were dirty dealings in the trial and there were dirty dealings in Megrahi's release. The latter to cover up the former.

  4. Jo G: I am not familiar with the partisan politics in Scotland, but I do see a lot of partisan bickering, and that is usually irrational. Here, I see another instant of your I/O problems and a naive interpretation of events on top.

    First of all, your adversaries are not quoting from a "book" they found. They are citing the findings of an independent, disinterested scientific study. The results are published in the open literature in an archival, peer-reviewed scientific journal. I hope you are now closer to understanding what is being quoted.

    Second, on the matter of BP's lobbying of this party or that. It is naive for you to overlook the fact that BP lobbied those who were in office at the time. Would it make much sense to lobby a party that did not have the power to bring about the desired changes? I think not. BP went to the party in office and at the time that happened to be the Labor party. It is even more naive to think that BP's lobbying efforts were limited to one exchange with one party and one administration. Let me give you a clue: Recall how Prof. Black describes his entry into the Lockerbie case. He said, "I was approached by representatives of a group of British businessmen whose desire to participate in major engineering works in Libya was being impeded by the UN sanctions..." First let's get the I/O part straight. "British businessmen," "major engineering works," and "Libya." Now the interpretation. What sector of Libyan economy is most likely meant by "major engineering works"? And what British company is most prominent in that sector? I leave the rest up to you. In my judgment, British business sponsored the design of the Lockerbie trial, and even Prof. Black admits that their purpose was to remove a "logjam." If someone is interested in pursuing the role of BP or other British businesses, they should start right there, at the birth of the cooked up Lockerbie trial.

  5. Wow. Suliman, are you accusing Professor Black of being involved in the "back room" dealings of BP, Libya and the UK? I can't say I disagree that Professor Black's admission that he was approached by "British business" to get involved in the Libya negotiations for the Lockerbie trial is well, interesting. Just be prepared for a big, long onslaught of defensive (an possibly offensive) comments.

  6. Bunntamas,
    What's your agenda in
    'Wow. Suliman, are you accusing Professor Black of being involved in the "back room" dealings of BP, Libya and the UK?'?

  7. Ruth,
    This is a COMMENTS section to a blog. No "agenda". Just a comment / request for clarification. Do you have an agenda with your inquiry about my comment?

  8. I can see a deal that could be proposed here: The Scottish govt can reveal more information about the medical advice given if the US govt will also accede to providing full details on how they came to assure prosecutors that their star witness would provide "overwhelming" evidence at Zeist, and yet was sadly revealed to be a fantasist and liar while paid handsomely by the US govt to do so?

    Perhaps a deal can be struck with the UK govt to: Further details on Megrahi's medical reports and such will be disclosed if the UK govt withdraw it PII on the document that was suppressed from Megrahi's defence at Zeist by the crown and at the subsequent appeal?

    I feel a deal in the offing.....or perhaps not.


    Information: STV- Video "The Lockerbie Bomber", part 3 and 4 complete in function now.


  10. Oh dear, how rather tiresome. Many years ago, Prof Black wrote a piece entitled: 'From Lockerbie to Zeist (via Tripoli, Tunis, and Cairo)' in which he described his involvement in the setting up of the Zeist trial. Moreover, he has also made reference to it in this comment box on a previous occasion. For those wishing to acquaint themselves with this entertaining tale, might I recommend glancing at: http://lockerbiedivide.blogspot.com/2010/03/from-lockerbie-to-zeist-via-tripoli.html

  11. My apologies. I omitted to mention that, if memory serves, the individuals who approached Prof Black were representatives of the construction industry.

  12. Bunny or be prepared to get sued!

  13. Jo, sued for what? Are you referring to me commenting in a public forum about a statement made by Pr. Black in an article that HE wrote? Or are you referring back to the LAA / Malta thing? Ever heard of freedom of speech? I believe it applies in both our countries.

  14. I think it's unlikely that Air Malta would be successful now in any action regarding an accusation that the bomb passed through Luqa airport that morning, for the simple reason that the court at Zeist assumed that had happened.

    There's still no evidence it did and plenty evidence it didn't, though.

  15. Rolfe there is a precedent. The last broadcaster who said it were subject to litigation and paid out of court. They maybe weren't able to persuade a group of Scottish Judges but then those Judges had their own agenda. Outside litigation is a different field altogether and in the end the broadcaster had to pay up and chose to do so out of court.

  16. Wasn't that before the trial though? I'd have thought pointing to the trial verdict would be quite a good defence to libel.

    If Air Malta have been libelled, they need to sue in England. The programme could be viewed in England, so that would do it. English libel law is insane.

  17. Jo, I may be naive, but I highly doubt Air Malta would be coming after lil' ol' me. Anything of the sort, e.g. previously noted suit, would be seeking deep pockets, of which I have not.
    ...an accusation that the bomb passed through Luqa airport that morning...There's still no evidence it did and plenty evidence it didn't, though.
    The court obviously did not rely on the evidence re: Malta in their verdict. Howver, I disagree, circumstantial or not, there was a LOT more pointing toward DID, than DID NOT.

  18. I think it was STV who were supposed to be warned about making that claim. I don't think Air Malta would try anything now, after the court verdict though.

    There is nothing at all bar Bogomira Erac's souvenir of bizarre provenance to suggest there was even an unaccompanied bag on that fight, let alone that that was the actual bomb.

    And anyone actually planning that exercise, on purpose, must have been feeling awfully lucky is all I can say.

  19. The original litigation was in 1993 against Granada TV. They included the claim in a dramatised doc. that the suitcase travelled unaccompanied from Luqa. Air Malta sued. They were able to prove that all bags travelled with their owners on the flight and were all accounted for. This was ahead of the trial but you could argue that the good Judges should actually have used THAT as the precedent which had established that no unaccompanied bags travelled on that flight. Granada settled out of court.

  20. The instant I surfed to this The Top 12 Reasons To Burn A Quran On 9/11 website it occurred to me that this blog's frequenters really should witness this link! http://hubpages.com/hub/The-12-Top-Reasons-To-Burn-A-Quran-On-911

  21. No offence Cammie, I think I'll give it a miss.

  22. It is bad enough to see the flow of mail from the Demo Four trying to keep their seats in the Senate. Is it really necessary for the Scots Labour Party to take a leaf from their book and make demands, too, for the same reason? Election soon, and Labour silence on Lockerbie, other than a demand that helps the transatlantic quarter with their problem. Shame on them.

  23. No offence Cammie, I think I'll give it a miss.

    It's OK, Jo, it's a fun page. You might like reason 10 as a taster.

    "To verify that you and your entire congregation couldn't find your butt with both hands and a flashlight."

  24. Eric, the Labour Party have taken this line on the Megrahi issue since before his release. They have used it for Party-politics. Worse still their own leaders in London withheld evidence for the appeal when they were in government.

  25. Quincey Riddle:

    Now I know your real name is Mr. Robert Forrester, having read your disclosure that the Justice for Megrahi Campaign Committee is split on supporting its own petition. I am still chewing on that one, as well as still looking for any rational congruence between a campaign for Justice and an organization that was born and reared in extrajudicial on-campus lynchings of dissenting students in broad daylight. I can tell you more about my shock-n-awe later, from the perspective of one who was a Libyan student at that time, and subsequently has spent more than two decades as a professor at the most populated university campus in the US. For now, and in retroactive recognition of your important role, I thought I had better not leave your comment unanswered.

    The lengthy article that you introduced may be entertaining to some, but it actually contains fewer words about the subject at hand than does your introduction of it. And as expected, it adds little to nothing of relevance to the issue. The short passage on Prof. Black's entry into the Lockerbie affair is nearly identical to what I already quoted above, except for a couple of parenthetical instances of the word "unpaid." And as you said, the topic had been taken up on this blog before, and that time Prof. Black pointed to yet another article which says the same things but adds that he was reached through his dean. None of these and your provided details take away anything from the core argument which is as follows:

    Prof. Black was recruited by British business representatives to perform a specific task in a process with a declared objective: Unblocking the logjam of UN sanctions that prevented those businesses from getting a piece of the action in Libya's major engineering works. [Note the absence of any reference to payment in the argument.]

    Prof. Black performed his task successfully. The logjam was unblocked, and Libyan money started to flow into the coffers of British businesses.

    Everything I ever read from Prof. Black on this subject, including what he posted on this blog in reference to my previous comment, has been consistently and completely silent about the industrial specializations of those businesses that approached him. Nothing about construction, nothing about oil, and only what has been quoted above.

    I presented my own reading of the complete set of facts as they stood.

    You countered with nothing more than recollections from a memory that is only conditionally reliable. [I must say, though, it is poetically amusing that your fallible memory connects the "architect" of the Lockerbie trial with the British "construction" industry!]

    Bottom line: A thorough investigation of the linkages between British business profitability and the Lockerbie affair cannot afford to skip-jump from 1988 to 2009. That un-entertaining tale should begin no later than 1993.

  26. The businessmen in question were in the engineering and construction sectors. They were not in oil-related industries. I was recommended to them by the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates (the Scottish Bar) not by my university Dean. My services were unremunerated.

    I do not expect Suliman to believe this. But that is his problem, not mine.

  27. I thank Prof. Black for clarifying that the title Dean did not refer to a university official.

    As of now I can no longer say that Prof. Black has been silent on the industrial specialization of his recruiters. However, that does not have any effect on my overall argument and bottom line remains the same.

    In my discipline, expectation is a statistical concept that is based on observations. Prof. Black's "estimate" of what I don't believe is unjustifiable by observations, and its invalidity is no problem of mine.