Friday, 1 October 2010

Row sparks new Megrahi records call

[This is the headline over a report in today's edition of The Herald. It reads in part:]

The clash between the Scottish Government and US Senators has prompted fresh calls for the release of the medical records of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.

The Labour and Tory justice spokesmen said the contradictory claims of Senator Robert Menendez and the Scottish Government had to be cleared up.

The Scottish Government has accused Mr Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, of making factual errors after he accused Scottish ministers of “intentionally skewing” the reasons for freeing Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi and intervening in the medical diagnosis.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Within due channels of accountability we have been as helpful as possible to the senator, certainly going further than the UK Government or any other group in terms of being helpful.

“We were the only organisation that gave the senator’s staffer the courtesy of a meeting, which others refused.”

After the meeting, the American official reported back that Megrahi had been receiving chemotherapy treatment for cancer while in Greenock Prison and that the three-month prognosis of how long he had to live had been signed off by a GP.

The spokesman rejected both claims, adding that it was “a matter of public record that Megrahi was not on chemotherapy treatment in Scotland at any point”. (...)

Tory justice spokesman John Lamont said: “There is a gaping contradiction between the words of the US Senate Committee and the Scottish Government. Both cannot be true.

“Either Mr Megrahi was receiving more medical treatment, so far undisclosed, or he wasn’t. The only way to deal with this is to publish the medical reports.”

Labour spokesman Richard Baker said: “The difference between the Senate’s representatives’ view of their meeting and the Government’s view is mutually exclusive and does not get us any nearer to why Megrahi was actually released.

“Only the full publication of the medical evidence will get to the bottom of this.”

The Scottish Government spokesman said it had published “everything we can, except where permission was withheld by the US and UK administrations, and all of the evidence demonstrates that the Justice Secretary’s decisions to reject the prisoner transfer application and grant compassionate release were taken on judicial grounds alone – and not political, economic, diplomatic or any other factors”.

[The same newspaper publishes two letters on the subject. They read as follows:]

It seems the mantra in the Labour Party these days is: “It’s history … move on.” We heard it at the Manchester conference: New Labour is “history … move on”; Tony Blair and Iraq are “history … move on”; Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling and the financial mess are “history … move on”.

It is surprising, therefore, that word of this does not seem to have percolated down to their Scottish justice spokesman, Richard Baker, who continues to give ammunition to, or ingratiate himself with, the US Senate committee investigating the early release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi , by querying the professional opinions of the Scottish doctors and cancer specialists whose prognosis of Megrahi’s advanced condition led to his compassionate release.

If they can say of the calls for an appeal against Megrahi’s dubious conviction: “It’s history … move on,” why, then, can Mr Baker not follow apparent Labour Party policy on the Megrahi release?

Perhaps he needs to read it in black and white. “It’s history, Mr Baker … move on.”
Donnie MacNeill, Livingston.

I hear the US senators are now describing the release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi as “incredibly flawed, if not purposefully manipulated”.

Ironically, that seems to describe the original conviction almost perfectly.
Morag Kerr, Peeblessshire.


  1. It is deeply worrying that Baker and his counterpart on the Tory benches at Holyrood are both apparently unconcerned with the clear breach of Megrahi's rights here when they call for full publication of his medical records. Medical records are fully covered by Data Protection laws in the UK. I think this really shows how far these Parties have strayed over the matter of Megrahi. And how much further they are prepared to go up to and including defying privacy LAWS designed to protect all patients? If it doesn't matter in Megrahi's case that Data Protection laws apply, who is next? We are either ALL protected or we aren't. Baker especially should make up his mind which it is!

  2. Love the second letter. Short but deadly. Best kind! Well written MK.

  3. Can anyone tell me that Megrahi was definitely NOT getting chemotherapy treatment whilst in prison? If not, why are Baker and Lamont being so meddlesome, then? They are certainly not doing it to help out MacAskill. It's as if they know something on this subject and are quite prepared to ramp up the pressure. And if they do know something, maybe that's what staffer was actually reporting back - from his meeting: "..met with two whistleblowers who tell me..".

  4. Not sure about that one Blogiston. I know it has been stated he did not. I think we talked about this screeds back remember and wondered why it wasn't started here?

  5. I wouldn't write to the Herald (or Daily Mail) because they are allowing web/search crawlers (like findarticles) to access their database of some HTML display meta tags that are set to false to be read, and interpreted by a policy they have no say in. And that meta tag is where the Herald (or Daily Mail) store the postal addresses of the letter writers. The server our browsers deal with is interpreting the tags correctly so that info is not displayed.

  6. Blogiston, this is from the report on the SG site.

    "...reached firm consensus that the disease was, after several different trials of treatment, "hormone resistant" that is, resistant to any treatment options of known effectiveness."

  7. Megrahi's own statements say that he knew the hormone treatment had failed and he would need to start chemotherapy soon, are perfectly clear. He adds that he knows chemo is tough, and he very much wants the support of his family while he goes through it.

    I can see no reason at all for him to be making that up. Why would he? Also, I don't know whether the chemo for prostate cancer causes hair loss, but I note he had all his hair when he was filmed boarding the plane. Later pictures have all shown him wearing a cap, as far as I can remember.

    My feeling is that the "staffer" misunderstood something, and the senators have simply assumed his misunderstanding is right and everybody else is "lying".

  8. but I note he had all his hair when he was filmed boarding the plane..
    He was actually wearing full Greenock uniform which included a white shell suit and baseball cap (Burberry to be authentic). You see, that was the only way to protect him from a random stabbing between leaving HMP Greenock and the airport. However, this is all splitting hairs.

  9. Ha.... ha....

    I realise now that I'm thinking of the footage of his arrival at Tripoli. He had changed from the shell suit into an ordinary suit, with a collar and tie I think, and he no longer had a hat or cap on.

    They must have had the civvy clothes waiting on the plane for him to get changed. Maybe they had a wig too?

  10. He had a bullet proof vest on too that day.

  11. Labour spokesman Richard Baker said: “The difference between the Senate’s representatives’ view of their meeting and the Government’s view is mutually exclusive and does not get us any nearer to why Megrahi was actually released.

    “Only the full publication of the medical evidence will get to the bottom of this.”

    No, even in the conspiracy theory witch-hunt construct spewing from Washington, this would explain the "how," not the "why."

  12. Well, since the "why" obviously had nothing to do with BP, what do you think?

    Gimme an A.

    Gimme a P.

    Gimme a P.

    Gimme an E....