[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.