The family of released Lockerbie bomber Abdulbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi is preparing to sue Britain for false imprisonment, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi claimed last night.
The Libyan leader said Megrahi remained “very ill” with prostate cancer following his controversial release by the Scottish Government on compassionate grounds in August last year, and blamed his poor health on intentional “neglect” he suffered in prison.
Col Gaddafi said his family will mount a compensation claim once the 58-year-old dies.
“After he passes away his family will demand compensation because he was deliberately neglected in prison,” he said.
“His health was not looked after in prison, and he didn’t have any periodic examinations. I wish him a long life. He was released because he was considered dead, and yet he was still alive.”
Col Gaddafi made the claims during a speech to students and staff at the London School of Economics (LSE) via a live video-link, which is understood to have been organised through his son Saif Al-Gaddafi who has a doctorate from the university.
The compensation claim could run into several million pounds, according to Libyan diplomatic officials who attended the talk.
Col Gaddafi alleged that the case against the former intelligence agent had “been fabricated and created by” former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher and former US President Ronald Reagan.
He even suggested that CIA agents had been behind the 1988 terrorist atrocity, in which 270 people were killed after a Pan Am airline blew up over Scotland.
“These are the people who created this conspiracy,” said Col Gaddafi, referring to Lady Thatcher’s and Mr Reagan’s alleged role in a Megrahi's murder conviction and life sentence over the attack.
“The charges directed towards Libya were based on unfounded evidence in an attempt to weaken the Libyan Revolution and limit its resources and abilities.” (...)
The theory about the CIA’s alleged involvement in the Lockerbie disaster has already been advanced in a controversial documentary film and a number of books.
The Maltese Double Cross — Lockerbie a 1994 documentary produced by the late US director Allan Francovich, alleges that a bomb was introduced onto the ill-fated flight in a CIA-protected suitcase, and had nothing to do with Megrahi.
“Everybody considers him [Megrahi] to be innocent,” Col Gaddafi added.
[The above is from a report just published on The Telegraph website.
There is a similar report in The Scotsman. The report in The Sun contains the following quotes from relatives of victims of the Lockerbie disaster:]
But last night Susan Cohen, 72 - who lost her only daughter Theo, 20, in the 1988 Pan Am disaster - branded the threat of legal action "outrageous and insulting".
Susan, of New Jersey, US, said: "If this legal action were to go ahead - and we have no reason to think that it will not - then it would be an absolute outrage.
"Megrahi was found guilty at trial, and all this bluster from Gaddafi is designed to do one thing - to one day get a not guilty verdict for that man.
"The families of those killed who live in the US will be horrified to learn of what he has said."
Peter Lowenstein, 75, of New York, whose son Alexander, 21, was killed in the atrocity, claimed Megrahi was "a lunatic". He added: "There was a trial, the man was found guilty.
"The evidence, although circumstantial, was overwhelming.
"I see no reason and no rationale for suing the British government for unlawful imprisonment - that is absurd." (...)
Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora also perished in the bombing, welcomed the news that Megrahi's relatives could sue.
Dr Swire - who believes Megrahi to be innocent - said: "This might offer a chance to review the legal case against Megrahi.
"I think those of us who still seek the truth of what happened at Lockerbie would welcome that course of action."
And a Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Scottish Government do not doubt the conviction of al-Megrahi.
"He was given the same high standard of NHS care as any other prisoner within the Scottish prison system."
[Further reaction from the Scottish Government and others is to be found in this report on the BBC News website. What the Scottish Conservatives think about it can be read here. Is it any wonder that the party is dying on its feet in Scotland?
Any action for false imprisonment or for inadequate medical treatment while in prison would have to be brought against the Scottish, not the British, Government. While Megrahi's conviction remains in place, any action for false imprisonment would be doomed to almost inevitable failure. In an action based on neglect or inadequate medical care by the Scottish Prison Service, his family would have to prove, on a balance of probabilities, (a) that there was such neglect and (b) that the neglect caused or materially contributed to his death. I see no realistic prospect of success in this.
A better course of action for the Megrahi family would be a further application to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, in the hope that they could surmount the hurdles recently erected by section 7 of the Cadder emergency legislation.]