Friday, 15 April 2011

No Lockerbie apology, says Salmond

[This is the headline over a report issued by the UK Press Association news agency. It reads in part:]

Alex Salmond rejected a challenge from former Conservative leader Michael Howard to apologise for freeing the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, saying he would "take no lectures" from Westminster politicians.

Speaking on the BBC's Question Time programme on Thursday night, First Minister Mr Salmond said the decision to free Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was taken only "on the basis of Scots law".

He was released from jail in August 2009 on compassionate grounds after the Scottish Government was told he had only three months to live.

Mr Salmond also told the audience that "prominent" UK politicians had advocated to the Scottish Government that Megrahi should be released "on the grounds of trade, business and oil".

Former home secretary Mr Howard had earlier said the decision to allow Megrahi to return to Libya was "very mistaken" and called on Mr Salmond and Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to apologise.

But Mr Salmond criticised the UK's policy towards Libya and its head of state Colonel Gaddafi.

He said: "Over the past few years two British prime ministers have been seen hugging him in desert tents, and Britain has been selling arms to Libya.

"And incidentally, Michael, some of your prominent colleagues advocated to the Scottish Government that Mr al-Megrahi should be released not on the grounds of law, but on grounds of trade business and oil.

"I represent an administration, whether you agree or disagree with our decisions, which has taken its decision on the basis of Scots law. I'm not going to take any lectures from Westminster politicians who have been up to their eyes in arms deals and oil and trade and a variety of other dirty affairs."

[Further details can be found in this report on the BBC News website and in this report on the STV News website. The programme itself can now be viewed here on the BBC iPlayer.]


  1. Sadly missed that bit - was watching Nicola Sturgeon on Newsnicht. Hope he gave Howard the same as he gave Peter Hain; that was fun

  2. Oh, it was good. He said that the Zeist court had found that the Lockerbie bombing was an act of state-sponsored terrorism, which inevitably implied Gadaffi was behind it, as he was de facto head of state at the time. But then we had this sickening spectacle of UK prime ministers seen hugging him and cosying up to him for trade and oil deals. So don't ask me to apologise, thankyouverymuch.

    Working from these guys' own basic assumptions (that is, in the security of the Zeist conclusions), it was masterly.

  3. "it was masterly"

    Touch not the cat bot aglove

  4. I forgot to mention that Salmond also remarked in passing that he concluded from the behaviour of the D&G constabulary that Musa Kusa had given them no useful information about Lockerbie, and certainly had given them nothing to support an allegation that he himself was involved.

  5. Well Sinclair we could probably say yes to that but I would still go back to another statement of Salmond's: he said the Scottish Government was answerable only to the people of Scotland.

  6. Sinclair asked: Did Salmond's Privy Council status confer his acquiescence to the Libyan gameplan?

    Members of the Privy Council pledge to "keep secret all matters... treated of in Council". Also, the chronology strongly supports an answer yes to Sinclair's question:

    14 June 2007 "In the Prime Minister's first communication with Mr Salmond since his election a month ago, Tony Blair nominates First Minister Alex Salmond as a Privy Counsellor.

    "The Prime Minister did not congratulate the nationalist leader after his historic win in the Scottish Parliament elections and has yet to reply to a formal letter from Mr Salmond over the possible prison transfer of the Lockerbie bomber. Mr Salmond said he was 'delighted' to accept Mr Blair's nomination."

    27 June 2007 Prime Minister Tony Blair resigns.

    28 June 2007 The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission concluded its four-year review and, having uncovered evidence that a miscarriage of justice could have occurred, the SCCRC granted Megrahi leave to appeal against his Lockerbie bombing conviction for a second time.

    Thus a full fortnight before publication of the SCCRC report, Alex Salmond had been bound to secrecy by his Privy Council oath which did indeed confer his acquiescence to the Libyan gameplan.

  7. And yet we know that Blair's Party, and Government, wanted Megrahi out too. Gaddafi Junior confirmed publicly that when the dealing in the desert was going on Megrahi was "on the table" throughout proceedings.

    The PTA was set up and then there was the row where Salmond reminded Westminster that Megrahi's destiny was not in their hands but Scotland's.

    Sinclair, the Privy Council information you posted on Ian's blog the other day was really helpful. Patrick, your post on the same issue is helpful too.

    What I still don't understand however is why Salmond, of all people, allowed himself to be bound by Privy Council secrecy pacts if he truly was sincere in claiming he was answerable to no one except the Scottish people. He did not qualify that statement: perhaps he should have, especially when it meant that the truth about an atrocity on the scale of Lockerbie would remain unknown.

  8. Let's remember too that his government assisted the UK establishment further when his Justice Minister introduced "emergency" legislation to tie the arms of the SCCRC behind its back in future by reducing its powers. For if anyone manages to get us to a point where we could go for a new appeal the SCCRC can now no longer give approval for that. MacAskill has made it that a judge will make that decision, not the SCCRC. It was down to MacAskill also that we faced such difficulty in having the SCCRC findings published. And worse, both Salmond and MacAskill began insisting publicly that the original flawed trial had produced a verdict that was sound.

    Then, of course, we had to listen to the vomit-inducing speech by MacAskill when he went on about compassion, due process and other drivel.

    The biggest shock? They all got what they wanted. Westminster got Megrahi out without taking the flak: the SNP took the flak (and will forever take the flak) for releasing "the Lockerbie Bomber". They took flak from many on the Privy Council for releasing him when they were all in it together.

    Why Salmond played ball is quite beyond my understanding when he so often claimed he was answerable to none of them. And sadly, tragically, the SNP are now as much a part of the plot to obstruct justice as the rest of the Unionist counterparts. I say tragically because if anyone could have taken them all on and won on the issue of Lockerbie it was Salmond.

  9. Excellent summary, Jo G.

    Of course, the corollary of the oath of secrecy sworn by the Rt Hon Alex Salmond (and by Rt Hon Elish Angiolini, Rt Hon Lord Boyd, Rt Hon Lord McConnell et al.) is that members of the Privy Council must have been told the truth about Lockerbie but are bound not to reveal it.

    I believe that the truth about Lockerbie resides here.