Monday, 15 August 2011

Downing Street powerless to force return of Lockerbie bomber

[This is the headline over a report published this evening on The Telegraph website. It reads in part:]

Downing Street has admitted that it is powerless to force the return of the Lockerbie bomber to Britain almost two years after the Libyan was released from a Scottish prison on compassionate grounds.

David Cameron's official spokesman said that there was "no mechanism" to return Abdelbaset al-Megrahi to Britain even if he was captured by Libyan rebels or American special forces.

The admission came amid some speculation that the bomber may be seized and passed to Nato forces during the ongoing conflict in Libya.

This weekend marks the second anniversary of the release of Megrahi who was freed from prison after a medical assessment that he only had a few months to live after being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. He was released after serving just eight years of a 27-year sentence for killing 270 people in the Lockerbie airline bombing.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister's spokesman was asked if the second anniversary would lead to a renewed push to return Megrahi to prison.

"I don't think there is any mechanism by which he can be brought back to the United Kingdom," he said.

The Daily Telegraph understands that the British Government believes that the Scottish authorities would have had to have led any attempt to bring back Megrahi. However, the Scottish authorities have repeatedly defended the decision to release the prisoner and say that the "due and proper process" was followed.

The Libyan Government insisted last week that Megrahi's condition had recently taken "another turn for the worse" after doctors discovered a growth on his neck.


  1. I don't think the Daily Telegraph understands very much.

    Starting with the length of his sentence served by Megrahi. Which was precisely TEN years, four months and fifteen days. Not "just eight years".

    If they can't even get such basics right, what hope for them?

  2. The unthinking "eight years" is the standard version from journalists, US senators and others (though Robert Mueller did get it right).

    A partial explanation may be that the Scottish Government's press release on 20 August 2009 read:

    "Al-Megrahi had served eight years..."

    There's also an idea that he served seven years

    because his sentence was counted as starting after the first appeal!

  3. It's in black and white that his sentence began on 5th April 1999, so there's really no excuse for any of them.

    Least of all Scottish Government press releases.