[This is the heading over a post by John Rentoul today on the Eagle Eye blog on the website of The Independent. It reads in part:]
I thought it worth putting something that William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, told The Times last week, outside the pay wall:
"The overall strategy of engaging with Gaddafi to turn him away from a nuclear programme was right, including the contact with the intelligence services. Imagine the greater difficulty we would have had if he had had a whole range of weapons over the last few months." (...)
Thus my surprise that The Sunday Telegraph should have thought that “After he was prime minister, Tony Blair had two meetings with Gaddafi” was worth the front-page lead. Laden with innuendo about the media myth of the release of the Lockerbie bomber that is simply wrong.
We know that Blair wanted Megrahi out (or, rather, that he wanted Gaddafi to think that he was trying), but that it was not his decision. It was the decision of the Scottish executive, namely Alex Salmond, the Scottish National Party leader, and Kenny MacAskill, his justice minister.
Salmond would not have released Megrahi because Blair wanted him to. Salmond hates Blair, whom he tried to “impeach” over Iraq (showing no better understanding of the English language than the UK constitution or what was right), and the sentiment is warmly returned.
(It is not legally or formally relevant, but it is not irrelevant that there are serious doubts about Megrahi’s guilt.)