Monday, 10 October 2011

Tony Blair: ‘They keep insinuating and I keep saying it’s not true’

[This is the headline over an item published today on The 6th Floor, a blog on the website of The New York Times. The author, Andrew Goldman, recently interviewed Tony Blair.  Here are a couple of the questions and answers:]

Q. The British press has been speculating a great deal about the fact that you visited Libya twice just weeks before the 2009 release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and that you had something to do with achieving his freedom.

A. This really is objectionable. When I was British prime minister, when I left office, Megrahi was specifically excluded from the prisoner transfer program. In any event he wasn’t released under that. Everyone is always saying, “Didn’t the Libyans ever raise it.” In fact they were always raising it, and I was always explaining the same thing to them which is there’s nothing that can be done about it. You have to go to the Scottish executive, not the British government.

Q. So you see this as just another example of the British press’s distortions about you?

A. It’s not all of the British press. It’s a section of it. Whenever you read about me in the British media you want to look at your sources very carefully because there are certain papers that just write this stuff the whole time that simply isn’t true. It’s just ridiculous.

[I dispute the accuracy of Mr Blair's first answer.  As I have said elsewhere:

"The memorandum of understanding regarding prisoner transfer that Tony Blair entered into in the course of the "deal in the desert" in May 2007, and which paved the way for the formal prisoner transfer agreement, was intended by both sides to lead to the rapid return of Mr Megrahi to his homeland. This was the clear understanding of Libyan officials involved in the negotiations and to whom I have spoken.

"It was only after the memorandum of understanding was concluded that [it belatedly sunk in] that the decision on repatriation of this particular prisoner was a matter not for Westminster and Whitehall but for the devolved Scottish Government in Edinburgh, and that government had just come into the hands of the Scottish National Party and so could no longer be expected supinely to follow the UK Labour Government's wishes. That was when the understanding between the UK Government and the Libyan Government started to unravel, to the considerable annoyance and distress of the Libyans, who had been led to believe that repatriation under the PTA was only months away.

This blogpost has now (Tuesday morning) been picked up by Scottish lawyers' magazine The Firm in a news item headed Blair's account of Megrahi release challenged.]


  1. "could no longer be expected supinely to follow the UK Labour Government's wishes"

    How I wish that were true! Kudos to the writer for that careful avoidance of the split infinitive. That praise aside, it's painfully clear to me (as an SNP member) that this was a decision taken in foreign parts for foreign motives.

    So I'm standing outside gazing hopefully skywards, waiting for the chickens coming home to roost.

  2. Mission Lockerbie, 2011: (doc. nr.7042.rtf) All in all coincidence or not ???

    Yes when the British prime minister Tony Blair left the office at Downing street 10, on 27th June 2007, Abdelbaset Al Megrahi was specifically excluded from the prisoner transfer program in this time, but not later...
    On the same time Al Megrahi's case was referred back to the Court of Criminal Appeal by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission on 27/28th June, 2007.
    Played Tony Blair later a background role in prisoner transfer supplement, that included Abdelbaset Al Megrahi ?
    The Scottish Ministers received an application from the Libyan Government requesting the transfer of Mr Al-Megrahi, under the terms of the Prisoner Transfer Agreement, on 5 May 2009.
    The transfer deal was one of four co-operation agreements signed by the director of legal affairs at the Libyan Foreign Ministry and the British ambassador to Tripoli.

    These agreements open the way for ... judicial authorities in both countries to co-operate in the field of exchange of wanted suspects, transfer of prisoners, and carrying out judicial decisions.

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Switzerland URL: www.lockerbie