[This is the headline over a report published today by The Press Association news agency following an appearance by Dr Karol Sikora on the BBC Daily Politics programme. It reads as follows:]
A cancer expert who examined the Lockerbie bomber in prison has said he is being kept alive by "experimental drugs".
Professor Karol Sikora said that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was being given medication not available on the NHS.
was controversially freed from prison on compassionate grounds more
than two years ago after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
was said to be three months from death when he was released from
Greenock prison on August 20 2009 following a decision by Scottish
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.
Megrahi returned to Libya upon
his release. Cancer expert Prof Sikora was asked by the Libyan
government to provide an independent medical assessment of Megrahi and
visited him in prison in July that year.
On the BBC Daily Politics
show, he was asked: "You did the health assessment of al-Megrahi giving
him three months to live or thereabouts. He is still alive. How has he
managed to survive so long more than two years later?"
"He has been on experimental drugs, including one that was developed in
the UK and is not available on the NHS, which is quite ironic." He
added: "My opinion wasn't taken into account by the Scottish Government.
Nine doctors looked at it and they all said three months. They were
using standard NHS practice in Glasgow in 2008, 2009."
Megrahi is the only person to have been convicted of the bombing of
Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie in December 1988,
killing 270 people.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Mr
al-Megrahi is an extremely sick man, dying of terminal prostate cancer.
He was released on compassionate grounds based on the recommendations of
the Parole Board, the prison governor and the medical report of the
Scottish Prison Service's most senior health professional, Dr Andrew
"Dr Fraser is a professional of impeccable integrity and
he concluded that his clinical assessment was that a three-month
prognosis was a reasonable estimate, drawing on the work of a range of
specialists and other Scottish health service professionals involved in
al-Megrahi's care from when he was first diagnosed with cancer in 2008."
[During most of my tenure of office as Professor of Scots Law in the University of Edinburgh, law and medicine students graduated in the same ceremony. The medical graduands were required to swear an oath to the effect, inter alia, that things learned about patients in the course of medical practice would not, save for weighty cause, be divulged. Dr Sikora is not an Edinburgh graduate.]