Sunday, 28 July 2013

"Dirty dealing" by UK Government over Megrahi prisoner transfer agreement

[An article in today’s edition of The Sunday Telegraph discloses that the UK Government linked its conclusion of a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya to an arms-export deal.  It reads in part:]

An email sent by the then British ambassador in Tripoli details how a prisoner transfer agreement would be signed once Libya “fulfils its promise” to buy an air defence system.

The disclosure is embarrassing for members of the then Labour government, which always insisted that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s release was not linked to commercial deals.

The email, which contained a briefing on the UK’s relations with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, was sent on June 8 2008 by Sir Vincent Fean, the then UK ambassador, to Tony Blair’s private office, ahead of a visit soon after he stepped down as prime minister.

Mr Blair flew to Tripoli to meet Gaddafi on June 10, in a private jet provided by the dictator, one of at least six visits Mr Blair made to Libya after quitting Downing Street.

The briefing, which runs to 1,300 words, contains revealing details about how keen Britain was to do deals with Gaddafi. It also suggests that:

Þ the UK made it a key objective for Libya to invest its £80 billion sovereign wealth fund through the City of London

Þ the UK was privately critical of then President George Bush for “shooting the US in the foot” by continuing to put a block on Libyan assets in America, in the process scuppering business deals

Þ the Department for International Development was eager to use another Libyan fund worth £130 million to pay for schemes in Sierra Leone and other poverty-stricken countries.

The release of Megrahi in August 2009 caused a huge furore, with the Government insisting he had been released on compassionate grounds because he was suffering from terminal cancer, and that the decision was taken solely by the Scottish government. (...)

Libya had been putting pressure on the UK to release Megrahi and in May 2007, just before he left Downing Street, Mr Blair travelled to Sirte to meet Gaddafi and Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi, Libya’s then prime minister.

At that meeting, according to Sir Vincent’s email, Mr Blair and Mr Baghdadi agreed that Libya would buy the missile defence system from MBDA, a weapons manufacturer part-owned by BAE Systems. The pair also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a prisoner transfer agreement (PTA), which the Libyans believed would pave the way for Megrahi’s release.

The British government initially intended the agreement to explicitly exclude Megrahi. However, ministers relented under pressure from Libya.

In December 2007, Jack Straw, then justice secretary, told his Scottish counterpart that he had been unable to secure an exclusion, but said any application to transfer Megrahi under the agreement would still have to be signed off by Scottish ministers.

With Mr Blair returning a year later — as a guest of Gaddafi on his private jet — the government appears to have used the chance to press its case for the arms deal to be sealed. At the time, Britain was on the brink of an economic and banking crisis, and Libya, through the Libyan Investment Authority, had billions of pounds in reserves.

Sir Vincent wrote: “There is one bilateral issue which I hope TB [Tony Blair] can raise, as a legacy issue. On 29 May 07 in Sirte, he and Libya’s PM agreed that Libya would buy an air defence system (Jernas) from the UK (MBDA). One year on, MBDA are now back in Tripoli (since 8 June) aiming to agree and sign the contract now — worth £400 million, and up to 2,000 jobs in the UK. (...)

“Linked (by Libya) is the issue of the 4 bilateral Justice agreements about which TB signed an MoU with Baghdadi on 29 May. The MoU says they will be negotiated within the year: they have been. They are all ready for signature in London as soon as Libya fulfils its promise on Jernas.”

The PTA was signed in November 2008 by Bill Rammell, a foreign office minister.

The disclosure of the email, which was obtained by The Sunday Telegraph as a result of a Freedom of Information request, angered the relatives of victims of the bombing.

Pam Dix, whose brother Peter died at Lockerbie, said: “It appears from this email that the British government was making a clear correlation between arms dealing with Libya and the signing of the prisoner transfer agreement.

“We were told Megrahi’s release was a matter strictly for the Scottish government but this shows the dirty dealing that was going on behind the scenes.”

Lord Mandelson, who was business secretary when Megrahi was released, said he was unaware of any possible links between commercial deals and negotiations over a release.

He said: “Based on the information that I was given at the time, I made clear the government’s position. I was not aware of the correspondence covered in this FOI request.”


  1. More and more it appears, the 'Lockerbie case' is for Scotland an unpleasant SHELTER >>> with multiple emergency EXITS >>> < but the emergency exit closed on 21st of December 2013 <<< 25th anniversary of the 'Lockerbie Tragedy'...

    Slowly shows - student Khaled Jaafar (1) victims of Pan Am 103, over Lockerbie and the infrastructure at the Airport Frankfurt, were abused for to bring the blood trail of Lockerbie, via Frankfurt and Malta to Libya !

    The whole incident with the potential impact is in progress and will be than published as piecework, as soon as possible.
    The Scottish trial in Kamp van Zeist, was far from fair and proper !

    The late Libyan ex official Abdelbaset, al Megrahi has nothing to do with the 'Lockerbie Tragedy. Honor his name...

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Telecommunication Switzerland. Webpage:

  2. MISSION LOCKERBIE, 2013 (google translation, german/english):

    The "dirty arms export" deal for the suspect "hot match" between Blair & Gaddafi, was only a secundary matter.
    The very big deal was the commanded withdrawal, Al Megrahi's Appeal, for its immediate freedom - with an additional secret deal, Scotland was through that, not confronted with the truth about the "Lockerbie affair"...

    Responsible officials in Scotland knew, that after a positive judgment for Al Megrahi - Libya would had demand for a reputational and finacial damage of about $ 50 billion, which may still be possible today ?
    It shows today in the 'Sunday Telegraph', the UK Government soiled himself once more to distract the truth of the substantionellen "Lockerbie affair" ! Another emergency escape attempt >>>

    Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd

  3. “The British government initially intended the PTA to explicitly exclude Megrahi. However, ministers relented under pressure from Libya”.

    No, the PTA was explicitly designed for Megrahi as a way of returning him to Libya without his appeal being heard.

    But how to do it without Britain or America being held responsible (blame Scotland) and without the official aim being admitted (blame dirty deals).

    Or are we really to believe that after the Zeist show trial and years of economic warfare against an innocent people the British government promoted the PTA, but only agreed to include Megrahi after bowing to pressure from the victim!

    Also trying to sell Libya anti-aircraft weapons implies the British government were playing hardball over the PTA when in fact they were desperate to return Megrahi.

    But this dirty deal acted as a smokescreen and was short-sighted if true, considering what happened next, which is why I doubt the weapons were ever delivered?

  4. Re. Daily Mail 29/7/13 Page 8

    After long article and large headline,

    ‘Lockerbie bomber’s release linked to a £400m arms deal with Libya’.

    The last sentence reads,

    (Arms Company) ‘MBDA said yesterday the Libyans never signed the arms deal’.

  5. Once again a "Scottish Wrestling Show" in connection with the "Lockerbie Affair"...