What follows is taken from an item originally posted on this blog on this date in 2008:
Jack Straw, Lord Chancellor and Minister of Justice in the United Kingdom Government (and Foreign Secretary at the time of the Libya-UK prisoner transfer negotiations) has a letter published today in The Herald denying that any deal has been done with Libya regarding the repatriation of Abdelbaset Megrahi. A prisoner transfer agreement has been concluded with Libya, from which Megrahi is not specifically excluded, but any decision on whether he will benefit under it rests with the Scottish Government. [RB: The letter itself is no longer to be found on The Herald’s website. However, the coverage of the story on the BBC News website can be accessed here.]
None of what Mr Straw says is in any way controversial. But it avoids the issue: what were the Libyans led to expect and believe when the UK Foreign Office was negotiating the agreement; and why was the Scottish Government (host to the only Libyan prisoner in Britain about whom Libya is in any way concerned) kept in the dark? These issues are dealt with in earlier posts on this blog. See
[RB: The second of these items contains the following passage:]
The truth of the matter is this. The UK Foreign Office (and officials in the office of the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair) entered into negotiations with Libya for a reciprocal prisoner transfer agreement. Both sides were perfectly well aware that the only Libyan prisoner in a British jail about whom the Libyans had the slightest concern was Megrahi. The Libyan negotiators believed, rightly believed, and were known by the UK negotiators to believe that the agreement they were drafting would cover Megrahi. The London Government did not have the courtesy to inform the Scottish Government (which is responsible for prisons and prisoners in Scotland) that these negotiations were taking place. When the Scottish Government found out about them and complained to the UK Government, the latter announced that (a) the proposed agreement was not intended to cover Megrahi and (b) even if it were, the final decision on the transfer of any Libyan prisoner in a Scottish jail would rest with the Scottish Government. The latter proposition was and is correct. The former was not: it was at best disingenuous and at worst (and probably more accurately) an outright lie.