[What follows is the text of a report by Lucy Adams that was published in The Herald on this date in 2009:]
An eminent psychologist and expert in cancer support who assessed the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing has spoken for the first time about his fears for the Libyan.
Dr James Brennan, consultant clinical psychologist at the Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre, warned that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi is so culturally isolated that it is almost impossible for him to come to terms with his terminal illness.
In an exclusive interview with The Herald, Dr Brennan, who is also a senior lecturer in palliative medicine at Bristol University, said that Megrahi was "desperate", partly because he cannot spend his remaining time with his family.
Megrahi, who is serving 27 years in Greenock prison for the bombing of Pan Am 103 in December 1988, was granted the right to a new appeal more than two years ago on six different points that suggested his conviction may have been a miscarriage of justice.
Since then, the appeal has been blighted by delays and last September Megrahi was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.
Dr Brennan said: "Physically he is deteriorating, and emotionally he will deteriorate further without suitable support. It would seem to me that the best form of support would be from his family in his own country.
"Human beings can only cope and conceptualise the end of life through language and it is impossible to imagine how to do this in isolation or through occasional telephone calls with family."
In May, the Libyan government applied for prisoner transfer of Megrahi and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has 90 days to make a decision. The transfer cannot go ahead while legal proceedings are live.
Megrahi has signed a document saying he would drop proceedings, but the move has led to an international political impasse as Mr MacAskill says he cannot complete the transfer until Megrahi has dropped the appeal.
Supporters, including Christine Graham MSP, are pushing for his "compassionate release" as a preferable alternative. Others, including many of the relatives in the US, are furious that the transfer is even under consideration.
"What struck me is just how isolated he is," said Dr Brennan. "He has got so few people he can talk to or relate to. He is cut off from natural systems of support and there is no-one there of a similar cultural background.
"The most important thing when we are facing our mortality is the opportunity to talk about it with friends and family. I have worked in cancer for 17 years and have worked with a lot of people facing the end of their lives and the way they prepare themselves for death is through talking.
"As someone who works in the NHS, it seems inhumane to tell someone they have a fatal illness and then just take them back to their cell. He cannot attend to the things that most people would want to - including preparing their children for the fact he is going to die."
Dr Brennan added: "He seemed very motivated to get his appeal heard. Nonetheless, he seemed desperate and I felt he was very much heading for a major depression.
"He has not made friends in prison. There was someone who worked in the kitchen from India that he got to know, but he has left. This is an educated man and he is pretty offended by the language and blasphemy he hears there.
"To me, he felt very genuine and open. Even though he knows I have no power, he wanted me to know that he is not the monster he has been portrayed as, but a father and husband.