Thursday, 27 July 2017

UK Government "learned significant lessons" after deal in the desert row

[What follows is the text of a Press Association news agency report published on this date in 2010 on the website of The Independent under the headline Coalition to improve Holyrood relations after Lockerbie row:]

The UK Government said today that "significant lessons" have been learned in relations with Scotland after the row over the Lockerbie bomber's release.
The Tory-Lib Dem coalition said it wants to build more "positive relations" with Edinburgh after the fallout from the freeing of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds.
The comments came in a response to a recent Scottish Affairs Select Committee report into relations between the two administrations.
"We believe that there are significant lessons from this disagreement that have already been learnt," the UK Government response said.
"The Government's priority is to build more positive relations with the Scottish Government in all areas."
The SNP Government clashed with the previous Labour administration at Westminster over a controversial "deal in the desert" agreed with Libya three years ago without Edinburgh's knowledge.
The Memorandum of Understanding paved the way for a prisoner transfer agreement (PTA), which Megrahi unsuccessfully applied for to Scottish ministers.
Today's response states: "In future the Government will consider carefully the appropriate balance between interests of confidentiality and the responsibility to keep the Scottish Government informed of international agreements made on its behalf.
"This includes consultation with the devolved administrations on matters relating to international relations which touch upon devolved matters."
Megrahi is the only person convicted of the 1988 bombing in which 270 people were killed. He was released on compassionate grounds last July after medical evidence indicated he only had three months live.
Calls for the decision to release Megrahi to be re-examined grew in volume in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and revelations that BP had lobbied for the PTA, amid concern that ditching it could damage an exploration deal it had signed in Libya.
Foreign Secretary William Hague described Megrahi's release as "wrong and misguided" at the weekend.
The coalition Government also remains committed to maintaining the Scottish Secretary, despite the Lib Dems, who occupy the role through Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP Michael Moore, having previously campaigned for it to be scrapped.
Today's response said: "The Secretary of State for Scotland will play a full and active role in policy formulation, ensuring that the devolution settlement in Scotland is fully respected during policy development, and also ensuring that the UK Government is represented in Scotland."

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