Thursday, 30 November 2017

US and UK were ‘double-dealing’ on Megrahi release

[This is part of the headline over a report in today’s edition of The National. The following are excerpts:]

It was one of the most controversial decisions taken during Alex Salmond’s time as First Minister – now he is to revisit the 2009 release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi with the man who made that call, former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill.

In a special St Andrew’s Day edition of the Alex Salmond Show on RT today, MacAskill makes the explosive claim that Scotland was “slapped about mercilessly” by the British and American governments, who he accuses of “double dealing”.

Salmond himself says the identification evidence which helped convict Megrahi is “open to question” and berates the “total cynicism” of those who attacked the Scottish Government over the decision to send the Libyan home on compassionate grounds because he had terminal prostate cancer. He says the UK Government wanted Megrahi sent home to secure an oil deal. (...)

Salmond and MacAskill were colleagues in the Scottish Government when both came under huge pressure not to release Megrahi.

After they did so, his life was prolonged by American-made cancer drugs not available in Scotland before he died in 2012.

MacAskill tells Salmond: “A month after I was being criticised for releasing Megrahi, it was coming to light that the British [Government] through the Police Service of Northern Ireland, were training Gaddafi’s elite battalion.

“It’s also since become clear that Britain, through and with assistance of the United States, was rendering prisoners to Colonel Gaddafi.

“So this was about building a relationship between the West and Gaddafi and Scotland was slapped about mercilessly. I believe we did the right thing and yet Britain and America were conniving to achieve what we delivered, but blaming us for doing what we did for the right reasons.”

Asked by Salmond if the full truth about Lockerbie would ever be known, MacAskill replies: “I think it is going to be a bit like the grassy knoll at Dallas. I think there will always be doubts because there will always be people that don’t accept it and there still is that million-dollar question of how did they get the suitcase on board at Malta? But it’s got to be remembered that as a consequence of getting it on board at Malta, Pan Am went into administration.

“So, I think it went on at Malta we don’t quite know how. I have a theory in my book about how I think it went on, but I think there is no doubt that Libya did it, but they were aided and abetted by others. Megrahi had a role, but it was a relatively minor role.”

[Kenny MacAskill’s “theory” and his conviction that Libya “did it” and that “Megrahi had a role” are convincingly demolished in this review of the MacAskill book by James Robertson and this review by John Ashton.]

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