Sunday 12 September 2010

A view from Malta

[What follows is an excerpt from Howard Hodgson's column The world around us in today's edition of The Malta Independent on Sunday.]

Not content with attempting to make a villain of BP over the Gulf oil spill in a vain attempt to deflect attention away from his own disastrous presidential performance, as I reported in June, Barak Obama has now attempted another spin trick worthy of even the ghastly Tony Blair and his hypocritical and morally bankrupt lieutenant Alistair Campbell.

America’s first mixed race President, when his politically motivated attacks on ‘British’ Petroleum failed to turn the tide of public disapproval of him, decided, instead of listening to the reasons for the disquiet, to launch another smokescreen by questioning whether perhaps BP had influenced the British and Scottish governments into releasing the convicted Lockerbie Bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi.

You will recall that on 21 December 1988, Pan Am 103 exploded in mid air over Lockerbie in Scotland killing some 270 people in total, a high percentage of which were US citizens.

Eventually, al-Megrahi was convicted of this atrocity, despite protesting his innocence and with many feeling that the conviction was unsafe due to the amount of conflicting and dubious evidence. He was sentenced to serve life in a Scottish jail.

Then in 2009, he was released on humanitarian grounds due to the fact that Scottish doctors said that he had only a matter of weeks to live given the terminal nature of the cancer he was suffering from.

Many Americans, not least relatives of those slaughtered, were appalled – a feeling that became more intense when al-Megrahi was still alive a year later. This was not always an emotion shared by relatives of the British victims, some of whom seemed to have studied the case more closely and were far less convinced of his guilt.

Nevertheless, as al-Megrahi was convicted in a proper court of law, one can perhaps sympathise with those who thought that he should die in prison given the nature of his crime.

Now enter stage left America’s inept President Obama, who suggests that BP had enlisted Gordon Brown’s corrupt British government to offer the release of al-Megrahi as a sweetener to Colonel Gaddafi in order to land a 900-million-dollar deal with Libya.

Therefore, a wicked British government had colluded with a wicked ‘British’ company (38 per cent US owned against 39 per cent UK owned and boasting more US employees than British by the way) to help a wicked murderer be re-united with his wicked boss Colonel Gaddafi. What a very convenient distraction despite the denials of BP and the British, Scottish and Libyan governments. But who knows the truth? Certainly not me.


  1. Dear all,

    Thank heavens for the Maltese press.

    It is Sunday, so, on a light-hearted note:

    I don't know whether or not the facility still exists or not in Scots Law, however, I have a vague recollection of a couple armed bank robbers not so many moons ago being permitted to challenge the monarch's champion (presumably the Lord Advocate or some such eminence) to a duel in Queen's Park, Edinburgh, in order to have their convictions quashed.

    Given that Howard Hodgeson's column in the Malta Independent on Sunday finishes with a comment on the travails facing the world of cricket these days and that, as we know, the Scottish Government seems to be shying away from instituting any form of inquiry under its auspices into the al-Megrahi affair, I, therefore, think it would be an excellent notion if the signatories of JFM were to field a first class eleven against the best the Crown can come up with to finally settle the issue of the Zeist verdict once and for all in a test match special.

    There is no question in my mind that what with an alternating combination of the devilish spin bowling of Prof Black from one end and a few of Prof Chomky's missile like deliveries from the opposite end, Sir Teddy Taylor as wicket keeper, not to mention the talents of Archbishop Tutu, Jim Swire, John Pilger et al as JFM's top end batsmen, we would trounce the opposition hands down.

    What do you reckon?

    Toodle pip,
    Robert Forrester.

  2. I'm afraid that in the case referred to (H M Advocate v Burnside, April 1985) it was agreed that trial by combat was no longer competent. There's an interesting article on the case in (1986) 7 Journal of Legal History 90.

    The author of this article is a very enthusiastic cricketer. I would ask him to substitute for me in Quincey Riddle's cricket match

  3. But Sutherland, Coulsfield and MacLean would make an excellent trio of spinners...


  4. I think they'd be disqualified for match fixing.