Martin Bright

10 Days Away and Libya Still on the Front Pages

10 Days Away and Libya Still on the Front Pages
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It's not often that you take a holiday to return to the same story running nearly two weeks later.

Just before I went away, I updated my Facebook page to say that I thought the release of Megrahi would rebound on the UK government, but I had no idea it would develop into a full-blown crisis.

Bill Rammell was filmed in very unfortunate circumstances making his confession last night. But well may he sweat -- perhaps he agreed to be shot like that in sympathy for the dissidents held in Gaddafi's desert jails.

But the game is up now. Rammell, Miliband, Straw and Brown all decided that they didn't want Megrahi to die in a British jail. Why? Perhaps because they thought it was cruel to let a man dying of cancer perish in Scotland. Or perhaps not.

Another great intervention from Geoffrey Robertson QC in today's Independent. For me, Robertson expresses perfectly how a liberal should respond in these circumstances. These are the two key paragraphs:

"The Justice Secretary acted with unseemly haste, making his decision on 19 August, less than four weeks after Libya's application. It must have been blindingly obvious that the release of Megrahi would coincide with Gaddafi's 40th anniversary celebrations, where it would be hailed as a triumph. It must have been equally obvious that it would be an act of cruelty to all those who have suffered from Libya's terrorist crimes.

The decision will seriously damage the world-wide campaign to abolish the death penalty for international crimes. This relies upon the validity of assurances (such as that given by Robin Cook to Madeleine Albright) that genocidaires and torturers and terrorists will never be released. Now, such assurances cannot credibly be given by democratic governments, because Mr MacAskill's action illustrates the risk that within a few years, politicians will contrive to breach them."

I was delighted to see the piece by my friend Huda Abuzeid in this week's Spectator: a passionate argument for shunning the repulsive Libyan regime from a woman whose own father was murdered by Gaddafi's assassins on the streets of London. If you haven't read it yet, you can find it here.