David Blackburn

Convenient timing

Convenient timing
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Guess who has popped-up as David Cameron departs for Washington? The Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who is defying the gravest of medical prognoses.

It’s all suspiciously convenient, given Britain and America’s recent terse relations. What’s more BP, the international bogeyman, is in the firing line – Hillary Clinton will investigate rumours that the company conspired with the British government to include al-Megrahi in a Prisoner Transfer Agreement, and that BP pressured the Scottish executive to release al-Megrahi last summer.

She’s wasting her time: this well of fetid intrigue was capped last summer. Britain and Libya had to produce a PTA to normalise diplomatic relations so that trade could be opened and Gadaffi hired in the war on terror. The PTA mechanism had to include al-Megrahi, the only high profile Libyan in British custody, Gadaffi would not agree otherwise. The correspondence between Alex Salmond and British Justice Secretaries, Lord Falconer and Jack Straw, shows that the British government was determined to include al-Megrahi in the PTA, and that the Scottish executive, under whose jurisdiction al-Megrahi was incarcerated, were opposed. Eventually, the Scottish executive released al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds to minimise embarrassment.

Quite why the Scottish government did not cede to the sovereign supremacy of a British-Libyan PTA is beyond me, though I suspect grandiose vanity has something to do with it. The Lockerbie bomber’s current rude good health is extremely embarrassing for the Scottish executive. But, as Alex Massie wrote yesterday, his release says as much about medicine as it does about the Holyrood administration: the medical examinations were thorough and impartial. To whoever is behind this sudden interest in all things al-Meghrahi: there is no smoking gun, just a lot of hubris.