The British and Scottish governments have just released “all relevant” correspondence in relation to the release of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdulbaset al-Megrahi, to try and stem criticism over his release.

You can read the Scottish documents here, and the British ones here.

Naturally, the press is already poring over every word. The big find for eagle-eyed investigators so far has been minutes of a meeting between British and Libyan officials in which is was “made clear” that Prime Minister Gordon Brown did not “want Mr Megrahi to pass away in prison”.

There’s also the warning from Abdulate Alobidi, Libyan minister for Europe, who told Scottish officials on November 18 last year that the “situation was bad for relations between the UK and Libya, it would be a major problem should Mr Megrahi die in prison and would be viewed as a form of death sentence”. The Times also notes “he made a similar point on January 22”.

New York Times blog, The Lede, focuses on a particularly interesting aspect of the documents — how it was that al-Megrahi came to be released, despite apparent British assurances to the US at the time of the bombing that the man who brought down a Pan Am plane would never leave the UK.

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill — the man forced to make the unpopular decision — sent a letter to Britain’s foreign minister David Miliband upbraiding the British government for not making sure Lockerbie prisoners were an exception to the foreign prisoner transfer agreement it ratified in April:

Despite our request and warning of potential consequences, your Government did not secure an exclusion to prevent anyone convicted of offences related to the Lockerbie Air Disaster from being eligible for transfer.

MacAskill also requested access to any evidence that would prove British promises to the US, so he could take these into consideration, but was rebuffed on the basis that Scotland must still defer to Britain on anything involving foreign affairs. Thus he was unable to confirm this crucial detail.

Have you spotted anything else interesting?

Follow Crikey’s full Lockerbie coverage here.

Peter Fray

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