The SNP has demanded an apology from UK Prime Minister David Cameron after documents uncovered in Libya revealed a Tory peer had sought payment in order to provide political advice to the Gaddafi regime in the run up to the appeal of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.
A letter to Muammar Gaddafi’s fugitive son Saif al-Islam, written by Lord Trefgarne on House of Commons notepaper, shows the ex-Tory Minister sought help in obtaining £1 million for his efforts in helping the regime obtain the return of Mr Megrahi to Libya.
The discovery of the letter, written in June 2007, will be embarrassing to the Tory PM who has consistently attacked the decision to release Mr Megrahi on compassionate grounds, calling it “wrong”.
SNP Westminster Leader Angus Robertson MP has now written to Mr Cameron calling on him to apologise for the conduct of his Tory party colleague.
Mr Robertson said:
“The hypocrisy of the Conservative Party is breathtaking. While David Cameron, Annabel Goldie and Tory MPs and MSPs lined up to attack Scotland’s Justice Secretary for following the due process of Scots Law to the letter in regard to Megrahi, we now know that the noble Tory Lord Trefgarne was plotting to make millions out of Megrahi’s release.
“If David Cameron believes the release of Megrahi was the wrong decision, will he condemn his noble friend who sought to have Megrahi returned to Libya for trade reasons – in defiance of any proper due process – and so that he might make a profit? And if not, why not? David Cameron’s credibility is on the line.”
Last year the Scottish government published a letter written in 2009 by the same former Tory Trade Minister in which he pressed Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to return al-Megrahi to Libya for reasons of trade and business.
The request was firmly rebuffed by Mr MacAskill who replied to him: “I have said quite clearly that my decision will be one based on judicial grounds alone and that economic and political considerations have no place in the process.”
The discovery in Libya of this new letter follows the publication of documents earlier this year that exposed the duplicity of the last UK Labour government who had also provided secret legal advice to the Gaddafi regime.
The secret documents revealed that former Scottish Secretary of State Jim Murphy was part of the chain of communications that revealed the UK government’s desire to help in return for ‘energy deals’.
The Labour MP was included in confidential communications on 13 October 2008, shortly after Mr al-Megrahi was originally diagnosed with terminal cancer. The communications detailed the UK government’s plan to send a letter of legal advice to the Libyans by the end of that week.
Mr Robertson added:
“Backroom deals between the then UK Labour Government and the Gaddafi regime are well documented. Now we know that the Tories were also up to their necks in shady arrangements with Gaddafi. As all the published documentation and the numerous inquiries demonstrate, only the SNP Government played with a straight bat on this matter.
“In stark and dramatic contrast to Tory and Labour conniving with Gaddafi, Scotland’s Justice Secretary rejected the prisoner transfer application and granted compassionate release to Al-Megrahi on the basis of Scots Law, and without any consideration of the economic, political and diplomatic factors that Tories and the UK Labour Government based their hypocritical position on.”
In February the UK authorities allowed Former Libyan Justice Minister Mustafa Mohamed Abud Al Jeleil to leave the UK despite the Libyan claiming to have evidence of Gadaffi’s involvement in the Lockerbie tragedy. Jeleil claimed he had evidence that proved Gadaffi personally ordered Megrahi to carry out the bombing – however no evidence ever emerged.
The behaviour of Washington and London in relation to Lockerbie is now coming under increasing scrutiny and a letter penned by Megrahi whilst in Greenock prison and discovered two weeks ago in the offices of the former Libyan intelligence chief, questions whether Libya played any role at all in the downing of Pan Am 103.
The concerns over Megrahi’s conviction have grown steadily as time passes and new information emerges. There are now very significant doubts over the testimony of a key witness and the soundness of forensic evidence. Equally worrying are new claims that witnesses faced threats or other forms of coercion.
The Scottish government will shortly publish the details of an investigation carried out by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission that casts significant doubt on evidence presented at Mr Megrahi’s trial.
Related article: Megrahi Files: Jim Murphy knew about secret Libya letter
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