Diane Abbott voices support for MacAskill over Megrahi release

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Labour leadership hopeful Diane Abbott has today voiced her support for the decision to release Abdelbaset Al Megrahi on compassionate grounds.

Ms Abbott, the only woman taking part in the Labour leadership contest, said that she had “every confidence” that Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill had made the right decision.

 

Labour leadership hopeful Diane Abbott has today voiced her support for the decision to release Abdelbaset Al Megrahi on compassionate grounds.

Ms Abbott, the only woman taking part in the Labour leadership contest, said that she had “every confidence” that Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill had made the right decision.

The respected Labour MP made her comments as she prepares for a 10-day visit to Scotland as part of her campaign to replace Gordon Brown as Labour leader. 

In an interview with The Herald newspaper Ms Abbott said:
“It is not for me to second-guess the Scottish Government but I have every confidence that they made the best decision, the right decision, under Scottish law in relation to the evidence that they had before them.”

Ms Abbott then responded to those in her own party and outside who have cast doubts on the integrity of the medical evidence given to Mr MacAskill: “We all know of cancer patients who have lived longer than was expected, or lived for less time.

“He has got terminal cancer. He will die. The fact that he has lived a little bit longer than people thought … he did go home and see his family.”

She also supported the decision of both Jack Straw and Kenny MacAskill to decline to appear before a US Senate committee.

Ms Abbott said: “I am not going to criticise the Scottish Government or Scottish ministers, and I felt very strongly that they should not go before a senate committee. British ministers are not accountable to American senators.”

Her comments are at odds with many party colleagues in Scotland who have continued to attack the decision to release Megrahi and who have also criticised the Scottish doctors who supplied the medical evidence on which Kenny MacAskill based his decision.  Labour’s Holyrood justice spokesman Richard Baker attacked Kenny MacAskill for not going to the US but bizarrely supported Jack Straw’s decision not to go.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Diane Abbott’s position is both welcome and consistent, in contrast to the ridiculous about-turn by David Miliband. Last October, he told the House of Commons the UK Government did not want Megrahi to die in a Scottish prison.”

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