Iain Gray attacks Scottish doctors Megrahi evidence

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The leader of Holyrood’s Labour group, Iain Gray, has launched an astonishing attack on the integrity of the medical evidence that led to the compassionate release of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi.

Mr Gray claims that the evidence, supplied by Scottish doctors to Kenny MacAskill, was “flawed” and claims that other cancer experts have described the same evidence as “very, very odd”.


The leader of Holyrood’s Labour group, Iain Gray, has launched an astonishing attack on the integrity of the medical evidence that led to the compassionate release of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi.

Mr Gray claims that the evidence, supplied by Scottish doctors to Kenny MacAskill, was “flawed” and claims that other cancer experts have described the same evidence as “very, very odd”.

Mr Gray made the comments in an online video interview published by The Daily Record.  In the interview Iain Gray also implies that the decision to release Al Megrahi was a joint one involving Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill.

In the interview Iain Gray says of the compassionate release:
“I still think it’s the wrong decision and increasingly we see for example this week cancer experts saying that the medical evidence seems very, very odd to them.

We’ve always said that medical evidence was flawed”

The comments by Iain Gray echo similar remarks made by four US Senators who recently claimed that the medical evidence was potentially fraudulent.  However it later transpired that the US senators had wrongly assumed that the medical evidence had been supplied by a Professor Karol Sikora.

Iain Gray’s claim that other experts have described the medical evidence as “very, very odd” seems to be at odds with recent media reports where cancer experts had insisted that Megrahi’s condition could not be faked.

Mr Gray’s attack on the integrity of the evidence will be seen by many as an attack on Dr Andrew Fraser, head of health and care for the Scottish Prison Service and on the four Scottish NHS consultants who provided their expert opinion on Megrahi’s condition.

Further Controversy
However, Iain Gray has also provoked further controversy after he implied that First Minister Alex Salmond was involved in the decision to release Mr Megrahi.

Iain Gray said:
“At the time that Al Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, was released I made it clear that I though it was the wrong decision by Kenny MacAskill and by Alex Salmond.

He added:
“I think it really is time that Kenny MacAskill and Alex Salmond admitted that they made a mistake when they released the Lockerbie bomber.”

Kenny MacAskill has always insisted that the decision to release Megrahi on compassionate grounds was his and his alone, indeed thus far there have been no suggestion that this was not the case.

The insinuation by Iain Gray that Alex Salmond took part, and thus interfered in the decision making process is very serious and Mr Gray will be expected to provide evidence to back up any such claims. 

In the absence of any evidence and given the geopolitical maneouvrings between London and Washington coupled with the ill-informed statements emanating from the US Senators, Iain Gray’s comments could be deemed very calculated, very reckless – or both.

Gray’s comments will further align his party to the four US Senators who have again questioned the integrity of the medical evidence and who are now demanding Megrahi’s medical files be released.

Iain Gray’s Justice spokesman Richard Baker has also endorsed demands by the Senators that the Scottish Justice Secretary appear before their Senate hearing into the decision to release Mr Megrahi.

However the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has backed both the release of Megrahi and the decision by Mr MacAskill not to bow to US demands to travel to Washington to face questions.  This week former Labour MSP Denis Canavan received rapturous applause when he spoke of his support for Kenny Macaskill at a public event in Stirling.  Mr Canavan also called for a full public inquiry into the whole Lockerbie affair.

Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter was one of the Lockerbie victims, has also endorsed the Scottish government’s stance in dealings with the US Senators and is a long time advocate of a full inquiry into the conviction of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, whom Mr Swire believes to be innocent.

Below is a full transcript of Iain Gray’s interview:
“At the time that Al Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, was released I made it clear that I though it was the wrong decision by Kenny MacAskill and by Alex Salmond.

I still think it’s the wrong decision and increasingly we see for example this week cancer experts saying that the medical evidence seems very, very odd to them.

We’ve always said that medical evidence was flawed, the Scottish government have still refused to publish all the medical evidence but I think as time goes on it becomes increasingly clear that the decision was in fact the wrong one and I think it is time for the Scottish government to admit they made the wrong decision a year ago

The rules on compassionate release are a very important part in the Scottish justice system and I don’t think that they need to be changed at all. I think the problem in the case of the Lockerbie bomber was they weren’t properly applied and so the decision taken was the wrong one.

The rules do require you to look at the potential life expectency of the prisoner but they also require you to look at the nature of the crime and the nature of the sentence.  So in this instance we had the worst crime that anyone has ever been convicted of in Scotland, we had a sentence of which only a few years had been served AND that was the sentence of which the Scottish government’s own lord advocate at the time was appealing against as being too lenient. 

So I think the balance that Kenny Macaskill struck was wrong and in this instance compassionate release should have been refused, but I don’t think that we need to change the rules, I think the compassionate release rules are an important part of the Scottish judicial system and it should stay that way.

Well I think that increasingly the medical evidence has had doubt cast on it, I don’t wish Mr Al Megrahi any [ill]will but we said at the time that the wrong balance had been struck and we said at the time that the medical evidence seemed to our mind to be flawed and I think that as time goes on that increasingly it seems to be the case and that’s why I think it really is time that Kenny MacAskill and Alex Salmond admitted that they made a mistake when they released the Lockerbie bomber.”

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