US Interest in Megrahi and Oil Deals Questioned

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The recent interest in Libyan/UK oil deals shown by four US senators has been questioned by Scottish Government officials.

Last month the Senators implied that Abdelbaset Al Megrahi was released in order to facilitate the signing of oil contracts between BP and Libya and the US Senate convened a hearing into the release.  A US official representing one of the Senators, Sen. Robert Menendez, is visiting Scotland seeking clarification on the issue.


The recent interest in Libyan/UK oil deals shown by four US senators has been questioned by Scottish Government officials.

Last month the Senators implied that Abdelbaset Al Megrahi was released in order to facilitate the signing of oil contracts between BP and Libya, the US Senate convened a hearing into the release.  A US official representing one of the Senators, Sen. Robert Menendez, is visiting Scotland seeking clarification on the issue.

The official will meet with representatives of the Scottish government to discuss the release, however it is understood that no such meeting has been arranged with Kenny MacAskill.  Labour’s Justice Spokesman Richard Baker has welcomed the US visit and is urging the US official to seek Megrahi’s medical records, something that is currently not legally possible without the express permission of the patient.  Labour leader Iain Gray recently claimed that the medical evidence was “flawed”.

A spokesman for First Minister Alex Salmond queried the “recent” US interest in the issue pointing out that the original deal in the desert, exposed by the SNP, had elicited no such concerns from the Senators.

The secret meeting in 2007 between then Labour leader and PM Tony Blair and Col Gadaffi had negotiated a prisoner transfer agreement that would have allowed Al Megrahi to return to Libya.  An oil contract was signed between Libya and BP that same day.

Mr Salmond’s spokesman said: “It was the first minister who revealed to the world that the UK government and the Libyan government were planning or negotiating a prisoner transfer agreement clearly with the specific purpose of al-Megrahi being transferred to Libya.

“We’ve looked at all the records and asked the senators for them to furnish us with any public comment they issued at that time – there was no public comment.

“Senator Menendez and his colleagues’ interest in the matter certainly seems to have waxed and waned.

“It seemed to be non-existent at the time when it was revealed to the world there was this ‘deal in the desert’.”

The secret deal was exposed by the Scottish Government soon after it took place and although the then Labour government at first denied that Megrahi was included in the negotiations, it transpired that in fact he had been.  Subsequent revelations revealed that BP had also lobbied the Labour government to speed up the signing of the PTA agreement.

Labour official John McTernan, an advisor to Tony Blair at the time of the secret desert meeting, recently claimed that Megrahi had been ‘offered’ to the Libyans as a ‘reward’ for Libya’s dismantling of their nuclear weapons facilities.

The First Minister has repeatedly explained to the Americans that there was no commercial interests involved in the decision to release Al Megrahi who was allowed to return home having contracted terminal cancer.  Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill explained at the time that a medical report based on the views of NHS specialists determined that a three month prognosis was a reasonable estimate for life expectancy.  Mr MacAskill stressed that the three months was only an estimate and that Mr Megrahi could live longer or die sooner.  In fact Mr Megrahi has survived a year.

There is a growing body of feeling that Al Megrahi was in fact wrongfully convicted of the bombing.  Moves are afoot to try to have an inquiry into the original trial verdict and there have been calls for the new evidence, recently uncovered by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission and casting doubt on Megrahi’s conviction, to be published.