Sunday, August 30, 2009

Megrahi And The UK's 'Overwhelming Interests'

When I wrote my post on Megrahi’s release, I didn’t think things would move quite so fast. Ten days ago, I wrote:

“‘UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband …rejected suggestions the UK pushed for Megrahi's release to improve relations as ‘a slur on both myself and the government’.”

Today we hear Jack Straw, negotiating with Libya in 2007, wrote to Scottish Justice minister, Kenny MacAskill, on the terms of the Prison Transfer Agreement with Libya:

“I had previously accepted the importance of the al-Megrahi issue to Scotland and said I would try to get an exclusion for him on the face of the agreement. I have not been able to secure an explicit exclusion. The wider negotiations with the Libyans are reaching a critical stage and, in view of the overwhelming interests for the UK, I have agreed that in this instance the [PTA] should be in the standard form and not mention any individual."

Straw is now suggesting that this agreement had nothing to do with Megrahi and that the PTA agreement is “academic” in any case, given that Megrahi was freed on compassionate grounds. I don’t think it’s “academic” at all. Megrahi was the only Libyan prisoner in a British jail. And the reason there was no exclusion was because of the “overwhelming interests for the UK.”

So the slur on Miliband and the Government sticks. Or, rather, it doesn’t. A slur involves degrading someone in the eyes of others, it means casting serious doubt on someone’s good reputation. This Government of liars, spinners and cover-ups have no such reputation to lose. The new revelations are simply par for the course.


apprentice said...

I think that plans were put in train that relied on there being
Labour administrations in both London and Edinburgh. Things went wrong when the SNP got in, as they were deeply against the PTA negotiated by Blair and therefore had to go for the compassionate discharge option.

David Floyd said...

This has been another shambolic episode in Labour's ongoing post-Blair PR disaster.

Whatever you might've thought of Alistair Campbell press management techniques, at least he generally knew what he was trying to do.

The SNP at least come out of this looking clear-headed and fairly honest - even if many people believe their decision to be clear-headed and honestly wrong.

The Westminster government's position isn't even coherent enough for them to look dishonest. It's just a tragi-comic shambles.

Roddy said...

You need to read Private Eye on this, as usual. Stuff to do with trade, oil and Scottish party politics is just flim flam here - the real issue is that al-Megrahi's appeal, if seen through, would have deeply embarrassed the UK and US governments. The thin case against him has been reduced to nil in the interim - the witnesses negated, shown as patsies.

All the weighty investigation points to Syrian-backed terrorists based in Germany being the bombers - most of whom are safely inside long term for other acts. Libya paid compensation because it was cheaper than sanctions. The real problem according to the Eye is as it has always been - that this bombing threatened to disclose practices - mainly drug running - by big governments. As a retired high ranking politician said to one of the relatives years ago - 'we know exactly what happened, but we can never tell you'.