Kennedy speaks out on Megrahi

by Stephen Tall on August 28, 2009

While Nick Clegg has publicly disagreed with the SNP Scottish executive’s decision to release convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Al Megrahi, former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy has joined David Steel in declaring his belief that the decision was the right one. Charles’s local paper the Ross-shire Journal reports his views:

The Justice Secretary faced an unenviable decision, in which neither of two practical options represents a good outcome. The whole tragic, tangled web of Pan Am Flight 103 raises profound issues of principle and of process.

“The most regrettable aspect of what has happened is that the appeal was withdrawn, and there is now no clear route to try to resolve all the doubts which surround the Lockerbie bombing and Mr Al-Megrahi’s conviction.

“Mr Al-Megrahi has always maintained his innocence, and there are few who believe we have established a complete and truthful account of what happened and why. For the relatives of those who lost their lives, that is the bare minimum which justice requires.

“Mr Al-Megrahi is dying, and the Justice Secretary was required to find a balance between justice and compassion in these circumstances. It was his judgement as Minister that compassion was appropriate. It is not surprising that some disagree very strongly given the scale of the atrocity committed, but I think the decision was probably the right one even if it was not necessarily taken in the right way.

“This is not a party political matter, and it should not really be an international political matter either. It is a question of justice, rightly taken by the Scottish Justice Secretary, and for which he has rightly been held to account by MSPs with a full range of opinions in the Scottish Parliament.”

Meanwhile Lib Dem shadow foreign secretary Ed Davey has demanded once again that Gordon Brown “come clean” about the Government’s involvement in Mr Al Megrahi’s release, following the claims by Colonel Gaddafi’s son, Saif, that the prisoner transfer agreement negotiated between Libya and the UK was aimed at Megrahi and linked to talks on trade and oil:

Far too many questions remain unanswered about meetings between Brown, Mandelson and the Libyans. Tony Blair’s dealings are clearly still casting a long shadow, and must also be explained in full. If Gordon Brown’s conscience is clear, he should have no problem with making public all the details concerning these murky dealings.”

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Nick Clegg:
“The most regrettable aspect of what has happened is that the appeal was withdrawn, and there is now no clear route to try to resolve all the doubts which surround the Lockerbie bombing and Mr Al-Megrahi’s conviction.”

Err, no, there are at least two clear routes for establishing justice.

1. If Megrahi is guilty, it is evident that he did not act alone. Identification of co-conspirators?

2. If Megrahi is innocent, somebody else did it.

Megarhi’s absence from any further investigation is largely inconsequential. He was an uncooperative witness, so any testimony would have been useless anyway.

by Charlieman on August 28, 2009 at 9:07 pm. Reply #

Oops, should have quoted Kennedy.

by Charlieman on August 28, 2009 at 9:08 pm. Reply #

We should be calling for a full public enquiry NOW, and backing the UK Families of Flight 103 in their quest for justice as we did with the Gurkhas. Pointing fingers at the SNP and/or Gordon Brown can be left to the Tories. Such nonsense is a pathetic side-show compared to getting to the truth. Nick (and Ed Davey) should heed our former leaders and call for Government to get a grip on the issue of what REALLY happened over Lockerbie. The victims’ families deserve nothing less – and certainly much better than what we’ve seen and heard so far, Messrs Steel and Kennedy excepted.

by Andrew Duffield on August 28, 2009 at 9:35 pm. Reply #

Was there a miscarriage of justice?
Did the UK Government do a deal because of oil and investments in Libya?
Who really bombed the plane and murdered hundreds of innocent human beings?

Why is this World such a mess; full of devious self-obsessed, self-serving people?

by Libdem Guru on August 28, 2009 at 10:25 pm. Reply #

Because prior events forced them to act like that to survive.

I can’t really think of any justification better than this – which is worse – suffering from terminal cancer or prison? How much will prison help when they’re dead? We preach that prisons should be places to reform criminals, but when one gets released on compassionate grounds we then turn around and complain because he hasn’t suffered enough in prison. I can understand that the right-wing critics are shouting and screaming about this (due to their xenophobia, unreasonably high fear of terrorism and hatred of criminals) but why on Earth are the centre and left complaining? What are prisons for?

by Huw Dawson on August 29, 2009 at 12:00 am. Reply #

David Cameron is reported in the Telegraph today as calling on Brown to reveal all of the background in the run up to release from prison including trade talks with Libya. Cameron stops short of saying what he thinks of the whole episode other than criticising Brown for being silent. As Antony Hook said on a posting to The Voice here recently: How can someone criticise Brown for not expressing a view, while at the same time also not having a view, either?

Odd, or what?

By the way, ok nothing to do with this thread, but as an aside it should be noted that The Telegraph also has a You Guv opinion survey saying 62 per cent of Britons think the time has come to pull out of Afghanistan, and only 26 per cent think our troops should carry on regardless.

by Philip Young on August 29, 2009 at 1:26 pm. Reply #

Andrew Duffield’s point sounds good but does he really think that there is any prospect of getting to the truth of what happened? It seems incredibly unlikely to me. Moreover it seems exceedingly improbable that he acted alone. If Mr Al Magrahi had died in prison he would have become a martyr with a world wide reception – not just in Libya. Huw Dawson has a better point. There was nothing to be gained except placating the USA (if that is truly a gain) by keeping him in prison. I think Nick has taken the wrong stance on this one & that David Steele & Charles Kennedy have it about right.

by coldcomfort on August 30, 2009 at 12:24 pm. Reply #

Congratulations to Charles Kennedy for coming close to acknowledging that Al-Megrahi is innocent and that his conviction was part of a stitch-up orchestrated by the United States government. It’s a pity that Nick Clegg was unable to summon up the same degree of moral courage.

by Sesenco on August 30, 2009 at 2:57 pm. Reply #

[…] Megrahi case has ripped apart the peace of the Scottish Parliamentary recess, with even some former Lib Dem leaders taking a differing view to our leader in Holyrood. Today the UK Government and Scottish Parliament have released papers […]

by Haggis, Neeps and Liberalism #7: The Megrahi Documents on September 6, 2009 at 1:24 am. Reply #

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