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“The most regrettable aspect of what has happened is that the appeal was withdrawn, and there is now no clear route to try to resolve all the doubts which surround the Lockerbie bombing and Mr Al-Megrahi’s conviction.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