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Responses to Megrahi release

Laura Kuenssberg | 17:20 UK time, Thursday, 20 August 2009

There have been extraordinary images of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi boarding the plane at Glasgow airport this afternoon.

Abdelbaset Ali al-MegrahiAnd the decision by the Scottish Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, to release him has provoked a very strong response from David Cameron. He said:

"I think this is wrong and it's the product of some completely nonsensical thinking in my view. If there's a view that the conviction is in some way unsafe, then the proper process is an appeal and the presentation of new evidence. But if this is about genuine release on compassionate grounds I think it is wrong. This man was convicted of murdering 270 people. He showed no compassion to them. They weren't allowed to go home and die with their relatives in their own bed and I think this is a very bad decision."

Of course it's easier to speak in such terms in opposition, but it's fascinating that he's chosen to intervene in such an impassioned and public way, rather than allowing the Conservative leader in Scotland, Annabel Goldie, to lead on the issue.

On top of what is no doubt a genuine anger, it may also suit him to be seen standing alongside the United States rather than the SNP.

It's certainly a sharp contrast to Alistair Darling, who, stepping in for Gordon Brown while he continues his holiday in Scotland, pointedly resisted an invitation to comment on the merits of the decision.

He told the BBC:

"[Y]ou either devolve responsibility for criminal justice or you don't. And I bet you if I'd been saying to you what Kenny McAskill ought to do many people would have cried foul and said, you've devolved...why are you interfering."

But that doesn't mean there is no Labour view on the decision - quite the contrary. The Labour leader in Scotland, Iain Gray, has said that if he had been leading the Scottish administration, Megrahi would not be going back to Libya.

That chimes with the view of the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Tavish Scott, who described the SNP verdict as "disappointing". The Lib Dem's Cowley Street operation in Westminster left it to him to give their view.

PS One or two people questioned my assertion yesterday that before devolution this decision would have been taken by the UK government because the Scottish legal system has always been separate. But my understanding is that ultimately the decision would have still fallen to a politician, which pre-devolution would have been someone who was part of the same administration as the occupant of No 10.


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  • Comment number 1.

    To me this highlights why an MP representing a Scottish constituency should not be allowed any vote or to take executive decisions on devolved issues.

  • Comment number 2.

    Still time for one more post today, Laura. What do you think about today's little punch-up over the NHS? Only a minor skirmish, but who scored more points, do you think?

  • Comment number 3.

    This evil little devil should have been left to rot in the Scottish jail.He was handed over for trial by Qaddafi and was found guilty I'm fully aware we have just released Ronnie bigs on compassionate grounds but that swine killed Innocent's on an airliner and persons on the ground and was found guilty by jury If he wasn't the guilty party why was he handed over by Qaddafi in the first instance?And what about the family's of the deceased is there no justice for them?It seams if you are a terrorist you get vip treatment in a leer jet to your given destination.

  • Comment number 4.

    A bold decision has been taken by the Scottish Justice Minister. He has balanced justice and compassion. I agree with his assertion that it is wrong to say that because Mr Megrahi showed no compassion he too should have no compassion shown him.
    Sometimes you need to stand up for your principles and show the world that even though you have been harshly treated your response need not be harsh in return.
    This is not (as it has been described) an act of weakness, but rather an act of courage!
    Well done Mr McAskill. I am extremely proud today to be Scottish.

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm really disappointed by David Cameron's comments. I've always felt he spoke a great deal of sense but his outburst today is almost as bad as Hillary Clinton's comments.

    No matter what these people think, this has nothing to do with either of them. It was a crime over Scotland, investigated under Scottish Law, in a Scottish Court and sentenced by Scottish judges to serve time in a Scottish prison.

    Surely this decision is ultimately, solely and totally down to the Scottish Justice Secretary and no-one else?

  • Comment number 6.

    The decision is made and the Libyan has gone home.

    All the right political noises are being made but they are all happy to see the back of it

    Perhaps this news will be buried by tomorrow.

  • Comment number 7.

    There is a wide school of thought that says Al-Megrahi was NOT guilty of the bombing. Was he? Wasn't he? He was probably set up by Gadaffi in exchange for the Libyan leader's 'respectabislisation' as Jim Swire has made clear. Today I think Kenny McAskill had a task he couldn't win, whatever he did, but I think he did absolutely the right thing and I am proud to be a Scot this day.

  • Comment number 8.

    Your newsreader didn't help the controversy surrounding this whole episode when he claimed that PanAm 103 had "over 200,000 TONNES of fuel" on board when it blew up!!! 200,000 litres maybe but the other is so out of this world all it can can do is fuel the thoughts of people looking for reasons to disagree with the whole thing

  • Comment number 9.

    #3 quietoldinthetooth

    Accuracy is useful. There was no jury.

  • Comment number 10.

    #3 i agree 100% this evil man was guilty ,the jury said so,where is the compassion for the 270 poor souls he murdered?,this country is a joke if your evil scum, you do all right, if your law abiding your treated like..... you know what..

  • Comment number 11.

    #1 Phillip802

    "To me this highlights why an MP representing a Scottish constituency should not be allowed any vote or to take executive decisions on devolved issues."

    You seem a little confused. MPs from any part of the UK have no role in any devolved issues.

    If you mean that Scots MPs shouldn't vote on issues affecting England only, when the UK Parliament acts as the English Parliament, then I agree.

  • Comment number 12.

    When it comes to trying to score cheap political points look for Iain Gray.

    The truth is that if, heaven forbid, Iain Gray was leading the Scottish Government he would do exactly what his masters in Westminster told him to do.

    Look out for the following from Gray in the Glasgow by-election "the SNP is soft on crime" we would not have let Megrahi out. Labour will ignore the fact that it is a Westminster by-election and Scottish justice is quite separate from Westminster. Anything to deflect from their 12 wasted years in office.

  • Comment number 13.

    #5 yes all scottish except for the fact that the rest of the uk pay taxes to keep scum like al-megrahi alive

  • Comment number 14.

    Devolution is not relevant.

    Before or after devolution decisions on individual legal cases were only be taken in accordance with official advice by individual ministers not governments. This is an important principal. The danger to an individual's freedom under the law is obvious if a government takes upon itself the right to determine their case.

  • Comment number 15.

    At least the conspiracy theories will be buried with Megrahi , much to the annoyance of the " don't believe anything " brigade. I disagree with McKaskill's decision , but he may well be right and it took a degree of courage to make what appears to be an unpopular judgement.Hopefully the media can now give some attention to the desperate incompetence of the government's handling of the economy and the Afghan situation.

  • Comment number 16.


    I am on the side of David Cameron regarding his comments and attitude regarding the released of Megrahi, from Scottish Prison and sent home to Libya....

    =Dennis Junior=

  • Comment number 17.

    #4 so its compassion to lock someone up for life then?I mean doesnt it do everybody a favour to get rid of this scum,im sick of do gooders like you always defending evil people like this.These people deserve 1 fate ...taken out and shot,and for once in your life show some thought for the poor souls he murdered.

  • Comment number 18.


    In the PS section of the blog...I never said anything to you regarding the situation of the released before Devolution....

    =Dennis Junior=

  • Comment number 19.

    #9 old Nat please explain Is the Scottish legal system some what deferent from the English system then? trial with out jury? or is it the laird of the county the overseer on such occasions then? like it was in days gone by.

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    What he did was wrong. Keeping a man with only 3 months to live in prison is wrong. Two wrongs don't make a right! Wasn’t it Gandi who said something like "an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind"?

    Keeping him in prison would not of brought back all the innocent people from the Pan Am flight or Lockerbie, but it does show the world justice & compassion are more important than politics & revenge.

    I’m not Scottish. And as an Englishman, the SNP’s “Scotland Scotland Scotland We are not English everything’s all the fault of the English” record gets a bit annoying… but, hats off the SNP. Kenny McAskill seems to of resisted great political pressure to do what he sees as the right thing morally. We moan a lot about our MP’s being shallow and just in it for the votes, but here’s a politician whose moral compass is not broken.

    Then again, I didn't loose a loved one at the hands of this man, so it's easy for people like me to take a more objective view!

  • Comment number 22.

    If nothing else I suppose that Cameron's stance on this issue just reinforces once again how out of touch he is with the way Scotland ticks.

    As to Iain Gray saying that if he had been leading the Scottish administration, Megrahi would not be going back to Libya that of course sums up how he thinks... i.e. not very much!

  • Comment number 23.

    Cameron has just proved he is Mr Soundbite,

  • Comment number 24.

    #19 The Scottish legal system is different from the English one, thankfully, but in this particular case it was exercise in a unique way in that the trial brokered in part through the offices of Nelson Mandela was held before a tribunal of judges [ just like the Internationa War Crimes commision works].

    Your cheap shot belies your ignorance... and a peculiarly offensive arrogance.

  • Comment number 25.

    The decision to release this bloke will obviously upset the dozens of bereaved families, particularly in the US. And while we must rightly empathise and sympathise with their views and feelings of betrayal, that doesn't mean that we have to unconditionally take criticism on this side of the pond from Hillary Clinton. Before she gets too hot and bothered about the UK being soft on terror, she might care to remember her many photo opportunities with Gerry Adams when she and President Clinton were both in "be nice to terrorists" mode, not giving a second thought about British sensibilities, and reflect that "don't do as I do, do as I say" was never a very effective diplomacy tool. Caledonian Comment

  • Comment number 26.

    I believe that the way people feel about his release depends on whether or not they think he was definitely guilty. I have no idea whether or not he was guily, and so have no objection to his release. If I really thought he was guilty I would be very strongly against it (as I was against Ronnie Biggs' release).

    Why is there such a difference of opinion between American and British commentators? Is it that Americans are more likely to believe that all verdicts are correct? Are we British simply more cynical?

    No disrespect intended here to those many Brits who believe he is guilty.

  • Comment number 27.

    Let us remember that Megrahi was not the instigator of this outrage, merely his hireling. The real villain of the piece is President Gaddaffi who ordered the bombing. This is a man who has been responsible for causing murder and mayhem world-wide long before any of us even heard of Saddam Hussein.

    We would do well to remember that this was not the the last bombing in Britain he was responsible for – remember the ship Eksund which was found loaded with arms for the IRA? Unfortunately earlier shipments got through and, as a result the Semtex plastic explosive he supplied helped prolong Ulster’s agony.

    It is also worth remembering that,like Saddam Hussein he was making a determined effort to develop nuclear and chemical weapons; a fact which came to light at the time of the Iraq invasion. However,instead of being deposed he was offered a chance to come in from the cold and rehabilitate himself.

    As a result, the man who’s weapons caused untold numbers of deaths in the west will now be sold western arms. His oil industry which helped fund his evil deeds will be rescued by western money and expertise. Unlike Saddam Hussein he will not die on one of his own gallows, he will, instead be treated as a faithful ally and be allowed to subject his own people to more years of oppression.

    Megrahi will very soon end is days, either at home or in some corner of a Libyan hospital. The man who sent him on his murderous mission and gave him the means to carry it out will live on, more secure in power than he has ever been.

  • Comment number 28.

    #19 quietoldinthetooth

    sorry for the delay in replying - had to go and make dinner.

    The Megrahi trial was unique. In order to get a trial at all, it had to be held outwith Scotland (in the Netherlands)and uniquely there was no jury, but a panel of 3 Scots judges.

    Just shows the danger of posting on something you have little knowledge of!

  • Comment number 29.

    #20 jon112uk

    Initially I was horrified by your post.

    Then I realised you didn't know what you were talking about.

  • Comment number 30.

    Completely the wrong decision and I am afraid the Scottish Government have lost a great deal of credibility by coming to this conclusion. If as Cameron says this man is innocent it should have gone to appeal as with all cases. This sets a precedent that all prisoners, no matter what their crime should be released, if they are proven to be terminally ill. This is not in accordance with the mercy that this man showed to his victims.

    I had hoped that if the Scottish Government had been in charge of this, they would have shown the courage of independence from the UK Government which was required. Instead we find they have carried out exactly the same decision that the UK Government would have done. There is no need for a Scottish Parliament if this is the degree of independence shown.

    I also found listening to MacAskill it was similar to the lectures we have received from G. Brown on religious matters, this I am afraid is a complete turn off to the listener.

    In truth the Scottish Government has done exactly what Brown wanted, and their justification is nothing less than religious nonsense to be honest.

  • Comment number 31.

    I wonder if the commentator at post 20 above has ever been to Scotland. What a thoroughly ridiculous posting. The Scottish people had to deal with the PAN AM disaster and great friendships exist between relatives' families and people here. There is disagreement about the Megrahi issue but as the Justice Secretary for Scotland - a sovereign jurisdiction - said "however, a decision had to be made." The event was 21 years ago. Many wise and thoughtful observers and researchers do not believe that Megrahi was guilty. Of course, he was found guilty. The Justice Secretary did not question that verdict but demonstrated a wise and brave compassion to a man (not considered guilty by all) who will die soon. God forbid we have no mercy. Our hearts go out to the relatives and friends of those who died. Let us set up an enquiry - something that the UK and / or US Governments alone can do; and let's not allow the quest for truth to die with Megrahi.

  • Comment number 32.

    #21 rispurr

    Most of us would be less objective if we had lost a loved one through any crime. That's why the legal systems remove justice to the more anonymous level of the judicial system.

    PS I suspect you haven't actually read any SNP literature, or statements. I challenge you to provide evidence of their saying "everything’s all the fault of the English”. The British are the problem (since they claim sovereignty over Scotland), but the English (with the probable exception of their sports commentators on TV) are not a problem.

  • Comment number 33.

    Not sure if I agree whether he should be allowed to go back to Libya or not, but I do think that Cameron is wrong to say that he shouldn't have been released at all.

    Yes, he didn't show compassion to those 270 people he killed. But that is what separates him from the rest of us. He showed no compassion. We do.

  • Comment number 34.

    David Cameron's comments reflect so many of the knee-jerk remarks I've read today - "He showed no compassion or mercy so we should show him none". Really? We should set our standards for compassion and mercy at the same level as those of a mass murderer? Call me conceited if you like, but I like to think my nation shows standards of humanity rather higher than those of the Lockerbie Bomber. And praise be! Kenny MacAskill demonstrated those standards today.

    Assuming he was guilty, Megrahi did not deserve release; but that's what mercy involves, isn't it? Giving people what they deserve scarcely qualifies as mercy, and probably doesn't qualify as compassion.

  • Comment number 35.

    At least the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi will effectively stop any embarrassment arising from any appeal casting doubt on his guilt.

    What really worries me is that while this release was authorised on understandably compassionate grounds, Gary McKinnon's extradition appears set to continue although similar reasoning could be applied by the Home Secretary on the basis of his (McKinnon) having AS. And of course since the UK has defied America over al-Megrahi (has everyone forgotten that the whole ethos of the Pax Americana is that they do what America tells them to) it would not be beyond the bounds of possibility that McKinnon will now be treated even more harshly than he might otherwise have been.

    It might be different if the McKinnon family had oil, or is that just a touch too cynical?

  • Comment number 36.

    Perhaps if more people had followed civilised principles like Kenny MacAskill and not simply kowtowed to vindictive American politicians, as many have been doing in recent years, we wouldn't have become involved in an illegal war in Iraq or sanctioned the use of medieval torture. I do hope this is the beginning of a reassertion of the need to champion the rights of all human beings and not just the ones that the Americans like. Further, I would like to suggest that the fundamentalist eye for an eye mentality coming out from across the pond doesn't appear to differ much from that of the Taliban and their like.

  • Comment number 37.

    Kindness, in the Arab world, is viewed as weakness.

  • Comment number 38.

    #30 Susan-Croft

    "Completely the wrong decision and I am afraid the Scottish Government have lost a great deal of credibility"

    Maybe I've misunderstood you in the past, but I didn't think that you ever thought the Scottish Government had any credibility. It's a bit like my saying that Brown/Cameron have lost credibility.

  • Comment number 39.

    At least he did spend some time in prison. Which is more than can be said for the killer of WPC Yvonne Fletcher.

  • Comment number 40.

    it's ironic, isn't it? - just when the country is in the mood to be levelled with ... positively yearning for some "tough decisions from tough people" ... DC chooses to base his appeal on this sort of thing - what a mistake he's making, don't you think? - Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Cam (with some facile crowd pleasing)

  • Comment number 41.

    #26 Its_an_Outrage

    An interesting post, and you make a good point. I don't quite agree with you, though. I have qualms neither about Biggs' guilt nor his compassionate release.

    IMO, compassionate release should be only about the individual's physical condition and the possibility of his or her committing further crimes. Absent the BBC-generated media storm, I suspect MacAskill would have waited another week or so before making the decision, which I would have preferred personally. In the event, he had to make it this week or face plausible accusations of dithering.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

  • Comment number 42.

    "....Of course it's easier to speak in such terms in opposition, but it's fascinating that he's chosen to intervene in such an impassioned and public way, rather than allowing the Conservative leader in Scotland, Annabel Goldie, to lead on the issue."

    Why would it be fascinating that a Westminster based politician, who presumably hopes to be responsible for the UK's Foreign and Defence policies, should choose to comment on the impact that Mr MacAskill's decisions could have?

    As far as I'm aware, the Scottish Executive has some control over "justice" within it's physical jurisdiction, but no responsibility for foreign policy across the UK.

    MacAskill made some excoriating comments about the Whitehall apparatchiks, especially in respect of the introduction of a UK/Libyan Prisoner Transfer scheme. Apparently, at the time, the Scots said there was only ONE Libyan prisoner held in Scotland (guess who). And he implied that the Whitehall group had assured the US government - and the families affected by the Lockerbie incident - that no early release would be contemplated.

    So does that mean that some Whitehall politicians not only mislead us - the UK population - about the "threat" of Saddam (which the U.S. security "intelligence" services believed as well, God rest their poor souls!), but also misled the U.S. into believing that someone tried and found guilty of a crime would be held in a UK prison to serve the prescribed term?

    I have no idea whether Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi was responsible for the Lockerbie disaster. I had reason to doubt every member of the Libyan Arab Airline staff scattered across the world at that time.

    The guy was convicted. Other evidence could prove his innocence - or maybe just show him as a guy sharing responsibility with others un-named.

    I still don't understand why Ronnie Biggs was allowed "compassionate" release. The guy came "home" because he was ill and assumed that UK tax-payers would look after him. Funny that Jack Straw suddenly had a change of heart about Biggs just before Megrahi was "sprung".

    Funny, that. Wasn't Straw a member of the government that passed the UK/Libyan Prisoner Transfer arrangement?

    It's getting too sick to understand.

    I'd like every MP's detailed biometrics to be taken (forcibly if necessary) and every document, e-mail or text they are related to kept on the public record for at least 20 years.

    Within that time-frame, maybe someone will come up with a truth serum that I'm sure they - "you've nothing to fear if you are innocent" - will willingly self-inject.

  • Comment number 43.

    #28old Nat Thank for your reply the episode was that long ago i had completely forgotten the trial in its self And as you so rightly pointed out should have consulting brain before commenting as a few eagle eyes are always ready to jump down your throat. None of us are perfect and at times get our facts wrong, So once again thanks for your comment and good night.

  • Comment number 44.

    Lots of emotive reaction here, and understandable I suppose.

    Kenny MacAskill made a decision; and something that probably requires to be understood is the viewpoint that this was made from.

    Scottish thought is quite simply different from that of other nations, and that needs to be respected. We probably see the world in a different light from that of other nations, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Compassion figures large. Fair play is up there. Doing the right thing is paramount. Petty political end games are not on the agenda where people's lives are concerned.

    There will be political comment, a lot of it negative, over this decision, but I ask you to remember one thing. The Scottish people voted (VOTED!) the current SNP Government in. They have a mandate to make decisions. The decisions may be difficult, they may be unpopular with some, but they have to be made.

    And they are being made; by a progressive and courageous Government. They are to be admired and applauded!

  • Comment number 45.

    David Cameron can go and take a running jump.

    That jumped up little cretin kept his gaping maw shut through-out the entire debacle with Labour negotiating a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya - but now that the Scottish Government has taken an avenue he disagrees with he speaks up?

    What a hypcocrite he is.

    Where was he when the families of Lockerbie wanted an inquiry into Lockerbie? Where was he when Tony Blair courted contoversy over the prisoner transfer agreement? This nescient moron has no right to speak for victims of the atrocity any more than he has the right to speak for the people of Scotland.

    At the next election he will soon learn that distinction

  • Comment number 46.

    #43 quietoldinthetooth

    A civilized response - I was perhaps unnecessarily harsh.

  • Comment number 47.

    Oldnut 38

    To my knowledge I have always been fair on the subject of the Scottish Parliament. I always say what I believe. In my last post I stated that I thought it was right for the Government of Scotland to make the decision of whether Megrahi should be released or not. That is giving credibility to a Scottish Government. However I have to say I always thought that the Scottish Parliament would be much more forward thinking than that at Westminister, however todays decision proves this thought to be wrong. No matter what positive spin you put on it, MacAskill was a mirror image of Brown today.

    As to Brown he lost credibility with me ages ago. Cameron I have no idea what he is about, though the signs are not good, I suppose we will find out. Nothing new there. In this particular instance however over Megrahi, I believe Cameron is right.

  • Comment number 48.

    #47 Susan-Croft

    Cameron is right is he?

    Not 2 months ago he gave a "genuine" heartfelt speech about how if he becomes Prime Minister he would "respect the devolved government of Scotland"

    Not more than 2 months ago.

    Now tell me, where was his tuppence when this issue was being bandied about in the news months ago? Where was he to espouse his convictions on how to deal with al-Megrahi before the media turned this into a circus?

    The man has done little more than rode in on the coat-tails of those who opposed al-Megrahi's release - myself included in that number.

    Couldn't he have left it to Annabel Goldie to make a statement about the Scottish conservatives views on a wholey devolved matter? One he promised to respect less than two months ago.

    No, because he wanted the soundbite - he wanted to come across as passionate about somthing he believes is wrong - instead - he's come off as a hypocritical mouthpiece with no respect for Scottish sovereign matters.

    If you beleive what he said is commendable - that speaks volumes of the fibre of your own character.

  • Comment number 49.

    Oldnat 47

    Sorry that was a genuine slip in your name, I was not being rude, I only realised when it came up.

  • Comment number 50.


    I was referring to what I saw as your view of the Scottish Government - not the Parliament.

    Though not a Christian myself, I recognise the Kirk's view as representing the same moral strand that I am part of.

    The Rev Ian Galloway, convener of the Kirk's Church and Society Council, commented: “This decision has sent a message to the world about what it is to be Scottish. We are defined as a nation by how we treat those who have chosen to hurt us. Do we choose mercy even when they did not chose mercy?"

    "This was not about whether one man was guilty or innocent," he added. "Nor is it about whether he had a right to mercy but whether we as a nation, despite the continuing pain of many, are willing to be merciful."

    Galloway went on: "I understand the deep anger and grief that still grips the souls of the victims’ families and I respect their views. But to them I would say justice is not lost in acting in mercy. Instead, our deepest humanity is expressed for the better. To choose mercy is the tough choice and today our nation met that challenge."

    He concluded: "We have gained something significant as a nation by this decision. It is a defining moment for all of us.”

  • Comment number 51.

    Just proves that David Cameron is an opportunist. I am certain he understands that it is the Scottish minister of justice who is responsible for jurisprudence in Scotland. He is a populist and throws his lot with the Americans to score political points. In siding with a country like America that is devoid of compassion and has the death penalty he is identifying himself with the inventors of Guantanamo. At least we in Europe are civilized enough not to have the death penalty and the incarceration of prisoners like in America, where revenge and retribution abounds in their penal code. What do you expect from a slick PR man?

  • Comment number 52.

    #49 Susan-Croft

    No problem. It's why I copy and paste user names - having made similar errors myself. I didn't assume any offence was meant and none was taken - actually I might adopt your variation :-)

  • Comment number 53.

    GAAberdeen 48

    I have no idea of Camerons motives, that is for him to answer. My only comment was that he is correct in this instance.

    The blog is for people who think differently about subjects, that does not mean you can make judgements of a particular persons character simply because they disagree with you. That I am afraid says more about you than me.

  • Comment number 54.

    oldnat 50

    I have nothing against the Scottish Parlaiment, the Scottish Government or the Scottish people. Indeed I would like England to have its own Parliament. However I believe this was a bad decision, taken for the wrong reasons and will have the wrong result. I have already given my reasons why.

  • Comment number 55.

    Can anyone tell me how they would feel as a jailed innocent?
    Remember that this man has protested his innocence all along.

    Can anyone hand on heart say that there have been no miscarriages of justice in the past?

    There has been doubt over this conviction since it happened.
    Its all very well for the Americans to conveniently sweep the Iranian plane shot down with great loss of life , under the carpet.
    Its all very well for the Americans to ignore Guatanamo.
    Its all very well for the Americans to ignore their own bad habits around the world while telling the rest of us what to do.
    But you will have to forgive me when I say I really am sick and tired of the political interference/ criticism from the other side of the pond , the other side of the border and the smug UK media.

    Mr Cameron would do well to remember that there is ONE Conservative MP North of the border, next time they might not have so many!

  • Comment number 56.

    Obama is showing he is small after all

  • Comment number 57.

    #53 Susan-Croft

    I'm consistent with my opinions, but when I'm wrong - I apologise.

    I didn't argue that Mr Cameron wasn't right or that you were wrong - I merely pointed out that by using his commentary in line with your own makes you look like you condone his hypocrisy.

    Indeed, if you check my post again it details that I oppposed al-Megrahi's release - yet unlike Cameron I spoke up about it before the Justice Secretary made a decision and I certainly didn't make it to gain kudo's from anyone else.

    If your going to chew me out for questioning why you would give deference to a charlatan's trite attempt at gaining political plaudits, I'm happy to take whatever ignoble punishment it suits.

  • Comment number 58.

    #54 Susan-Croft

    We can agree to disagree. In my view morality is more important than securing political advantage. I recognise that this may not fit with views further south.

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    On Newsnight Gavin Essler is also very small

  • Comment number 61.

    sc @ 49 regarding Old Nut ...

    nice try, Susan, but the "u" is nowhere near the "a" on the keyboard (is it?) so we're not buying that mistake story, I'm afraid

  • Comment number 62.

    America is being found wanting - I think they are on the decline - hurrah!

  • Comment number 63.

    The world and his wife know that the destruction of the PAN-AM plane was almost certainly Tehran inspired revenge for the USS Vincennes having mistaken an Iranian airliner for an attacking military jet and, in consequence, shooting it down. Had the officers responsible been disciplined as they ought to have been, matters might have ended there. Instead, some clowns in Congress gave them medals. None of this excuses what followed, but it does help explain why some of the relatives take a more nuanced approach to today's release.

  • Comment number 64.

    My attempt to 'complain' about post #45 and the use of certain words to describe David Cameron seems to have been rejected by the moderators.

    I complained in the sense of making a new posting, not by clicking on the 'complain about this comment link'. I don't want post#45 censored because I don't believe in censorship. But I do want to say that at least two of the words used have no place in political argument.

  • Comment number 65.

    I have to admit that I was holding my breath until the plane carrying Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi had landed in Libya - I was half expecting some illegal military action by the USA against the plane! But at least the new President has distanced himself from his predecessors in not approving any such action - there is hope for civilisation in the USA yet! (But not much hope I fear!)

    In this country: Cameron should have kept his own council and his mouth shut! Mouthing off in this matter just shows how little genuine respect he has for the judicial process and bodes ill for a Cameron Prime Ministership. The arrogance of the Tories shines through!

  • Comment number 66.

    66 @ 64

    But I do want to say that at least two of the words used have no place in political argument

    indeed John ... "David" and "Cameron"

  • Comment number 67.

    #61 sagamix

    Since Susan is not a Unionist, I have no reason to suspect that she is economical with the truth.

    If I'm not offended, then your opinions are worth less than David Cameron's on anything.

  • Comment number 68.


    If you don't like it - vote with your feet.

    I'm neither a politician nor a legal professional - I'm a voter with a mind, an opinon and a means to deliver both.

    If you don't like the more acerbic aspects of my nomenclature you should reserve your attendance for a forum where opinion won't offend you.

  • Comment number 69.

    old nat @ 67

    your opinions are worth less than David Cameron's on anything

    now thut's what I call a proper pat down!

  • Comment number 70.

    Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi is released from prison on compassionate grounds; this is WRONG ! What compassion did HE show the victims of the worst act of terrorism to befall the UK? Megrahi was convicted of killing 270 people - 189 of them American - when a Pan Am plane was blown up over Lockerbie in December 1988; SHAME on the Scotland Government - this mass murderer should have remained in jail until the end of his life. He shows no remorse - and of course having dropped his appeals - and is treated as a hero in his return to Libya.

    The question has not been asked; and cannot be reasonably answered - Why could al-Megrahi not spend his last few weeks or months in palliative custody in Scotland?

    SHAME on the SNP; I will never again vote for the SNP; in fact I will actively disuade people from voting for your party ever again.

    And the man who so actively seeks publicity - alex Salmond - has been conspiciuously silent and absent on the matter.

    Kenny McAskill has shamed the Scottish people, brought the Scottish justice system into disrepute and embarrassed the country in the eyes of the world. Well done SNP (sic)...and shame on you.

  • Comment number 71.

    #70 elginvoice

    Let me guess. You live in a constituency with SNP MPs and MSPs. You didn't vote SNP previously and you are simply posturing.

  • Comment number 72.


    Alex Salmond's been quiet onthe matter because it has NOTHING TO DO WITH HIM

    If you cannot grasp that this decision was taken in a judicial context - what hope do we have of educating the other nescient plebs who spew venomous bile at anything they cannot comprehend?

    The SNP did not make this decision - you might like to believe things to the contrary - but when the dust settles and the facts are shown - Macaskil will be vindicated for following due process and the rule of law - not partisan one-upmanship like Tavish Scott and David Cameron have shown throughout.

    If the speaker of the holyrood parliament rejected calls for the recall of parliament before a decision was made - then you can bet your bottom dollar that he knows politics cannot and should not interfere with a judicial decision - regardless of how much media, political or emotion pressure is added.

    I don't believe he should have been released but it was not my or any other SNP member, supporter or politician who made the decision.

    It was the justice secretary of scotland in his capacity as that person.

    Until you grasp that notion, understand it and accept the truth - I fear you will never appreciate what constitutes law and what constitutes politics.

  • Comment number 73.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 74.

    when we in Scotland need to take advice on legal process and compassion from the USA I'll know it's time to leave the country.

    70 elginvoice - lets suppose he did die in Greenock jail, what do you suppose would happen when his body was flown home? He would become the greatest Libyan martyr in modern history - see the bigger picture man!

    It's not all bad news though, maybe now we won't be subjected to the appalling sight of Alex Salmond making puppy dog eyes at Sean Connery at the tartan day parade in New York. The film star who loves Scotland so much he doesn't even live here!

    I do agree with you on one point though, I'll never vote SNP either!

  • Comment number 75.

    Hi Laura

    Coming back to your blog after midnight, I realise that there is another reason for you to keep your post-productivity rate up. If you don't keep things moving the "usual suspects" get into one of their clubby back-biting sessions. They seem to love exchanging minor insults, then sniping back and forth for the rest of the evening. If you kept changing subjects, maybe they would reset occasionally. Or remain behind while the rest of us move on. But I suppose it would extend your hours somewhat.

    Failing that, perhaps we "outsiders" could be issued with a filtering tool that, for example, allowed us to filter all Saga contributions after the first three snappish outbursts. Or all Susan Crofts after the first two purse-lipped corrections. Or any Oldnat posts within 30 minutes of each other.

    Still, must flit off to my perch for the night. Dawn is only a few hours away...

  • Comment number 76.

    It makes you weep, sometimes.

    A group of Scottish Judges were convened in a court in Holland (The Netherlands) to try a bloke who may have been - or possibly not have been - guilty as charged.

    The Scottish judicial representatives believed the evidence. Then the convict was removed for incarceration in a Scottish managed judicial environment.

    Separate from the "English" legal system. And not part of a "U.K." legal system. Because that doesn't exist.

    So, a Scottish politician can decide on a certain approach. But the UK's foreign policy or defence issues are of no concern to them, since they have no jurisdiction and increasingly less influence.

    (Sorry, I forgot, the MPs for Scottish constituencies - those in the Westminster place who can't actually have any effect on their own constituents, but happily vote on all the stuff that affects English, Welsh or N.I. voters. Of course, that's really democratic. Get elected, don't really have to worry about what you vote for as long as it is "out of here, so not really interesting".

    It's funny. I liked the idea of a devloved Scottish Executive. But a Scot, who raised very difficult issues for the Westminster bucnh, quite rightly said that the "West Lothian" issue would need to be resolved.

    Who, exactly, has tackled that issue since then?

    I really don't mind the fact that Scottish Laws are different from "English" laws. Some seem to be much more practical. (And should probably be incorprated into a UK law environment.)

    But I care a little bit that an MP elected to a Scottish constituency can have minimal influence over the real-life issues affecting his or her Scottish constituents (because so many matters have been "devolved"), but happily votes for matters that affect only the English or Welsh.

    It still amazes me that Scot students could receive benefits to manage their way through higher education in their own "contry" - which are avaibable to students from the EU, but NOT to the English.

    I always assumed that England - like Scotland - was part of the E.U.

    So how does that work?

    Gordon is having a happy holiday time doing good stuff in the community.(I'd guess ten years too late.) Maybe he could work out some sensible reason why the English aren't part of the EU, so totally rediculous Scots educational "grants" could be accessed by Spanish or Greek citizens, but not by the English? How does that link to the anti-discrimation matra we've heard for so long?

    Just when was discrimination within a single Nation deemed acceptable?

    Watch out. We helped to break up Yugoslavia. I just hope that nobody worries if a UN force comes in to break up the UK.

  • Comment number 77.

    Sagamix, just what type of justice are you supporting, could it be the same one that convicted Gerry Conlon, Paul Hill and others, while hiding the truth, that those people were innocent?.

  • Comment number 78.

    #76 fairlyopenmind

    Dry your tears little man (or woman).

    "But I care a little bit that an MP elected to a Scottish constituency can have minimal influence over the real-life issues affecting his or her Scottish constituents (because so many matters have been "devolved"), but happily votes for matters that affect only the English or Welsh."

    Few Scots (other than Labour Party members who want to exercise control over England) would disagree that English affairs are a matter for the English alone.

    A gentle reminder, however. If you guys had paid any attention to the devolution debate elsewhere in the UK, instead of assuming that "England Rules" then you could have secured symmetric devolution. That the English were too lazy and complacent to secure their own constitutional settlement is entirely their own fault. Do you expect the rest of us to be sorry for a people who simply assumed superiority?

  • Comment number 79.


    I am not very happy with the decision of Scottish Secretary of Law affairs...

    Releasing the Lockerbie Bomber although, he has only (x) months of life left...

    =Dennis Junior=

  • Comment number 80.

    Merlin_18 #51: '"In siding with a country like America that is devoid of compassion and has the death penalty he (Cameron) is identifying himself with the inventors of Guantanamo. At least we in Europe are civilized enough not to have the death penalty and the incarceration of prisoners like in America, where revenge and retribution abounds in their penal code."

    As one who is utterly ashamed of my nationality a good 70% of the time, and as one who is more so utterly disgusted with our tendency to sentence far too many people to prison terms for crimes that in my opinion don't really deserve them, not to mention the tendency to hand down some of the most extensive and harshest prison sentences for rape and murder of the developed world, I wholeheartedly sympathise with your rebuke of my nation's laws and judicial process. However, forgive me, but I think it purely immature and ignorant of you to dub its penal code as being one in which "revenge and retribution abounds," not to mention your outright assertion that we are a nation that is "devoid" of compassion!! "Devoid?" 300 million people? Every public servant? Really? Facts please?

    Outlandish statements such as this denote the idea that there is no desire for justice in my nation, and soly a desire to cause as many people as much pain for as long as possible, and that's simply untrue.

    Incidentally, while I yearn for the day when we can join the rest of the civilized world in the abolition of the death penalty in the 36 states in the union that still (in theory) have it, I would advise you not to build that pedestal too high, as it was only about a decade ago when Europe completed its abolishment of capital punishment, with the UK (I believe) being the last to ban it. You should also keep in mind, that while technically 36 states in our union still have capital punishment on the books, Texas is really the only one that employs it to any great extent.

    And "America" didn't invent Guantanamo. George Bush did. A grave error which Obama is seaking to correct.

  • Comment number 81.

    contrahegemony #62: '"America is being found wanting - I think they are on the decline - hurrah!"

    Fine with me!! We can never seem to make anyone happy anyway.

  • Comment number 82.

    contrahegemony #36: '"Further, I would like to suggest that the fundamentalist eye for an eye mentality coming out from across the pond doesn't appear to differ much from that of the Taliban and their like."

    True, good point. There's just one miner flaw in this perspective, though. The Taliban don't usually tend to give their law breakers trials, much less fair ones.

  • Comment number 83.

    ScorpioRicardo #74: '"when we in Scotland need to take advice on legal process and compassion from the USA I'll know it's time to leave the country."

    As if I needed anymore reasons to loathe George Bush!! He really screwed things up for us!! Now thanks to him, it will be a long, long time, if at all, before anyone abroad sees anything good in the United States of America except perhaps for the odd Hollywood film. Which is a shame, because we really do have so much more to offer the world!

    Thanks Duba!!

  • Comment number 84.

    I must say that I find all these "proud Scots" to be very strange. They are like the Texan nationalists we have here - a bunch of fringe right-wing wackos. But apparently these SNPs pride themselves on their progressiveness and "compassion".

    For a relative of one of the deceased to show mercy is admirable, but the people who lost nothing in the affair, and then feel it necessary to publicly applaud the decision...well I think that is deplorable. This hollier than thou attitude (that says "if you don't understand then it must be because you are not properly human or you do not come from a morally advanced society like Scotland") is rather sickening.

  • Comment number 85.

    John_From_Hendon #65: '"I have to admit that I was holding my breath until the plane carrying Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi had landed in Libya - I was half expecting some illegal military action by the USA against the plane! But at least the new President has distanced himself from his predecessors in not approving any such action
    - there is hope for civilisation in the USA yet! (But not much hope I fear!)"

    As is dictated by our constitution, the president is the commander and chief of the armed forces. That means that the president, and the president alone, would give the order to shoot down the plane or what have you. So really you must be thankful that Obama hasn't the same digree of insanity as his predecessors.

  • Comment number 86.


    Derek Barker in deep, thoughtful, probing question mode, with no political baggage??

    Nurse... the smelling salts, I've come over all unneccessary..... :-)

    Well Saga, its a darned good question....... what say you???

  • Comment number 87.

    fubar @ 86

    what do I say? ...

    well I'm not sure because I think Derek has me mixed up with somebody else!

  • Comment number 88.

    Little known fact (it appears) to most Scots. Scotland and the U.S.A. have a Treaty to extradict to the US, all murderers of US citizens rather than returning them to their home countries. You have violated that treaty and our trust.

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    "5. At 5:46pm on 20 Aug 2009, scorpioRicardo wrote:
    I'm really disappointed by David Cameron's comments. I've always felt he spoke a great deal of sense but his outburst today is almost as bad as Hillary Clinton's comments.

    No matter what these people think, this has nothing to do with either of them. It was a crime over Scotland, investigated under Scottish Law, in a Scottish Court and sentenced by Scottish judges to serve time in a Scottish prison.

    Surely this decision is ultimately, solely and totally down to the Scottish Justice Secretary and no-one else?"

    I agree but I just find it very odd that the decision was taken 2 weeks after a certian lord with a 37word job title during his holiday meats up with the son of the leader to discuss Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi release.

    I would be shocked like so many other NuLabour U turns, if the all power full lord had nothing to do with this U Turn.

  • Comment number 91.

    There are two reasons to be disgusted at this sham.

    1. The blatant and cowardly action of releasing a murderer to a hero's welcome where he was greeted not just by waving Libyan flags but by proudly waving Scottish flags!

    It is clear that this is a Libyan political coup over western supidity and mediocrity. The rest of the world is laughing at us. We are now without doubt to be considered the weakest nation of fools on the planet.

    2. The sheer duplicity of this government that they would put us in this position, deliberately and without shame.

    Fact: large tracts of Oil exist under the Libyan desert. Fact: BP Would like very much to get that oil. Fact: Peter Mandelson meets Gadaffi's son and within months, BP get a contract and a murderer is released to a hero's welcome.

    Then our Foreign Secretary goes live on air to say 'it has nothing to do with us, honest guv.' Which In effect is saying, Scotland's devolution is so far advanced now that Scotland can take legal decisions that may or may not have foreign implications that could have the potential to lead the UK into war and the government will not intervene.

    To all intents and purposes Scotland is now clearly independent, why not say so and then let the English, Welsh and Irish divorce themselves from this utter madness.

    If it wasn't so scary it would be laughable.

  • Comment number 92.

    If a decision is made that Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi is accountable for the bombing, and murdering 270 people, then it must be stuck to. If no other evidence emerges he is still guilty. Any divergence from this undermines and makes a mockery of the rule of law.

    There seems to be a worrying underlying jurisprudence emerging that irrespective of the crime committed, in this case one of the most heinous, if the convicted falls ill they will be released! The decision was utterly wrong.

    One can’t help but feel that the decision was not based on legal principle, or in fact compassion, but made to in order to save the money that would have been spent on healthcare in sustaining this barbaric criminal’s life.

  • Comment number 93.


    A teensy bit over the top in the analysis that it might lead to war, but the guts of what you're saying I'm afraid, I think is accurate.

  • Comment number 94.

    Whatever decision MacAskill made was certain to upset someone. Personally I think it's probably the right decision but it's been handled in a very cack handed way. The rumours of oil deals will really stick in people's throats even if they aren't true.

    I'm pretty sick of many of the statements coming from both sides, Megrahi is dying, there is no doubt about that or he wouldn't have been released. If there was a chance he could make a recovery then he wouldn't have been let out as the SNP would face electoral annihilation if he did and therefore there is a strong case for compassionate release.

    Equally I'm disgusted at some of the "We showed the Yanks!" comments. That should not have been a factor in this decision. People show bear in mind the feelings of the relatives of the victims who have a real life sentence before making any comment on this affair.

  • Comment number 95.

    Watching the development of this, two comments I made earlier (#20) now seem to be fully justified...

    1) Reading the comments on here and the main 'Have Your Say' - socialists think mass murder is OK so long as it's Americans that are killed.

    2) The special status of scotland as an oppressed colony of England is dead and buried in the US. Bit like American support for the IRA became unfashionable after 9-11. That's a very good result for England.

    Originally I thought this was terrible, but in reality one bloke going back to Libya is not the big picture here.

    A split between scotland and the US is much more important.

  • Comment number 96.

    MajorGIJane, pity it does'nt work BOTH ways eh?
    IRA collections in the US.
    Iranian commercial aircraft?
    Either of these make you blush?

  • Comment number 97.

    Good Morning All

    A difficult decision but one I think Kenny MacAskill got right. For making this courageous decision he should be applauded. We should value compassion even on those that have wronged us. Of course this is easy to do for those of us divorced from this terrible atrocity.

    Was he guilty or not? Unfortunately I do not think we will ever know the truth. These answers lie in Libya where I suspect they have been buried deep.

    I do not agree with Cameron's remarks and in my opinion he should have kept out of the debate. What were his motives? Nobody but him will know. Surely by now he would know that he would be branded an opportunist, so maybe they are honourable. But, he has every right to voice his opinion, as do all the bloggers here.

    I have read many impassioned comments on this blog. The Scots and the English comes in all varieties and we should celebrate our differences. The issues on devolution that have arisen over this case (and others in the past) concern the system that is in place. There is no doubt that the system needs altering. Scottish independence would force this to occur.

  • Comment number 98.

    #46 old Nat No of-fence taken at your reply what so-ever It was Aberdeen Angus that was in the pack.?So i take it then that the trial it self was in fact decided on the similarities of the last war crimes commission? that instead of a jury three top Scottish judges ruled over the case?If that is so it could be concluded that one judge would rule over the other two as they had to decide if the individual was guilty or not and then be asked to give guidance over the guilty party this in it self denotes a jury dose it not? But on a much reduced scale.Only asked.

  • Comment number 99.

    The lack of guidance from Whitehall in this matter is utterly shocking, as per the Scottish Justice Minister's statement. It seems whenever a tough call is to be made Whitehall ministers do a "Macavity" and disappear. If a political party wants to be in power, you take the rough with the smooth.

    Incidentally upon reading about the aftermath of Pan Am 103 I was struck by a sense of deja vu. Air accident investigators were initially prevented from examining the crash scene by FBI and CIA officers who also took away what could have been vital evidence.

    The deja vu? Oh, after 9/11 at Ground Zero CIA officials also prevented access to the downed buildings especially at building 7, which was a 47 storey office block, was not struck by any planes, had a few small fires burning and suddenly collapsed like a house built of cards. The CIA took away several tons of building rubble. Plus ca change!!!!

    The CIA were also forced to reluctantly concede (and I mean very) that they were tenants in all seven buildings.

  • Comment number 100.

    A split with the US?
    Most unlikely!Far too many friends and family for that and over a doubtful conviction? No.

    Besides which it is not the American people that lead us into illegal wars.
    It is not the American people who attempt to dictate to the rest of the world.
    Hopefully, a new dawn arrived with your new President.
    I'd like him to keep a tight rein on his Sec. of State though.


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