South Scotland

Lockerbie bomber release 'in good faith'

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi
Image caption Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi was freed from prison on medical grounds last year

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has told the House of Commons that the decision to free the Lockerbie bomber from prison was made "in good faith".

His comments came amid the ongoing row about the circumstances surrounding the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi last year.

US senators have called for an inquiry into how that decision was reached.

Relatives of those killed at Lockerbie are now pressing for a full inquiry into the atrocity itself.

Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish government's justice secretary, released Megrahi, who has prostate cancer, last year on compassionate grounds after being told that three months was a "reasonable estimate" of his life expectancy.

However, he is still alive after almost a year and the issue has dominated much of UK Prime Minister David Cameron's visit to the US this week.

Mr Moore, the Lib Dem MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, told his fellow MPs he did not believe an inquiry was necessary into the decision to release the Libyan.

He said: "I understand the anguish not just in Lockerbie, or in Scotland, but across the world about what happened in the course of the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

"But can I say that I believe the medical decision was in good faith."

He added that the prime minister had proposed a full review of what papers existed on the subject to see if any further information could be made public.

Both Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and Mr MacAskill have defended the decision to free Megrahi.

'Unanswered questions'

For his part, Mr Cameron has said he believes it was wrong to release him, but has resisted calls for an inquiry.

US senators want a probe into concerns that oil giant BP may have lobbied for Megrahi's release in order to help secure an offshore deal with Libya - claims which the company denies.

Now calls for a separate inquiry into the atrocity itself have been renewed by families of some of the 270 people who were killed.

Pamela Dix, spokeswoman for UK Families Flight 103, said they had written to Mr Cameron seeking a full independent inquiry into the bombing.

She said they had faced years of "denials and obfuscation to the many unanswered questions about Lockerbie".

She has also criticised Mr Salmond for suggesting UK families were broadly in favour of the compassionate release of Megrahi.

Ms Dix said that was a "misrepresentation" and most families had wanted Megrahi's appeal, which he dropped prior to his release, to continue.

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