By G.A.Ponsonby
Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill has revealed that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi had given a written undertaking to drop his appeal against conviction for the Lockerbie bombing months before both men met in Greenock Prison.
The provisional undertaking was signed by the Libyan prior to his application for compassionate release but at a time when he was aware that any outstanding appeal would have prevented his return to Libya via the Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA).

The PTA was the result of secret negotiations between former Labour PM Tony Blair and Muammar Gaddafi in the infamous ‘deal in the desert’.  It is known that the former Labour Government were actively engaged in negotiations with the Libyans to have Megrahi freed from the Greenock prison and returned to Libya in return for deals on energy.

Mr MacAskill was making a statement to the Holyrood chamber after opposition MSPs accused him of doing a deal with the dying Libyan in order to set him free.  The claims have been repeated in various Scottish media outlets and have been given high profile coverage on the BBC.

They follow claims in the book ‘Megrahi – You Are My Jury’ in which Mr Megrahi spoke of being told by a Libyan official, Abdel Ati Al-Obeidi, that Mr MacAskill had said that it would be easier to grant compassionate release if the appeal was dropped.

However in a statement yesterday, the Justice Minister categorically denied the claims, saying “presiding officer, these claims are wrong”.

Mr MacAskill opened his statement by offering his condolences to the relatives of those who perished in the downing of Pan Am 103.

He explained that a record of his communications with the Libyan delegation has been in the public domain since September 2009 and that at no time was he, or any of his officials, alone with any Libyan representative.

“These records are made by impartial civil servants to ensure that there is a proper historic record of important discussions.” he said.

“In addition to the minute kept, presiding officer, let me be quite clear.  Scottish Government officials were present throughout my meeting with Mr Al-Obeidi.

“At no time did I or any other member of the Scottish Government suggest to Mr Al-Obeidi, to anyone connected to the Libyan Government or indeed to Mr al-Megrahi himself that abandoning his appeal against conviction would in any way aid or affect the application for compassionate release.”

The Justice Secretary told the chamber that compassionate release did not require the dropping of an appeal unlike the PTA.  It is already known that Megrahi’s legal team advised their client that an appeal was not a barrier to compassionate release.

Mr MacAskill insisted that he had taken no part in the decision to drop the appeal and that it had been a decision taken by Mr Megrahi and his legal team.

He said: “The Scottish Government had no interest whatsoever in Mr al-Megrahi’s appeal being abandoned.”

Mr MacAskill then revealed that Mr Megrahi had already given a written undertaking to drop his appeal on March 23rd 2009, which, said Mr MacAskill, was at a time when Mr Megrahi already knew that an appeal was a barrier to release under the PTA.

The Minister also quashed claims that the Scottish Government was trying to delay the publication of the SCCRC report that contained the six reasons that cast doubt on Mr Megrahi’s conviction.

“Presiding Officer” said Mr MacAskill “Nothing could be further from the truth.  This legislation introduced by this Scottish Government, will enable the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission to decide whether it is appropriate to disclose information in cases they have investigated where a subsequent appeal has been abandoned.”

Mr MacAskill insisted that the legislation would leave the SCCRC as the decision maker on whether they published the report.  He said that the new information now in the public domain may well lead the commission to consider publication. 

However he reminded the chamber that data protection legislation, which was reserved to Westminster, was a key barrier to disclosure and revealed that he had already written on three occasions to UK Justice Minister Ken Clark urging a review of the situation and had written a fourth letter that same day urging for an exception to be made to allow publication in what he described as “this unique case”.

“Let no-one be in any doubt” said a determined looking Mr MacAskill “We want the statement of reasons to be published …”

Mr MacAskill then made an unexpected announcement when he confirmed that a route allowing the appeal to be revived existed.

“It would involve an application being made for a further reference by the SCCRC, the commission deciding to make a reference and for the High Court to accept such a reference.”

He added: “That is a matter I would be entirely comfortable with”.

Here is Mr MacAskill’s statement in full.  It contains some new revelations.

Here is how BBC Scotland covered this story.  Readers can judge for themselves whether the reporter, Glenn Campbell, who described Kenny MacAskill as “the toast of Tripoli” on the evening of Megrahi’s release, gave a balanced and accurate depiction of the statement.


# clootie 2012-03-01 07:10
Balanced,accura te and the BBC seldom appear in posts here!
# fynesider 2012-03-01 09:33
"Readers can judge for themselves whether the reporter, Glenn Campbell, ..... gave a balanced and accurate depiction of the statement."

In no way could this be described as "balanced or accurate" - how do they sleep at night?
# nottooweeorstupid 2012-03-01 11:09
I've known Glenn since he was a wee boy and he was a lovely wee boy - I'm not sure when exactly he turned into such a wee (moderators I'll do the job for you and not say it.)
# Robabody 2012-03-01 14:02
Trying to climb the greasy pole perhaps??
# Vincent McDee 2012-03-01 16:27
Is like oor glenn has been promised a reportership abroad with the rUk BBC, once we become independents.

There is not very many other explanations to that kind of professional death wish.

If a lowly pathetic quay reporter bears this kind of contempt for one of our ministers, imagine his masters.

In the meantime, his masters....

Extraordinary tales of fraud and failure in Whitehall

The scale of the sums being lost in Whitehall due to crime and error boggles the mind.
# Arbroath1320 2012-03-01 16:38
Just never forget Vincent. As "Call me Dave" keeps telling us, "We're all in it together!"

Aye that'll be right Bubba!
# mudfries 2012-03-01 07:19
I'm sure the BBC and the rest of the Unionist media will give this as much air time as they gave some guy trying to promote a book, not. Isnt it great the coverage you get if the BBC and co think its damaging to the SNP, the author of that book will be laughing all the way to the bank.

I'm going to write a book claiming Alex Salmond was the second gunman on the grassy knoll.... watch this space!!!
# jafurn 2012-03-01 08:04
Who said there were 2 gunmen on the grassy knoll

How do these rumours start I wonder????
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-01 10:26
I don't think it's fair to characterise this as "some guy trying to promote a book". Ashton has been researching Lockerbie for at least 20 years. He was a researcher on Francovich's 1994 film The Maltese Double Cross. He co-authored an earlier book on Lockerbie, published in 2001, Cover-up of Convenience.

Almost as soon as Megrahi was allowed to return to Libya, the extra freedom that gave him to explain what he knew and his side of the story was always the great hope for more revelations and more hope of getting past the impasse of his conviction and somewhere on the road to the truth. Megrahi chose Ashton to write his story for him.

This is a lot more than "a book", it's the most comprehensive demolition of the Crown case against Megrahi produced to date. Ashton has read the SCCRC report, for God's sake. He's put a lot of that into the book. By doing that, he may have nullified the legal challenges to publication and opened the door for the whole thing to be released.

Not just "a book".

PS. "Laughing all the way to the bank"? Ashton has said he doesn't expect the book to make any money, but if it does the proceeds will be donated to charity. MOJO Scotland is the nominated charity, I believe.
# mudfries 2012-03-01 17:51
Is that so Soixante-neuf? hey, thats fair enough, in the end we ALL want the truth to come out. I'll admit though I havent heard of his last two books, if only he had sections in them that could be twisted and used by the BBC against the SNP, I've a funny feeling I would have heard of them then.
# Robabody 2012-03-01 14:04
Here mudfries, young Grassy Knollinton wont be happy about that! You better check with him first.
# SHANGHAI SCOT 2012-03-01 07:42
A lucid representation of the facts regarding the staement, unlike other outlets that I can access.
# Welsh Sion 2012-03-01 08:17
Forgive me for being completely off-topic, but it's still early in the day here and I know I'm read.

May I wish my namesake, compatriots in Scotland and elsewhere, and honorary Welsh people amongst your readership, a wonderful St David's Day.

Feel free to raise a glass or three in our honour, wherever you are reading this.

Diolch yn fawr. Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus i chi gyd.
# dogcollar 2012-03-01 09:02
I was at Cardiff for a Scotland rugby match a few years back and since then I hold dear my friendship of the Welsh people. Have a great day and I will have a cup of tea in your honour.
# Diabloandco 2012-03-01 09:05
Happy St David's Day to you ,there are two daffodils in bloom in my garden - the rest have been assaulted by a squirrel and several terribly common pigeons!
A glass will be raised later!
# Embradon 2012-03-01 09:42
I'll consider myself Welsh for the day and partake in that glass!

On 4th July I will have a bourbon and toast Independence Day - (or do we have to call it Separation Day???)
# RJBH 2012-03-01 09:48
...and the same to you Welsh Sion... my dad being Welsh always reminded me of the times he was punished at school for talking in Welsh.... Let this be a very happy day for the Welsh... very well done your brilliant rugby team!!
# nottooweeorstupid 2012-03-01 10:17
Sion, I forgive you for beating us at the rugby, it's hard to bear a grudge against such great singers.
Happy St David's day to you, we value your support!
# chiefy1724 2012-03-01 10:24
I'll forgive you even more for every time that you have beaten your neighbours to the east of the dyke.

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant
# nottooweeorstupid 2012-03-01 10:47
would that be our neighbours to the south of the wall?
I actually have great admiration for their rugby team, it's the commentators I can't stomach!
Wish we could beat them though..... maybe next year!
# Robabody 2012-03-01 14:09
Here's to the saint and the folks of Wales!
# Teri 2012-03-01 20:06
Sorry, I'm so late in wishing you and all our other Welsh cousins a happy St David's day today. I was thinking of you all, however, when I hosted a wee Daffodil tea this afternoon and when I ate my leek and potato soup at dinner time.
# SHANGHAI SCOT 2012-03-01 08:25
It's the end of the day for me, and in my local wil certainly raise a glass to you WS and all your countrymen
# Ready to Start 2012-03-01 08:30
O/T overhead salesman in local newsagent's shop offering incentives from Daily Mail to increase circulation and compared Daily Mail to The Scotsman which says it all about The Scotsman.............however will these incentives be declared by the Scotland says No campaign given the Daily Mail's visceral hatred of the SNP and Independence.
# alicmurray 2012-03-01 08:33
To all our Welsh friends Happy St David's Day.

WS have a great time.
# dundie 2012-03-01 08:40
# Macart 2012-03-01 09:20
Same here. :)
# src19 2012-03-01 09:30
Ditto, Love today's St David's Day Google Doodle.
# UpSpake 2012-03-01 08:45
The perfidious hand of Albion and the demon Blair is all over this. I firmly believe Kenny McAskill is an honorable man and that the Scots government has nothing to hide as relates to this situation.
But, what of the legal establishment ?.
# Fourfolksache 2012-03-01 08:45
Aye, here's to Wales! If we succeed then Wales can only benefit - even if it is not Independence. True country status and not a principality would be a good start?
# dogcollar 2012-03-01 09:07
Having listened to the debate on television I thought the opposition case was at best flimsy. Kenny MacAskill seemed to me to be in total command of his brief.
Glenn Campbell was trying hard to get blood from a stone from this hardly newsworthy issue of hearsay to incriminate the SNP.Is there no end to this man's crass and cheap politicking of the news

In an independent Scotland I hope Campbell is given the boot to London; nearer his paymasters
# Dubai_scot 2012-03-01 15:52
Are we being a bit too hard on Glenn? Could it be he is just not quite up to the job?
# Macart 2012-03-01 09:18
That was an excellent stand up speech by KM. If I were the opposition and the media I'd think twice about chasing this. From the statement the SG are actively pursuing the release of the report and that will almost undoubtedly open a whole new can of stank.
# Marian 2012-03-01 09:23
Kenny MacAskill has been more than honest and frank in dealing with the anti-SNP parties smear attempts, and now it is extremely obvious that the anti-SNP political parties have no desire for the truth to be known about the Lockerbie bombing, for they are up to their necks in a mire of their own deceit, subterfuge, and disinformation on the subject.
# thomsor 2012-03-01 09:41
Glen Campbell the toast of the Unionist Department of BBC Scotland should be the one to apologise for this insidious muck raking. Journalist? er no.
# Arbroath1320 2012-03-01 13:26
I wonder how long it took him to get the egg off his face last night after his little mobile Q & A session with K.M.
# RJBH 2012-03-01 09:55
The Unionists and the BBC have always used Mr Al Magrahi against the SNP... even on his death bed... the BBC continues to use him.. but frnkly our (unionist) judges seemed to be required to come to a guilty verdict.. did this directive come from Westminster? will we ever be allowed to find out?
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-01 10:00
I think we have to bear in mind that this article is talking about two different things, and in danger of conflating them.

The Prisoner Transfer negotiations started well before Megrahi was diagnosed with cancer, and so before there was any question of release on compassionate grounds. Compassionate release is an existing feature of Scots law, so no extra legislation was required for that, but the UK and Libya did not previously have any Prisoner Transfer Agreement.

The PTA with Libya was negotiated by Blair and Straw in the months leading up to the Deal in the Desert, and it was a very peculiar situation. Of course Megrahi was whom it was all about, as there was no other Libyan national in custody in Britain. However, Westminster did not have jurisdiction. Prior to May 2007 that was not a problem, as Jack McConnell would have done what Blair told him to do. After May 2007, the date of the Deal in the Desert as well as the SNP's election victory, it was.

At that point it became seriously likely that Blair could negotiate a deal, and be unable to deliver because the SNP government said no. The Libyans apparently could not understand this and believed it would all be hunky-dory. But what started to happen is that MacAskill was demanding that Megrahi be specifically excluded from the agreement, because of promises given the the US victims' relatives that Megrahi would serve all his sentence in Scotland. Straw was at first inclined to agree, but then dug his heels in because of Libyan pressure. (It would have been a pointless agreement without Megrahi anyway.) The deal went through, but with MacAskill being assured that he would have a veto. (Blair and Straw may have assumed MacAskill would no longer have a veto after May 2011, but that went wrong too.)

This PTA with Libya was a very strange agreement, in that (unlike other comparable agreements) it was not open to the prisoner to apply. Instead the application had to come from the Libyan government. And no outstanding appeals could be carried through. The details look awfully like a recipe to put Megrahi over a barrel. Libya would apply immediately for Prisoner Transfer, which would oblige Megrahi to withdraw his appeal. If he refused, and said he'd rather wait for the appeal to be concluded, Libya could say, well don't expect us to renew the application in that case. Megrahi had already been screwed over by a Scottish court twice. Would he risk it?

So that's where we were. Megrahi wanted to see the appeal through, but was desperate to return home. So he agreed that he would withdraw his appeal if Prisoner Tnansfer was granted.

But it never came to that. He developed cancer, and that brought compassionate release on to the table. That legislation does not require dropping an appeal. In fact nothing required dropping the appeal, because there was always the road of the PTA being granted on condition the appeal was dropped, and Megrahi then doing that.

The hurried dropping of the appeal a couple of days before the compassionate release never made a lick of sense. The way it was announced very much suggested it was conditional - Megrahi WILL withdraw his appeal, and then he WILL be granted compassionate release. It really did look as if MacAskill had leaned on him. I thought so, then.

Now, MacAskill has categorically denied this, and Megrahi says the leaning was actually done by al-Obedi, who claimed he was relaying MacAskill's position.

The prior agreement to drop the appeal if the PTA provisions were invoked is actually not very relevant, as the PTA provisions were not invoked and weren't ever going to be invoked. It rather looks as if al-Obedi, on behalf of the Gaddafi regime, was angling to get the appeal off the table anyway, and prepared to lie to Megrahi for that purpose.

Possibly. It's still all very confusing and pretty murky.
# tartanfever 2012-03-01 10:13
Luckily I'm not a politician.

After the political ground the unionist camp (Press, BBC and all the FUD parties) have tried to claim by being selective on their fact picking - in reply I would be saying 'publish and be damned' with it, and lets see the facts surrounding the actions of those parties.
# The_Duke 2012-03-01 10:23
I'm with you on this one Tartanfever.

Seems that KM and AS have been shoved into a datk alley.... where they are free to have mud slung at them by the Unionists.

Publish the report and watch them all start running in London and Washington. I got a funny feeling our Judges will not look good.... but they should be accountable as any other person.

Lets just see how much coverage this would get from the media then.
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-01 10:36
The judges. Yes. The bizarre thing is that it shouldn't need any new revelations to have the conviction overturned. It was perverse, and recognised as perverse from the moment it was announced.

The judges relied on circular reasoning - what the legal eagles call petitio principii.

- Although Gauci didn't definitely identify Megrahi as the clothes buyer, they decided it was him because he was in Malta on the date of the purchase, and he was at the airport when the bomb was smuggled on board.

- The date of the purchase seemed very probably 23rd November, with an outside chance of 7th December, but they decided it must have been 7th December because Megrahi was in Malta that day!

- The evidence that anything had been transferred unaccompanied from KM180 from Malta to PA103A at Frankfurt was tenuous in the extreme. And there was solid evidence that nothing unaccompanied had been loaded on KM180 at Malta. But the judges decided that this tenuous hint of an unexplained item at Frankfurt must have been the bomb - because Megrahi had been at the airport in Malta when that flight departed!

You couldn't make it up. Except they did.

At the same time they ignored a humungous pile of evidence suggesting the bomb had been introduced at Heathrow, much later in the day. They even invented their own excuses to pretend the case seen at Heathrow might not have been the bomb. They also handwaved away all the evidence showing murderous intent and bomb-making by the PFLP-GC, while branding Megrahi a bomb-maker and terrorist on precisely no evidence at all.

Yes, concealing evidence such as the break-in at Heathrow and Henderson's luggage reconciliation analysis that showed the case at Heathrow did not belong to a legitimate passenger, is bad. But the biggest scandal is that three judges sentenced a man to life imprisonment on evidence that shouldn't have been enough to support the issuing of a parking ticket.
# The_Duke 2012-03-01 11:11
Well put 69. Very well put.
# Arbroath1320 2012-03-01 13:49
I sometimes wonder if, after, Pan Am 103 went down certain individuals made certain assumptions.

1) It was Libya "wot done it"

2) We need a Libyan "patsy"

3) al Megrahi was suspected by certain individuals as being part of the Libyan Intelligence agency.

4) al Megrahi was in Malta on December 7th.

5) Whatever evidence they had was "made to fit" around al Megrahi's time in Malta.

6) Because certain individuals were blinkered by their "certainty" Libya was involved they failed to look at other possibilities.

7) Because the "evidence" certain individuals had that they had "linked" to al Megrahi it was decided by them to back up their "evidence" with a "real" witness, one Mr Gauci.

8) because of the level of atrocity, some people "allowed" themselves to become blinkered.

9) Instead of letting the "real" evidence lead them to perpetrators of this crime some individuals involved in the case allowed themselves to be "led" by others.

10) as this atrocity occurred, I believe, close to the bombing of a Frankfurt night club then I feel certain individuals were, to some degree, understandably, focussed on revenge.

11) revenge is never a good footing from which to carry out an investigation.
# Holebender 2012-03-01 14:13
Why do you only "sometimes" wonder that?
# Arbroath1320 2012-03-01 14:20
Oh, alright, just for you Holebender.

I always wonder...... :D
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-08 17:37
The only problem is, none of that is consistent with the way things were discovered during the inquiry. If you look at what was discovered when, and how the thinking of the investigators evolved over the first two or three years, a completely different pattern emerges.

And I don't believe there was ever a bombing of a night club in Frankfurt, close to Pan Am 103 or not.
# Arbroath1320 2012-03-01 13:33
I agree tartan.

I think once published there will be one hell of a lot of squeaky bums on very shoogly seats!

Lets not forget either, once the information is out "there", you can't put it back. So the "worriers" will be left with one hell of a lot to answer for, immaterial of whether it was right or wrong to publish.
# Barontorc 2012-03-01 10:34
It seems only a matter of time before an appeal, posthumous, or otherwise is raised and I look forward to that day coming - however, given the value of information already verified and in the public domain, it has to be said that the action and more importantly, the inaction of our seekers-of-truth in the MSM and BBC is simply cretinous and disgusting.

There are villains and low-lifes spread all the way through this atrocity and I am not referring to the murderers who planned and planted the bomb.

Come the day soon!
# Stevie Cosmic 2012-03-01 10:39
Just why though, has Megrahi not consented to the release of the SCCRC report?
# Barontorc 2012-03-01 10:57
SC - Can we first of all assume, with the sort of confidence we can draw from the fact Ghadaffi was heavily involved in all of this, that Al Megrahi was lied to by the Lybian officials to drop his appeal, as a must do, to smooth the way for Ghaddafi's pals in the UK and USA?

Secondly - we have a dying Lybian man confined to his bed, isolated from the outside world, anxious and worried about all that this damnable business has brought to him and his family, dependent on goodness knows how many drugs that he needs to be provided with by his government - and then ask yourself - what will make him bite the hand that's giving him a continuation of living, never mind that it's the wretched life he now has?

What can be expected from a sick man to take on the international demons that are behind all of this - one flick of the switch and he can be gone, one button pressed and his whole family can be gone in an "unfortunate, deeply deplored accident"!

This is the game he's in!

Then again, maybe nobody has simply asked him to consent to the release?
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-01 11:13
Quoting Stevie Cosmic:
Just why though, has Megrahi not consented to the release of the SCCRC report?

Stevie, he has consented. This has been repeatedly raked over on Robert Black's blog. What he said was that he wanted everything released, not just the bits he was able to consent to. So if there's a condition there, it's the condition that everybody else involved also consents to total disclosure.
# Stevie Cosmic 2012-03-01 14:17
McAskill could have made that clearer then when answering Hamza's question about whether Megrahi was also blocking the release of the report.

I don't really understand his position however (I disagree with Barontorc's assertions above). Surely if the report is released, even with redacted elements, it will surely lead to further questions and a possible joint Scottish / UK inquiry, which can, given the new evidence, only clear Megrahi's name?
# nottooweeorstupid 2012-03-01 10:45
Can someone explain to me how a baggage handler can recognise one case he has never seen before amongst thousands, when I regularly don't recognise my own case, which lives in my house and which I have handed over only a few hours before?
Kanny MacAskill was honest, frank and statesmanlike yesterday. But there's nothing like a bit of nat-bashing to distract from the real issues, is there?
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-01 11:22
What are you talking about? What baggage handler recognising what case?

The crash happened on 21st December. On 3rd January the Met interviewed the Heathrow baggage handlers who had loaded the plane, in particular those who had handled the container by then known to have contained the bomb. John Bedford told the cops that he had left the container unattended for about half an hour while he went on a break, and when he came back someone had put two extra cases in it. He described the position of these two cases, and said that the one on the left (the one which was within 3 or 4 inches of the eventual position of the explosion) was "a maroony-brown hardshell, the type Samsonite make".

Why did he remember? Possibly because the plane fell out of the sky only two hours later, and he probably realised with a horrible sinking feeling that these two mysterious cases were probably significant. Good on him for actually telling the cops about them and not just keeping his mouth shut.

It wasn't until several weeks later that the forensics teams trawling through the debris of the crash identified the suitcase that had contained the bomb as a brown/bronze Samsonite.

That's detective work for you. That was a great breakthrough, or should have been. Except the Powers that Be really, really didn't want Heathrow to be at fault, and had already announced on 30th December that the bomb hadn't been introduced at Heathrow.

Questions, as they say, need to be asked.
# nottooweeorstupid 2012-03-01 11:43
sorry sn, I was actually asking a serious question regarding my own powers of observation. You seem a wee bit snippy this morning, hope I haven't caused that :)
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-01 11:46
Sorry if I'm coming over as snippy. I just didn't and still don't know what you find so unlikely about Bedford's evidence. He didn't "recognise one case he had never seen before", he was able to give an approximate description of a case that caught his attention because it had appeared in slightly mysterious circumstances.
# Jester 2012-03-01 10:48
Megrahi: I'd like to apply for a release under PTA.
Caskill: Sorry you can't.
Megrahi: Why not?
Caskill: While you are appealing your conviction it can't be considered.

Is that the 'advice'?
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-01 11:15
Oh for goodness sake, that's "not even wrong". Megrahi couldn't apply for transfer to a Libyan jail under the PTA, only the Libyan government could do that. And I've felt for a long time they were being manipulative in their handling of that aspect.

I wrote a long post above explaining all that. You could maybe read it some time.
# Jester 2012-03-01 11:30
Quoting Soixante-neuf:
Oh for goodness sake, that's "not even wrong". Megrahi couldn't apply for transfer to a Libyan jail under the PTA, only the Libyan government could do that. And I've felt for a long time they were being manipulative in their handling of that aspect.

I wrote a long post above explaining all that. You could maybe read it some time.

Apologies, I was posting on a smartphone and trying to summarise.
What I was getting at was that MacAskill is (if I'm understanding correctly) asserting that his stating of the position is not the same as giving advice. Unless of course he gave a long slow wink as he did so...
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-01 11:39
That's kind of what Robert Black has been suggesting happened. That the two processes were allowed to run together by MacAskill, and the conditions allowed to become conflated, and Megrahi wasn't given enough clear information to make a proper decision.

The recent statements and revelations seem to go counter to that though. I think either Kenny has lied to Parliament big-time, or the whole thing was orchestrated by the Libyan government. Who might have been pressurising them is left as an exercise for the reader.
# GrassyKnollington 2012-03-01 13:32
I think either Kenny has lied to Parliament big-time, or the whole thing was orchestrated by the Libyan government.

Hi Soixante-neuf. What do you think Kenny MacAskill would have gained from this very high risk strategy?
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-08 17:39
Nothing that I can see. Which is why I'm terminally baffled by the whole thing.
# Marga B 2012-03-01 22:07
Surely Black said that the Libyan go-between did not have a total command of English, and that he had an agenda heavily marked by Blair, never fully understanding the Scottish position. For me, he didn't accuse MacAskill of anything, even between the lines. Will take another look.
# Marga B 2012-03-01 22:11
Black says:

"I don't find it difficult to envisage Kenny saying something which Abdel Ati misconstrued, or interpreted in the way most favourable to the goal he was aiming for (Megrahi's repatriation). Abdel Ati's English, though good, is far from perfect. However, this is all just speculation on my part."

That does not even hint at any collusion by MacAskill, at least as I read it.
# patrickotic 2012-03-01 10:48
Eric Joyce caught having an affair with a schoolgirl !!!

It's so bad even Johann Lamont has commented!!!
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-01 11:48
Johann Lamont has called for him to resign his seat and says she's perfectly happy to fight a by-election. That is definitely big news.

I wonder if Her Master's Voice will squash her, now?
# chiefy1724 2012-03-01 11:50
2 takes on this particular Story. Compare and Contrast.

Warning: Daily Record

Warning: BBC North Britain
# Kinghob 2012-03-01 11:04
There is no reason for the Scottish Government to have cared about Megrahi's appeal in relation to compassionate release and there is no evidence that the appeal was a factor.......except in the case of the uk Government who don't want to release any proper documentation on any aspect of Lockerbie let alone this aspect.
# A_Scottish_Voice 2012-03-01 11:14
Campbell is beginning to sound a bit desperate.

Maybe if he stopped chasing his tail and turned his attention to Glasgow City Council, he might finding something worth while reporting on.
# brusque 2012-03-01 11:47
You would think Scoop Campbell would have realised by now - what with his amazing investigative powers and all! - that there is a massive rich seam of iniquity running right through Glasgow City Council.

Surely his time would be better spent trying to ferret out the details of the morally corrupt leanings at GCC? Instead of being forever associated with attempts to bring down a Scottish Government Minister over the "Megrahi" case.
# alexb 2012-03-01 12:05
While I wish the S.G well in their efforts to get the S.C.C.R.C to publish their report in full, it concerns me that Westminster have the have the final say in exactly what can, or cannot be seen in the draft when it is finally published. Methinks so many paragraphs will be redacted, that it will make it almost meaningless. Why? Too many secrets involving Westminster politicians, probably ministers in the last U.K Government, who won,t want their dirty washing aired in public. So, the best of luck, but I wouldn,t hold my breath.
# Holebender 2012-03-01 12:21
Given the shenanigans since the report was compiled I am surprised the SCCRC was ever allowed access to the evidence/documents in the first place. I suppose the Establishment just expected them to "do the right thing".
# Arbroath1320 2012-03-01 14:10
The trouble is Holebender that there is a world of difference between the "establishment's" expectation of what "do the right thing" is and what the Scottish government expects.
# Holebender 2012-03-01 14:29
That's their problem, not ours.
# Arbroath1320 2012-03-01 14:35

This is why I am one of those on here who say publish and be damned!
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-01 12:33
The thing is, it's already out there. Ashton has read it. Presumably he read Megrahi's copy. If they publish a redacted version, it's only a matter of time before what has been redacted is revealed.

There are times I wish he'd just send the lot to Wikileaks and be done with it.
# Arbroath1320 2012-03-01 14:08
Could this be another example of
"stay in the union" = BAD!
"leave the union" = Good!

Surely as a fully independent country we would have full control over all matters and as such would not be reliant upon another country's government to decide what we can and what we can not release.
# Jester 2012-03-01 12:10
What is this "Robert Blacks Blog"?
# Holebender 2012-03-01 12:22
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-01 12:23
Quoting Jester:
What is this "Robert Blacks Blog"?

You're welcome.
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-01 12:26
Professor Black has just posted this as a comment on his blog.

Quoting Robert Black:
I don't think Obeidi (whom I've met dozens of times) would have lied to Megrahi. But he could have misconstrued something that MacAskill said. Here's something I wrote here on 28 Feb:

Of all the Libyan officials with whom I had dealings over the years, Obeidi was the most trustworthy and transparent. However, he was very keen indeed to secure the repatriation of Megrahi in time for the fortieth anniversary of the Gaddafi revolution. My suspicion (for which I have no evidence whatsoever) is that Obeidi may have misunderstood something that MacAskill said to him or have interpreted something neutral through the prism of his desire to achieve Megrahi's return to Libya. I also know that Obeidi still had a lingering feeling that repatriation would ultimately be achieved through prisoner transfer, which he was under the impression (not unjustifiably) had been agreed to by Tony Blair in the "deal in the desert". For prisoner transfer, of course, abandonment of the appeal was essential. I had on several occasions informed Obeidi that Tony Blair was not in a position to secure transfer of a prisoner in a Scottish prison; but I was never wholly confident that he actually got the message. "But Tony told us!" was a frequent refrain.

I expanded on this in a comment:
I'm reluctant to rush to judgment over Kenny MacAskill. I can picture the Scottish and Libyan teams leaving the room at the end of one of their meetings, with Kenny walking beside Abdel Ati. I don't find it difficult to envisage Kenny saying something which Abdel Ati misconstrued, or interpreted in the way most favourable to the goal he was aiming for (Megrahi's repatriation). Abdel Ati's English, though good, is far from perfect. However, this is all just speculation on my part.
# UpSpake 2012-03-01 12:48
69. Samsonite suitcases are routinely used by the CIA, it's their hallmark if you like !.
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-01 12:58
Charles McKee had two hardshell suitcases, one of which was a Samsonite, but they were both grey.

Interestingly, there was another brown Samsonite-type case transferred from PA103A, but that was legitimately unaccompanied luggage belonging to John Hubbard, a Pan Am pilot who was flying to Karachi that day. It was found at Lockerbie, full of Christmas presents.

Understanding Lockerbie involves a lot more than posting cryptic innuendo.
# xyz 2012-03-01 13:18
OT - where can I watch FMQs today? not working here:

or here:

EDIT: update, the BBC version eventually worked.
# Dundonian West 2012-03-01 13:42
O/T16/17 yr.olds.NUS Scotland.TODAY.
# Old Smokey 2012-03-01 13:42
Just some points to ponder regarding the suitacse containing the bomb.
First there is the question of the triggering device.
If it had been a barometric pressure device, set to go off at over 30,000 ft, then loading at Malta, would result in teh bomb going off en route between Malta and Frankfurt. Same again if loaded at Frankfurt, with the likelyhood of going off between Frankfurt and London.
The other is off course the timer.
It would have taken a genius to work out what the best time would have been to go off. Simply because of too many variables involved. Remember the suitcase was supposed to have been loaded in Malta, to transfer at Frankfurt, then to transfer again at London, any delay's at any point would have meant the bomb going off anywhere.
Now we factor in the break in at Pan Am baggage shed, which was not advised at the time of the trial, but came to light later. This was a strange break in ,as nothing was taken.
It is therefore highly probable that a suitcase containing the bomb was placed in the baggage container during the break in, with the timer set to go off, over the Atlantic.
It would have been timed for an over the sea detonation, what the bombers couldnt factor in is any delays.
The last bit is the piece of the timing device, which is no bigger than a thumb nail, that was managed to be found in the middle of no where, helpfully handed into the people.
These are the hard facts, that have been overlooked
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-01 14:20
The thinking was that it was a barometric device set to trigger at a lower altitude, the altitide reached after about 7 minutes flight, and then a 30-minute (or thereabouts) capacitance-controlled timer. The timer was mainly to prevent the device going off in a ground-level pressure chamber used by airports to check for these things - they wouldn't hold the luggage there for that length of time. It also let the flight get higher before the device went off - Jibril had had a few operations abort because the plane managed to get back to the airport after the bomb went off.

But yes, it would have gone off over France somewhere if it had been loaded at Frankfurt. However, Hayes and Feraday were for some reason desperate to prove the thing had come from Frankfurt, and postulated that it had simply malfunctioned on the first leg. That would have meant that the feeder flight was the main target, but I've never read any exploration of that idea.

Then in August 1989 they decided it had actually come all the way from Malta. They held to that even though they had at that time no evidence that the device was anything other than a barometric one. What did they think? That the Air Malta flight was the primary target, but the thing malfunctioned twice?? That it had been booked on a three-flight hop "just in case"? Inquiring minds want to know but nobody is telling us.

It wasn't till the summer of 1990 that the fragment of PCB was identified as being part of a countdown timer, which solved that little riddle, quite neatly. In retrospect, that item showed up in the chain of evidence just after the decision to commit to Malta as the point of origin, it just took a year to get it formally identified. So we are led to believe. Of course the countdown timer was what they needed to absolve Heathrow and unequivocally blame Malta.

So do I think that fragment was planted? Why, yes I do. It would be very hard to prove that though.

The problem of the time of the explosion remains though. That flight wasn't due to land until 01.40 GMT. There was a huge window to set a countdown timer for the plane to vanish over the Atlantic, incriminating clues and all. Setting the time for shortly after take-off was insane - if the feeder flight had been just ten minutes later than it was, or if they had stopped to get Basuta's suitcase off when he missed the flight, PA103 would have missed its slot and could still have been on the tarmac at 19.03. No terrorist would risk that. Anyone using a countdown timer would have set it for four or five hours later than the actual explosion. And that applies whether you're trying to accuse Megrahi, or the PFLP-GC, or anyone.

And that's why the MST-13 fragment does not belong there, and that's why I think it's a plant. That and the huge pile of anomalies surrounding its documentation of course. Maybe some day this will become clearer.
# bigbuachaille 2012-03-01 13:43
FM confirmed today in FMQs that the case for publishing the report by the Scottish Criminal Review Commission is irresistible.
# lochside 2012-03-01 13:48
The Scottish legal hierachy were willing puppets for the real criminals behind all this, with their childishly easily flattered second rate minds being utilised to get the right result in the show trial of Megrahi. Manipulated by the Us and Uk governments dirty tricks departments into doing the necessary and convicting a stooge. The Scottish cringe writ large in action. The spotlight was on them, and they didn't fail in their task as Unionist stooges to carry out the inevitable. Unfortunately, I think that Macaskil would rather protect our pathetic legal systems and its egocentric judges than open us to ridicule around the world. Maybe we should ask the Supreme Court to review Megrahi's conviction? I'm sure our supine Scotbrit legal establishment would love that!
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-01 14:05
I'm tempted to agree with you there.
# Holebender 2012-03-01 14:19
Ministers cannot disagree with the judgement of the court. It would be a constitutional nightmare if they did. Why can't people grasp that?
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-01 14:24
Because people also see the Scottish government (until very recently anyway) both enthusiasticall y supporting the guilty verdict, and giving no acknowledgement at all to the existence of the SCCRC report.

One can avoid disagreeing with the judgememnt of a court without being quite such a gushing fan of a guilty verdict, and without ignoring that the SCCRC had identified six grounds for appeal.
# Holebender 2012-03-01 14:31
I have to disagree re the gov't ignoring the SCCRC report. The gov't have been trying to publish the report for years now.
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-01 17:46
Awful funny the way they've been busy erecting tripwires in the way of publishing it, then.
# Jiggsbro 2012-03-01 14:39
Grounds for appeal are just that: reasons why an appeal would be allowed, with no indication whether the appeal would be successful. Unless and until an appeal is successful, the original verdict stands and it's the original verdict that the government must agree with. Not just 'not disagree', but actually agree with.

Having said that, I've noticed no enthusiastic agreement. I've not heard the government declare its agreement with the verdict unless its specifically been asked or prompted to do so, nor have I heard it do anything more than express its confidence in the judiciary, as it is required to do in a democracy (unless there is clear evidence of a democratic deficit in the judiciary).
# Robert Louis 2012-03-01 16:44

Give what you are saying some thought. Imagine the scenario, the First Minister is being interviewed by say, Glenn Campbell, on the BBC. He is asked 'do you agree with the guilty verdict of Megrahi?'

If he says mebbes aye mebbes naw, it would open a can of worms. If he says NO, it would open a can of worms. Could you just imagine the furore, if he did anything but support the verdict.

The First Minister has no choice but to stand by the verdict until such point as the courts show the verdict to be unsafe. All democratic Governments do the same.

You are clutching at straws in pursuing the point.
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-01 17:45
I have given it some thought. The form of words consistently used by both Salmond and MacAskill has been well beyond what was necessary in order to do their duty by the court verdict.
# Marga B 2012-03-01 22:14
Don't really follow you - with the media hanging off their every word, they must not give any room for malinterpretati on. From your other comments, you really seem to suspect collusion has taken place. As others have asked, what could possibly be gained by that?
# Soixante-neuf 2012-03-01 22:41
There is nothing to be gained. That's why I don't understand what's going on.

Just following the events as they unfolded in August 2009 I had the immediate and unshakeable conviction that MacAskill had leaned on Megrahi to drop his appeal. I have no idea why he would do that. He now says he didn't, so why did Megrahi drop the appeal so suddenly two days before he was sent home?

Jim Swire has said that anyone who maintains Megrahi is factually guilty is either unfamiliar with the details of the case, or dishonest. I can see where he's coming from on that, I have to say.

There is a third category, I have met a couple, lawyers who take a rigid view that the court was entitled to interpret the evidence in the way it did. And as they are lawyers, they know best and amateur plebs do not. Is MacAskill one of these?

So, if Salmond and MacAskill really believe Megrahi is factually guilty, are they ignorant of the evidence, or dishonest, or what? If it's the first, maybe they should try to figure out what JfM and others have been saying since 2001.

If they realise the evidence reveals Megrahi to be factually innocent, then their handling of the case is absolutely inexplicable.
# Arbroath1320 2012-03-01 14:31
That's the difference between the current Scottish government and a Labour government.

The current government respects the constitution aspects with regards to their dealings with Scottish legal system. Labour wouldn't give two hoots. Labour would do whatever suited Labour best and to hell with anyone else!
# tilly 2012-03-01 13:50

From The Herald: Sarcasm is truly the lowest form of wit.
# cokynutjoe 2012-03-01 13:57
An outbreak of sickness amongst the parrots I fear!
# Dundonian West 2012-03-01 14:02
Quoting tilly:

From The Herald: Sarcasm is truly the lowest form of wit.

Dear Tilly,
I'm not sure I should thank you for the link.
The Herald must really be out of it's mind permitting this sort of journalistic drivel.
It certainly doesn't earn the newspaper any plaudits-----I read as far as line four,and truthfully just couldn't be bothered wasting my time.
'Bottom of the barrel' doesn't do it justice.
Do they PAY these people?
# J Wil 2012-03-01 15:32
I also read it to line four then ran out of credit (my five a month). I am not paying the Herald any subs.

Murdoch is a competitor who has aligned himeslf with independence, so anything goes.
# Aplinal 2012-03-01 15:35
I read as far as line four

You got further than I did. Tripe of the first order. Desperate doesn't do it justice.
# Robert Louis 2012-03-01 16:38
The sad thing is, the article sets out to be funny, but it is completely devoid of wit. It's the kind of thing 14 year olds write for a school newspaper.
# Macart 2012-03-01 14:18
Hullo MODs/Online ED

Is there a particular reason why one of my posts has just disappeared?

Please use the 'contact us' facility for any questions regarding moderation - NNS Mod Team
# Arbroath1320 2012-03-01 15:20
Sorry for being O/T here but have found this site.

It might come in useful for those who van't make it to the "Darkened Room!" :D

If you want a wee laugh, try this.
# cokynutjoe 2012-03-01 17:03
Like this Arbroath, a Fifer wi patter, well, well!
# Flora Macoo 2012-03-01 18:11
Cheeky sod!

Cheers for the appreciative comments, chaps. Nice to know I'm not always ranting away to myself. :)
# scottish_skier 2012-03-01 15:40
OT but looks almost definite now that we'll have a by-election on our hands in Falkirk.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont urges MP Eric Joyce to go

Mr Joyce in all sorts of bother it seems.
# Robert Louis 2012-03-01 16:16
To quote 'lamentable' Lamont from FMQ's today, directed towards The First Minister;

"you can tell a lot about a man from the company he keeps"

Sadly, the irony of her making such a comment today, seemed to pass her by......
# megsmaw 2012-03-01 18:11
I think most things pass her by...
# Triangular Ears 2012-03-01 16:21
Funny how Lamont only speaks out when it is alleged he's had a (presumably consensual and hence legal) relationship with a 17 year old, but had nothing to say about his alleged assaults (including headbutting) of three people.

I wonder if she'd have had more to say if it was three women he had been alleged to have assaulted in Westminster.
# Arbroath1320 2012-03-01 16:33
Aye S.S. it is certainly looking that way.
Boy I'm glad the pigeon finally made it all the way up from London. I thought Labour were going to have to send out a search party. I was seriously worried about this. If a Labour search party was indeed sent out where would A.S. get his "opposition" from at Thursday's FMQ's? :D

Now that millipede has agreed that the lamentable one can call for Eric Joyce to quit they have now run into another wee problem. The Labour M.P. for Bradford West has announced that he is standing down for health reasons, he wasn't in Stranger's bar the other week was he?

Labour sources say they will press for the by-election to be held quickly, in late March or April.

I guess this will mean Falkirk having their "proposed" by-election in June or July. I can't see them wanting to hold two by-elections at the same time. That is if Joyce agrees to stand down.
# Robert Louis 2012-03-01 16:36
Is Lamont not still hiding with Ian gray, in that Subway sandwich shop at Glasgow central. Can somebody in Glasgow take a wee look, and see if they are there.
# Arbroath1320 2012-03-01 16:41
I'm guessing it is the Subway sandwich shop that doubles up as her "advisor's" office. That is the only explanation for her dire level of questions at FMQ's.

When Elmer Fudd was asking questions I genuinely thought that Labour could not get anyone worse to ask their questions at FMQ's. How wrong could I have been. I don't think the word "dire" even begins to describe her level of ineptitude!
# Arbroath1320 2012-03-01 16:02
I think I've sussed out why the lamentable one has been marked up as missing recently. Could it be that she has been going round Pumpherston with some A4 posters and a wee pot of glue?:D
# mountaincadre 2012-03-01 16:55
Hey that's in the next village tae me, apart fae that though its nae very interesting:)
# BeltaneFire 2012-03-01 19:36
This is in my branch area.

Will have a wee look over the next few days.

I agree, it is unlikely to spur many in this constituency. People will decide their support on the economy.
# Arbroath1320 2012-03-01 19:49
Always glad to be of service. :)
# From The Suburbs 2012-03-01 17:02
As Newsnet recently revealed Scotland Says NO is run by former BNP activists.

As Johann Lamentable says "you can tell a lot about a man from the company he keeps"
and the BNP connection should be pointed out to the fellow anti independence factions.
# Arraniki 2012-03-01 17:18
Pace Arbroath1320 2012-03-01 16:41
I'm guessing it is the Subway sandwich shop that doubles up as her "advisor's" office. That is the only explanation for her dire level of questions at FMQ's.

And today was no exception.

She was so out of tune with the tone of today's proceedings (a pleasing surprise was a more measured performance by Ruth Davidson) that it was painfully embarrassing to watch.
Wonder what the Hungarian ambassador thought?
# Arbroath1320 2012-03-01 19:53
I agree Arran. I too was pleasantly surprised by wee Ruthie's performance.

I think the Hungarian ambassador must have come to the conclusion that, I think, we have all come to. The lamentable one is not actually part of the FMQ session, she is just part of the warm up act!
# tilly 2012-03-01 17:54
After several weeks of avoiding BwB I looked at his Holyrood thingy. For a so-called senior political journalist at the BBC this article is absolutely dire. Brian Taylor has lost the plot. He’s bored and it shows with his increasingly hackneyed writings.

What I’d give to have Rab McNeil writing a weekly Holyrood sketch again.
# snowthistle 2012-03-01 19:42
I too miss Rab McNeil but I think Newsnet's Paul Kavanagh and his Dug make very able substitutes. Maybe he could do an occasional sketch on FMQs
# peter,aberdeenshire 2012-03-01 19:30
I was asked in another thread how the BBC responded to my complaint about the interrogation on Nicola Sturgeon, well here it is:
"Thank you for your e-mail.

While I appreciate your interest in BBC Radio Scotland I understand you have concerns with the presenter of Good Morning Scotland, Gary Robertson and his interview with Nicola Sturgeon on the 16th February.

Gary certainly has no intention of being rude or interrupting people when they are responding to him. Gary merely wishes to get the best out of the interview and the interviewee.

I'm sure you're aware that many people and politicians in particular, are very adept at evading questions and following their own agenda when replying. It’s part of Gary's role to ensure that they are reminded, when appropriate, of the original question or pressed on points that are of particular public interest.

Gary's job is to ask the questions likely to be in the minds of informed listeners and to seek answers. This can lead to forceful and persistent questioning but, in our experience, politicians expect their views to be scrutinised and they respond with corresponding firmness. Those being interviewed can sometimes significantly influence the style and outcome of the interview by their willingness to respond, their wish to avoid certain subjects and so on. The aim isn't to generate hostility, but to put important questions with the proper combination of firmness and civility.

While courtesy should always be observed, it's worth noting that politicians are no less professional in handling questions than Gary is in posing them. The task of informing the public sometimes demands a degree of persistence, which would be out of place in ordinary social conversation.

May I also add that there was no complaint from Nicola Sturgeon about her interview with Gary that morning.

I realise you may continue to feel differently, but I hope my response goes some way to explain our view and the thought that goes behind such matters."

Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Details of the BBC complaints process are available online at

Kind Regards

Mark Roberts

BBC Complaints
# BeltaneFire 2012-03-01 19:39
Nevertheless, we are watching and listening carefully, and cannot agree with Mr Robert's opinion.
# peter,aberdeenshire 2012-03-01 19:55
I look forward to a Labour politician receiving the same but wont hold my breath!!!

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