Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence officer found guilty, by a Scottish court in 2000, of plotting the destruction of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988, killing over 200 people, was released by Scottish justice minister Kenny MacAskill on 'compassionate' grounds with 19 years remaining of his sentence, after three doctors decided he had terminal prostate cancer.
A nasty whiff of oil hovered over Whitehall as nosy hacks searched for an unholy deal which might threaten Britain's strategic alliance with Washington. American victims' families appeared on television screens shouting obscenities at UK officials, or in tears as they watched the man they believe has the blood of friends and relatives on his hands, boarding a charter flight home to Libya and freedom.
Scotland has, for centuries, had its own criminal justice system, independent from that of England and Wales. It was under the Scottish system that Mr Megrahi was tried and convicted.
But when Mr Brown broke a 10-day-long silence mumbling something to the effect that it was judgment of the Scottish government that freed Megrahi, no one believed a word, especially with the British government seemingly holding three positions on the Megrahi affair.
Jack Straw, who was foreign secretary at the time of negotiation with Libya when Colonel Muammar Gaddafi turned his back on terrorism, handing over the keys of his nuclear programme after watching Saddam Hussein's arrest by American forces, is now Britain's Secretary for Justice. He admitted to the Daily Telegraph newspaper that Mr Megrahi had played a 'part of the negotiations', which took into account long-term British interests including 'security and trade'.
The deal theory gained momentum when Lord Mandelson--First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills and the godfather of New Labourism--emphasised the wisdom of keeping Libya sweet for the sake of British interests. A few weeks earlier, Mandelson held talks, in Greece, with Self El Islam Gaddafi, who had neither an official position nor a mandate to negotiate on behalf of the Libyan people, his sole qualification being that he is 'the leader's son'.
Gaddafi Jr accompanied Mr Megrahi upon his release on a special Libyan African Airlines flight to a hero's welcome in Tripoli. Foreign secretary David Miliband--when cornered by the...