DAVID CAMERON insisted yesterday that BP should not be blamed for the “completely wrong” decision to release the Lockerbie bomber.
Speaking at a White House press conference alongside Barack Obama, the Prime Minister said the Scottish Government was responsible for freeing Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.
He also warned the US against excessive punishment of BP over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill — insisting it was in no one’s interests to undermine the firm’s future.
The comments came as both leaders tried to defuse renewed tensions over the row, amid claims that BP lobbied for Megrahi’s release as part of an oil deal with Libya.
Cameron said he had seen no evidence that the Scottish Government had been “swayed” by lobbying from BP, but the company would have to explain any representations it had made.
He said he and President Obama had been in “violent agreement” that freeing the terminally-ill bomber on compassionate grounds last August had been wrong.
“Releasing the Lockerbie bomber, a mass murderer, was completely wrong,” Cameron said. “He showed his victims no compassion. They were not allowed to die in their beds at home.”
But he added: “That was not a decision taken by BP, it was a decision taken by the Scottish Government.”
Cameron said BP was in no doubt about its obligations in relation to the spill.
“It is BP’s role to cap the leak, to clean up the mess, and to pay appropriate compensation,” he said.
“Equally, BP is an important company to both the British and American economies. Thousands of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic depend on it.
“So it is in the interests of both our countries, as we agreed, that it remains a strong and stable company in the future... Let’s not confuse the oil spill with the Lockerbie bomber.”
Cameron said he did not believe an inquiry was needed into the release of Megrahi, but he reiterated his promise to disclose any Government documents that shed light on negotiations with Libya.
President Obama also seemed keen to play down the renewed row, telling the press conference: “I think all of us were surprised, disappointed and angry about the release of al-Megrahi.
“We welcome any additional information that will give us insight into how the decision was made.”
He said: “The key thing here is we have got a British Prime Minister here who shares our anger, and also objects to how it played out.
“The bottom line is that we all disagreed with it. It was a bad decision.”
Emerging to face the media after several hours of talks, the two men were keen to emphasise the strength of the “special relationship” between the US and Britain.
They also joked about their families, with Cameron saying he had seen the Obama children’s bedrooms during a tour of the house and was impressed by how tidy they were.
He said he would be trying to encourage the same good habits in his own offspring.
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