BRITISH Foreign Secretary William Hague told the US there was “no evidence” to support claims the release of the Lockerbie bomber was linked to BP oil deals.
Hague wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton amid renewed questions in Washington over the Scottish Executive’s decision to return Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi to Libya last year.
A group of Democrat senators is demanding an inquiry into claims the oil giant lobbied for the release to smooth a deal and an influential senate committee is also to examine the case.
The fresh attention on BP — already battling the political fallout of the Gulf of Mexico spill — threatens to overshadow David Cameron’s first visit to Washington as Prime Minister tomorrow.
Mr Hague spoke at length about the issue with his counterpart, promising to “engage constructively” but reiterating that the British government considered the release “a mistake”.
In his letter — copied to foreign relations committee chair Senator John Kerry — he said: “There is no evidence that corroborates in any way the allegations of BP involvement in the Scottish Executive’s decision to release Megrahi on compassionate grounds in 2009 nor any suggestion that the Scottish Executive decided to release Megrahi in order to facilitate oil deals for BP.”
He expressed concern and regret at the continuing anguish that the release has caused the families of Megrahi’s victims.
“I would like to make clear that this administration believes that the release of Megrahi was a mistake. I said this myself in October 2009 and the prime minister also wrote to the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown to express his opposition to the release.”
An inquiry by the justice committee of the Scottish Parliament found the executive “followed due process under Scottish law”, he said, and “extensive documentation” relating to the release and the prisoner transfer agreement had already been put in the public domain.
Megrahi, the only man convicted of involvement in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which killed 270 people in 1988, was freed on compassionate grounds.
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