Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
British Govt standing firm on Lockerbie deal -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

The British Government has again denied that any deal was done with Libya over the release of
convicted Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. It has been alleged that al-Megrahi's release
was linked to British business deals with libya.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: The British Government has again denied that any deal was done with Libya
over the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

It's been alleged that al-Megrahi's release was linked to British business deals with Libya. Libyan
documents that have been made public show that one member of the British delegation did tell the
Libyans that the British Government didn't want al-Megrahi to die in prison.

But British Prime Minister Gordon Brown insists there was no double dealing.

Europe correspondent Philip Williams reports.

PHILIP WILLIAMS, REPORTER: Who knew what and when? The debate refuses to cool over whether the UK
Government was complicit in the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

The conservative Opposition is accusing the Prime Minister Gordon Brown of diplomatic deceit.

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH OPPOSITION LEADER: The British Government stands accused, and indeed the
Prime Minister stands accused of double dealing. On the one hand saying to the Americans they
wanted al-Megrahi to die in prison but on the other hand saying privately to the Libyans that they
wanted him released. Now we've got to get to the bottom of this.

GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: There was no conspiracy, no cover-up, no double dealing, no
deal on oil, no attempt to instruct Scottish ministers, no private assurances by me to Colonel
Gaddafi. We were absolutely clear throughout with the Libyans and everyone else that this was a
decision for the Scottish Government.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: In an attempt to defuse the row, both the Scottish and British governments have
released the paper trail leading up to his release. In the minutes of a meeting between Scottish
and Libyan delegations, Libya's Europe minister is quoted as saying: the British Foreign Office
Minister Bill Rammell had stated neither the Prime Minister nor the Foreign Secretary would want Mr
Megrahi to pass away in prison.

Mr Rammell doesn't dispute that but says he told the Libyans he couldn't intervene in the case.

BILL RAMMELL, BRITISH FOREIGN OFFICE MINISTER: I have not this with the Prime Minister either
before the event or after. I was responding to a specific concern that the Libyans put to me that
they didn't wish al-Megrahi to die in prison.

In response to that, in a conversation with my counterpart, I made clear that we were not actively
seeking his death in prison. But we emphatically - and this is what I said to him at the time - we
emphatically would not intervene and it was a matter for Scottish ministers.

ALEX SALMOND, SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER: Bill Rammell never spoke to me about it but that is an
accurate record because everything - we published everything we have. We've done it without fear or
favour. We've published the lot. That is an accurate record of a meeting that took place.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: But suspicions persist that there was least at least a nod and a wink between the
British and Scottish governments, that the UK saw long-term commercial and diplomatic leverage if
the Lockerbie bomber was sent home.

Al-Megrahi is now in hospital. He is not expected to live long. But the longevity of Libya's
Colonel Gaddafi is still very much open-ended. He survived pariah status to be warmly embraced by
two British leaders. First Tony Blair five years ago and more recently welcomed by Gordon Brown.

Now he's been at the centre of celebrations marking his 40 years in power, missing all Western
leaders who were boycotting events over the Lockerbie release. The terrible attack still has
political and diplomatic resonance 21 years later.

Philip Williams, Lateline.