- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Your Thursday editorial “BP’s terrorist,” (Comment & Analysis) repeats the serious but unfounded allegation that BP secured a “deal” to release the Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, from prison in order to protect its oil interests in Libya.

As British Prime Minister David Cameron made clear during his recent visit to the United States, the new British government believes the Scottish government’s decision to release al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds was wrong. Mr. Cameron said: “He was convicted of the biggest mass murder in British history. In my view, that man should have died in jail.”

Yet however profoundly the British government disagrees with the decision, we must respect the independence of the process the Scottish government followed to reach its decision. That process was investigated extensively by the Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament, whose inquiry in February concluded the government had followed due process under Scottish law.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has been unequivocal on the allegation that BP had some role in influencing the Scottish decision. As he wrote to Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, last week: “The Scottish Government has never, at any point, received any representations from BP in relation to AI-Megrahi.”

The media has speculated that Libya somehow manipulated the medical evidence, but the Scottish government has said the medical advice on al-Megrahi’s case was compiled by the director of health and care in the Scottish Prison Service, drawing on medical expertise provided by two consultant oncologists, two consultant urologists and the primary care physician. Karol Sikora, quoted in your piece, played no role in this process, and his opinion, paid for by the Libyan authorities, had no part in the decision to grant compassionate release.

Mr. Cameron understands the revulsion and anger the decision to release al-Megrahi has caused in the United States. He shares it. That is why he has asked Britain’s most senior official to conduct a review of the documents the British government has on the issue.

However, the suggestion that the Scottish and British governments are somehow complicit in a cover-up is untrue and unfair. More important, it does no service to the memories of those murdered in the largest-ever terrorist attack on United Kingdom soil.

NIGEL SHEINWALD

British Ambassador

Washington