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A spokeswoman at the British Embassy in Washington told The Washington Times that the letter laying out the procedures for compassionate release, sent in October 2008 by senior Foreign Office official Bill Ramell, had been publicly released in October 2009. But it apparently drew little notice at the time.

She said officials of the current government, including Prime Minister David Cameron, had opposed the decision at the time, and that he had asked the head of the British Civil Service “to review papers held by the government to see if more needs to be published about the background to this decision to ensure the fullest possible explanation of the circumstances.”

Speaking, as is customary, on the condition of anonymity, the spokeswoman said the review was ongoing and would be concluded “as soon as possible.”