Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Tuesday 1 September 2009

My absolutely final word on the al-Megrahi release saga

There has been a lot of fall-out from the release of the release of al-Megrahi back to Libya and that fall-out may not be over as yet. However, there is an article in today's Times newspaper by the leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, that lays out pretty clearly what happened; three brief extracts:

"Decisions concerning the fate of criminals, not least those responsible for mass murder, often provoke widespread public anger. But the outrage at this one has crossed continents and damaged our relationship with our closest ally, America. It has been a fiasco.

"At its heart lies a series of failure of judgment. The first failure was the decision by Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Secretary, to release al-Megrahi on “compassionate grounds”. Due process found al-Megrahi guilty, a verdict upheld on appeal. The Libyan Government accepted responsibility for the bombing and paid compensation to the Lockerbie families. Any doubts about the safety of al-Megrahi’s conviction should have been tested by the second appeal, which he instead withdrew. That is why I said that compassionate release was completely inappropriate. We are dealing here with someone convicted of one of the biggest mass murders in British history. Al-Megrahi’s victims were not allowed the luxury of “dying at home”. What on earth was Mr MacAskill thinking of when he made this utterly bizarre decision?"

"The second misjudgment was Gordon Brown’s failure to speak up clearly and promptly. On a matter fraught with such emotion, and with the potential to damage Britain’s reputation abroad, a decisive lead from the Prime Minister was required."

And finally:
"The Government needs to understand that it cannot reject this as an overhyped summer story and dismiss these suspicions out of hand. This issue goes to the core of how this Government operates. Unless these suspicions are properly put to rest, the al-Megrahi case will mark another damning chapter in the sorry history of Labour’s years in power."

- the whole article merits close study I think. I don't pretend to agree with everything that David Cameron has done so far, or that he seems to be planning should he become Prime Minister fairly soon (increasingly likely, on present trends, I'd say), but I have to say that those, both on the left of politics and on the gerontocrat-wing of the Conservative party itself, who declare Cameron to be 'light-weight' or 'shallow' seem to me to be way off-beam. That man is no light-weight and I think his clear-sightedness in this case makes that abundantly clear.

Almost done. Two articles in the Spectator's Coffee House are useful to read, too (here and here) - it is clear that Labour's connection to what happened is not as 'hands off' as they would have us believe. My earlier articles on the release are here, here and here.

Of course it's his interpretation, which I happen to agree with. A lot of people, particularly supporters of one of the political parties in Scotland (the governing Party here which made the decision to release al-Megrahi), disagree strongly with that view. Whatever we may think of the decision by Mr MacAskill, it was made in good faith I have no doubt (if in my view for misguided reasons), but it is done and cannot be reversed. We must now live with the consequences, whatever they are.

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