US Senator ready to bring al-Megrahi inquiry to UK

A US Senate committee is ready to send members to the UK to question British witnesses on the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds, it emerged yesterday.

Senator Robert Menendez revealed the plan after former Justice Secretary Jack Straw, Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and First Minister Alex Salmond, turned down requests to attend a hearing of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee hearing in Washington.

Mr Salmond said he would give a visiting US senator "the courtesy" of a meeting, but there was "no way on earth" that Scottish ministers would formally give evidence to a committee hearing of a foreign legislature, even if it is held in the UK.

Mr Menendez has been one of the most vocal US politicians calling for an inquiry into the decision to free al-Megrahi, who returned to a hero's welcome in Libya last year and has long outlived the three months he was given to survive with terminal cancer when he left Greenock Prison in Scotland.