Brown faces Lockerbie backlash

Gordon Brown faced renewed criticism for his refusal to discuss the release of the only convicted Lockerbie bomber after he maintained his silence on the issue despite releasing a statement praising the England cricket team’s Ashes victory.



Downing Street said that the release of Abdulbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi on compassionate grounds last week had always been one for the Scottish administration. However, it emerged that the Prime Minister would be writing to the England team following their win against Australia.

Both the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, and the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, spoke out last week after the public anger over the hero’s welcome given to Megrahi on his return to Tripoli. President Obama and the head of the FBI have also condemned the release.

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, said that Mr Brown’s refusal to comment on the decision to release Megrahi had become “absurd and damaging”. He also revealed that he disagreed with the Libyan’s release. “Although the decision to release Megrahi was a Scottish one for which Gordon Brown was not personally responsible, the fallout puts the UK at the centre of an international storm,” he said.

Pressure has also been on Mr Brown to break his silence after revelations that he discussed Megrahi’s case with the Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi, when they met last month. He has also been asked to explain what advice was given to Holyrood on Megrahi’s application for release on compassionate grounds and a separate request to be transferred to a Libyan prison.

An official spokesman for the Prime Minister said that releasing a statement discussing Megrahi’s release was a “uniquely sensitive and difficult decision”. He added: “Clearly the Prime Minister recognises this was a very difficult decision, and was clearly an extremely sensitive one, and there will be very strong feelings from the families of those people who were victims of this terrorist attack.”

However, the spokesman did confirm that Mr Brown did not believe the decision to release Megrahi would give encouragement to terrorists. “This was a decision taken by the Scottish Justice Secretary in accordance with the laws of Scotland,” he said. “I don’t see that anyone can argue that this gives succour.”

A senior Tory MP has called for Parliament to be recalled to discuss the decision to free the Libyan. In an open letter to the Prime Minister, John Redwood, the MP for Wokingham, said that MPs had to be given the chance to debate the issue. “When you first took the highest political office in the UK you stated that you wished to restore the UK Parliament to a more central role in our democratic life,” he wrote. “You cannot be serious unless you today recall the UK Parliament, to meet later this week.

“We also want to know more about the UK’s relationships with Libya and the USA,” he added. He also said MPs needed an “urgent debate on the state of the economy”.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable