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MacAskill's brother embroiled in Lockerbie row

Scotland's Justice Secretary today faced fresh questions over his decision to free the Lockerbie bomber after it was revealed he had past family links to the oil industry.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Kenny MacAskill's brother Allan has a background in the oil industry.

The decision to free Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi on compassionate grounds proved fiercely controversial.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has insisted the decision was one for the Scottish Government alone, and that considerations like trade and oil deals played no part in it.

Today it was revealed, Mr MacAskill's brother worked for oil giant BP for 20 years before joining Talisman Energy and now works for SeaEnergy, an Aberdeen-based wind energy firm, the newspaper said.

Scots Tory leader Annabel Goldie said: "Time and time again new revelations are emerging about the release of Mr Al Megrahi.

"The SNP Government has consistently mishandled the whole issue and has been found wanting on the international stage.

"If any part of Mr Salmond's Government has any connections to Libyan businesses then they need to come clean."

And she said: "The Labour UK Government and the SNP Scottish Government need to be open and transparent once and for all and stop this constant drip, drip of information which only serves to undermine Scotland and the United Kingdom."

But a spokesman for Mr MacAskill said: "The Tory claims are ridiculous, confused and entirely without foundation.

"Mr MacAskill's brother is director of an offshore wind development company in Scotland, based in Aberdeen."

The spokesman went on: "As the Justice Secretary has made clear, he made his decisions to reject prisoner transfer and grant compassionate release based on due process according to Scots law - having considered the recommendations from the Scottish Prison Service, the prison governor and the parole board, and the medical evidence, all of which supported compassionate release."

Mr MacAskill's brother is business development director for SeaEnergy Renewables.

His biography on the company website said: "Allan MacAskill has a track record of technical and commercial innovation in both the oil and gas and renewables industries.

"In the last 10 years he has been involved with a number of mature reservoir redevelopments with proven expertise in project management, field development, reservoir management, production operations and renewable energy."

The Wall Street Journal said no connection had been revealed between Mr MacAskill and commercial factors that may have led to the release of Megrahi.

Allan MacAskill told the newspaper that neither he nor his firm were in any way connected to the decision.

A spokeswoman for SeaEnergy said Allan MacAskill joined that firm 18 months ago.

He had previously worked for Talisman, where he had been involved in the Beatrice offshore wind project.

"Allan has been exclusively focused on renewable energy since 2005," she said.

"I can confirm he has never had a conversation with Kenny MacAskill about Al Megrahi.

"He works for an offshore renewables company which is doing well."

Today, representatives of victims of IRA terrorism held their first meeting with officials from the Foreign Office and Downing Street since Prime Minister Gordon Brown's weekend offer of support in their battle for compensation from Libya.

The victims' lawyers, Jason McCue and Lord Brennan QC, met officials including one of Mr Brown's private secretaries for the 45-minute meeting at 10 Downing Street.

People injured by IRA bombs and families of those killed are seeking compensation from Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi because of his supply of weapons including Semtex explosives to the terrorist group.

They hope to travel to Libya within a fortnight to press their claim. Mr Brown has promised that they will be accompanied by a diplomat from the UK Embassy in Tripoli and they will also have the support of a dedicated Foreign Office team.

Mr Brown's spokesman characterised this morning's meeting as "positive", adding: "It focused on the support the Foreign Office will be providing to the families, agreeing objectives and setting out the next steps on co-ordination."

Following the Downing Street meeting, Mr McCue said: "The meeting was extremely positive and productive. There was a clear and genuine commitment from all at the meeting to represent the interests of the victims to maximise a positive outcome for them.

"Tasks were delegated and Government specialists were given strategic roles to assist and support the victims' team that would be carrying out the negotiations. Planning and preparation was put in motion to ensure matters progressed swiftly and effectively.

"The team along with its Government counterparts will work to pursue justice for those who suffered these human tragedies to ensure that Anglo-Libyan relations can then have a truly firm and positive foundation for the future."