William Hague condemns Megrahi release

The appearance of the convicted Lockerbie bomber on Libyan television has confirmed that a "great mistake" was made in releasing him from jail, Foreign Secretary William Hague said today.







Mr Hague said Abdelbaset al-Megrahi's release from a Scottish prison almost two years ago on compassionate grounds was "absolutely the wrong thing to do".



In footage seen by the BBC last night, a television presenter introduced Megrahi at what appeared to be a pro-government rally, and said his conviction was the result of a "conspiracy".



Megrahi served nearly eight years of a 27-year sentence after being convicted of killing 270 people in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 four days before Christmas in 1988.



He returned to Libya in August 2009 after being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. The Scottish Government accepted advice that he had about three months to live.



At a press conference in central London, Mr Hague said the footage demonstrated that this advice was "pretty much worthless".



He said: "I think the appearance of Mr al-Megrahi on our television screens is a further reminder that a great mistake was made when he was released.



"The Prime Minister and I, when we were in opposition, both strongly disagreed with that position by Scottish ministers.



"We disagreed with what has subsequently been revealed about the facilitation by the previous Labour government at Westminster of moves towards the release of al-Megrahi."



He added: "This was absolutely the wrong thing to do. It shows the medical advice it was based on was pretty much worthless and I think many people, particularly the families of those killed at Lockerbie, I think their anger and outrage at this release will be further intensified by what we have seen.



"So it has always been our view this was a mistake and this simply confirms that."



Of the 270 victims of the disaster, 189 were American. Eleven residents of Lockerbie, in Dumfries and Galloway, also died after the plane crashed down on their homes.









A Scottish Government spokesman said they were satisfied that Holyrood's Justice Committee has "examined all relevant aspects" of Megrahi's release.



However, the same committee will shortly decide whether to call for a public inquiry into his conviction.



Committee convener Christine Grahame has said it is time for "a clean, clear look at the role of Scottish justice" because of the number of "conspiracy theories" surrounding the conviction.



The issue was referred back to Holyrood thanks to a long-running Justice For Megrahi campaign, led by Dr Jim Swire whose daughter Flora died in the bombing.



The campaign supported the decision to release Megrahi and wants an independent inquiry into his conviction. This call has been rejected by the Scottish Government.



A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Al Megrahi is dying of terminal prostate cancer and was released on compassionate grounds based on the recommendations of the Parole Board, the prison governor and the medical report of the Scottish Prison Service's most senior health professional.



"The decisions to reject the prisoner transfer application and grant compassionate release were taken by the Justice Secretary according to the precepts of Scots law. Our sole interest was taking a justice decision based on Scots law without fear or favour, which was exactly what was done.



"This material is all in the public domain, including the medical report, and it all vindicates the Scottish Government's position. Indeed, it is clear that only the Scottish Government played with a straight bat on this matter, while the UK Government said one thing in public and another in private.



"The Scottish Parliament Justice Committee examined all relevant aspects of this issue (Megrahi's release) and concluded that the decision was taken in good faith.



The spokesman continued: "Instead of criticising a senior health professional, Mr Hague should understand that the medical advice to the Justice Secretary came from Dr Andrew Fraser, director of health and care of the Scottish Prison Service.



"Dr Fraser is a professional of impeccable integrity and he concluded that his clinical assessment was that a three-month prognosis was a reasonable estimate, drawing on the work of a range of specialists and other Scottish health service professionals involved in Al Megrahi's care from when he was first diagnosed with cancer in 2008.



"Given the importance of this case, it was appropriate that the most senior health professional in the SPS was responsible for providing the medical report. With the exception of this point, ie the most senior SPS health professional providing the report, this is exactly the same process that has been followed in the more than 60 cases considered under the relevant legislation passed in 1993."









Professor Roger Kirby, a leading prostate surgeon and founder of The Prostate Centre, said: "It was always foolhardy to put a three-month prognosis on his survival, because advances in treatment, such as new chemotherapy and immunotherapy techniques that he is likely to be receiving, could keep him alive for a while yet, maybe even several more years.



"What used to be a hopeless situation for patients at advanced stages of prostate cancer is now more favourable. The silver lining to this story is that other patients with similarly advanced disease should not give up hope and should ask their doctor about the possibility of having these new treatments."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Manager - SAS - Data Warehouse - Banking

£350 - £365 per day: Orgtel: Manager, SAS, Data Warehouse, Banking, Bristol - ...

Web Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – Up to £43k

£35000 - £43000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Internal Project Manager - Business Analyst, Financial Services

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: One of the best known and most pr...

SQL DBA/Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer
 SQL, C#, VBA, Linux, SQL Se...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment