Leading article: Compassion amidst suspicion

Share
Related Topics

Not for the first time the English political establishment has cause to be grateful for Scottish devolution. The Scottish justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill's, much heralded decision yesterday to release the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, on compassionate grounds, has given London the pleasure not just of a devolved Scottish government thrashing about in the deep end of international relations but also the perfect alibi to distance themselves from the resulting furore. "No good complaining to us about it," they can say (and no doubt have) to the US families of the victims and the White House which supports them. "It's nothing to do with us. Speak to Edinburgh."

Because it has been in England's interests to see this case buried by someone else, however, does not of itself mean that either the Scottish judiciary or its government have colluded in a plot to do so. The trouble with the Lockerbie case is that it has been overcast by the sense of the unresolved, the feeling that others were involved and the suspicion that, behind the conviction of one lone man, lies a story which has never been properly investigated – and may never be after this moment.

Certainly the withdrawal by Megrahi's lawyers of his appeal just as the decision to release him was being considered looks too neat to be entirely explained away by the need to clear the case from the books before he could be sent home. Scotland may not have benefited from a cessation of inquries. The families, who suspect that there is a great deal more to this case than meets the eye, hardly wanted it. But a British Government anxious to "move on" from the case and a Libya thus able to claim the man was innocent and his appeal never heard may well be breathing a sigh of relief.

We will probably never know the truth. But, stripped of the carapace of conspiracy that has attached itself to this case, at heart this is a simple judicial and human story. An incarcerated man, whatever he has done, is dying. The Scottish system allows – indeed encourages – the release of prisoners if within three months of their likely death. This is ultimately an act of compassion and the Scots should be congratulated for it.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, with her boyfriend, fellow vlogger Alfie Deyes  

If children are obese then blame food manufacturers, not Zoella

Jane Merrick
Amos Yee arrives with his father at the State courts in Singapore on March 31  

Singapore's arrest of a 16-year-old YouTuber is all you need to know about Lee Kuan Yew's legacy

Noah Sin
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat