Well who would have guessed it? Just weeks ago I watched the Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill bristle with honesty and defiance when he said he had released the Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi purely and solely on compassionate grounds.
Nothing more, nothing less. Simple as that.
Ever since that statement, the plot has unravelled quicker than a John Grisham novel.
Now it has been revealed that MacAskill has a brother who is an energy-industry executive and who has worked at firms that have pitched for oil business in Libya. This fact was conveniently not disclosed by the Scottish authorities.
The Wall Street Journal reports how, “over the years, Allan MacAskill has worked for several companies that sought oil business in Libya.” But Allan denies ever talking about his employers’ Libyan oil proposals with his younger brother Kenny.
In another twist worthy of Grisham, Allan MacAskill used to work for BP which is rapidly becoming the central player in this on-going “oil for prisoner release” saga.
It has now transpired that BP lobbied the British Justice Secretary Jack Straw before he changed his mind over Britain’s prisoner transfer agreement with Libya.
According to the Times newspaper, Straw received two telephone calls from Sir Mark Allen, a former M16 agent, who was by then working for BP as a consultant, in late 2007. Months earlier BP had signed a $900 million oil exploration deal with Libya, and the oil giant feared its commercial interests would be undermined if Britain delayed the prisoner transfer agreement by which the Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi would be sent home.
At the weekend Straw admitted that the BP deal was crucial in getting him to change his mind to include Megrahi in any prisoner release scheme. This directly contradicts Gordon Brown’s insistence that there was “no conspiracy, no cover-up, no double dealing, no deal on oil, no attempt to instruct Scottish ministers, no private assurances.”
When asked if trade and BP were factors by the Telegraph, Straw replied: “Yes, it was a very big part of that. I’m unapologetic about that. Libya was a rogue state. We wanted to bring it back into the fold and trade is an essential part of it — and subsequently there was the BP deal.”
So now we know: oil was central to the decision to let the Lockerbie bomber go home. Three weeks ago we speculated that it might be a factor, but now we know.
We also know Gordon Brown lied…