As David Cameron lined up with Barak Obama to condemn Scotland over Lockerbie, his ministers were having a cosy meeting with the senior Libyan politician Abdel-Fatah Yunis al-Obeidi, Gaddafi's secretary general for public security. Obeidi respresents the same Libyan government, remember, who must have instructed Megrahi to put the bomb on PanAm Flight 103
Ian Black the Guardian's Middle East editor writes: "Obeidi's busy UK schedule underlines the warmth and intensity of bilateral relations since Tony Blair met Gaddafi in 2004. Obeidi has been to the Farnborough air show, met the Scotland Yard counter-terrorism command and Gerald Howarth, the minister for international security strategy, held talks in the Lords, and paid a courtesy call on Prince Andrew, who promotes British business in Libya. Illegal immigration is an area of growing cooperation."
You can read Black's full story here in The Guardian
It rather backs up the points I made on The Jeremy Vine show today summarised as follows.
1 Cameron's position is untenable and hypocritical. If he truly deplores the release of a man he believes is guilty of mass murder, why is his government still on good terms with Col Gaddafi, who instructed that same man to kill? Megrahi was a tool, a Libyan agent. He didn't get up one morning and take a notion to bomb the airliner. That means Gaddafi is a murderer too. He denies involvement but paid compensation to victims. So will David Cameron cut off all relations with Tripoli and prevent British business raking in the cash? Don't hold your breath. Blair may have done the deal in the desert, Cameron will do nothing to damage it.
2. That White House press conference demonstrates why Scotland needs independence Since foreign affairs are not devolved to Edinburgh, David Cameron officially speaks for us. On this occasion he trashed us in front of the world. Where were we? We should have had a right to reply at least. After all, Scottish troops are fighting and dying in Afghanistan, as they did in Iraq, to support America. Would Obama and Cameron have condemned a friendly, independent sovereign nation like this?
3. Whisperings about oil deals...all lead back to the British government, not Scotland. We don't even have a say on our OWN oil reserves never mind Libya's. The UK government was desperate for Megrahi to be released. Blair wanted to bring Gaddafi back into the fold for geo-political reasons and boost business at the same time. That is why Westminster tried to put pressure on Scotland to agree to a prisoner transfer. We resisted that. The hypocrisy of David Miliband, who now condemns the Scots when he was pushing for release at the time when he was Foreign Secretary, is breath-taking.
4. For the record I said at the time I didn't think Kenny MacAskill should have released Megrahi because I anticipated that the UK government would use it to damage the SNP. I feared Scotland would take the flak from a totally duplicitous opposition. However, that is political thinking. MacAskill was trying to do the right thing as justice minister after a request for compassionate release. It would have been wrong for him, as a government minister, to allow party interests to play a part in his decision making. It should be noted that his decision was supported by much of Scottish civic society including the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church. It was certainly a humane decision and that's why it was supported by Nelson Mandela as well.
Add: If you want to listen to Jeremy Vine, our Lockerbie discussion is first on the show after the Bob Marley record, which I must say is well worth hearing again.