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Great Britain: did our government agree to a “trade for terrorist plan”to secure a massive oil and gas deal for BP?

Readers send many links to news about the revolving door, rewards for failure and the political influence wielded by the corporate world – but all this has been repeatedly covered on this site and it is wearying to continue to print them – just more of the same.

But, today, has a new low been reached?

Even bearing in mind the biased source, this weariness is shattered by the claim of former justice minister Kenny MacAskill, that the UK government made Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi – sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001 for blowing up a Pan-Am airliner over Lockerbie in 1988 – eligible for return to his Libyan home under a “trade for terrorist plan” to try to secure a massive oil and gas deal for BP which was in doubt.

In a new book, Kenny MacAskill says Jack Straw, then UK justice secretary, shared the details in a “highly confidential” telephone call which casts new light on a controversy that has dogged Tony Blair since his 2007 “deal in the desert” with the Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddaffi.

blair gaddafi shake hands

That deal was to give British industry access to Libyan oil reserves worth up to £13bn and £350m of defence contracts and involved a prisoner transfer agreement. MacAskill claims Straw warned him that Gaddaffi was threatening to cancel the energy contact and award it to a US firm unless Megrahi was returned under the PTA, after learning the new SNP regime was trying to exempt him.

Within weeks of the UK government agreeing not to exempt Megrahi from the PTA, Gaddaffi ratified the BP deal with Libya’s national oil corporation.

A spokesman for BP said the company had no comment on the UK government’s actions or discussions.

MacAskill also admits his decision to free Megrahi was partly motivated by a fear of violent reprisals against Scots if the killer died in Scottish custody. Just a few weeks before the decision was made to free him, UK hostages taken prisoner in Iraq had been murdered and other Western nationals captured in the area were executed. The former Scottish minister writes: “There was hostility to the West and ordinary citizens were becoming targets. Most in North Africa or the wider Arab world neither knew of Scotland nor cared about it. The last thing I wanted was to have Scotland become a place that was demonised and its citizens targeted. I would not allow Scottish oil workers or others, wherever they might be, to face retribution as a consequence of my decision.”

Kenny MacAskill has also argued that a coalition involving Libyan, Syrian, Iranian and Palestinian terrorists were behind the Lockerbie bombing, in revenge for the downing of an Iran Air flight by a US naval ship in July 1988.

 

 

 

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