Socialist Worker

Lockerbie: Britain’s backroom oil deals over innocent man

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2167

The release of Abdelbaset Ali al‑Megrahi, the man wrongly convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, has created a storm of controversy over why he was let out and who ordered his release.

Meanwhile, the multi­national BP is searching for oil off the coast of Libya.

The company believes it could create £15 billion in new revenue in a 20,000-mile area in the west of the country.

The cost of this was a £450 million deal with the Libyan government. Tony Blair took high-profile trips to Libya in 2004 and 2007.

During his 2007 visit, BP signed its exploration deal with Libya’s National Oil Corporation, with Blair looking on.

Part of the negotiations included the moving of Megrahi via a prisoner transfer agreement under which prisoners could serve out sentences in their home countries.

Jack Straw, the justice secretary, revealed this decision in a letter to his Scottish counterpart. He cited “wider negotiations” and the “overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom”.

Britain imported nearly £1 billion of petroleum from Libya in 2008 – 66 percent more than the previous year. The export of goods from Britain to Libya rose by nearly 50 percent in the first half of this year. That is the context for the current row.

The Scottish and Westminster governments are arguing over documents about who sanctioned the release.

Both were involved in Megrahi dropping his appeal as a condition of his release.

Miscarriages of justice have a tendency to drip scandal into the political system. And there is a huge amount of evidence to support Megrahi’s innocence.

That evidence would have emerged at his appeal – and that is why the Libyan was blackmailed into dropping the case.

The rumbling crisis in Westminster and Scotland is caused by two things – imperial power games and the simple fact that Megrahi is innocent.

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Tue 1 Sep 2009, 19:16 BST
Issue No. 2167
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