Political Promise

Cameron releases Lockerbie papers but refuses fresh inquiry

In Dan Owens on July 22, 2010 at 4:52 pm

By Daniel Owens

David Cameron yesterday agreed that British intelligence would release all files on the release of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, after a day of meetings with President Barack Obama and senior US politicians.

Cameron made the announcement at a joint White House press conference after the traditional ‘fireside chat’ in the Oval Office with Obama, however, Cameron remained fixed on his position that there should be no new public inquiry over the release. There seems little need for a Senate committee inquiry after all considering that the Scottish parliament has already held one and that he “doesn’t need an inquiry to tell me what [he] already knows, which is that it was a bad decision”.

Cameron, a staunch opponent to the release of al-Megrahi, reiterated that he was in ‘violent agreement’ with Obama of the errors of releasing someone who is a convicted mass murderer of 270 people. At the press conference, during which Obama and Cameron addressed each other on a first name basis, Obama commented that “All of us were surprised, disappointed and angered by the release of the Lockerbie bomber.”

However, throughout the day, Cameron defended the already struggling BP, believing that they should not face a fresh inquiry whilst still trying to solve the Gulf oil crisis. Whilst hoping to discuss the issues of Afghanistan, he ended up repeatedly having to defend BP’s off shore drilling and its lobbying with the Libyan government. The PM commented that he was determined that BP should pay compensation, but only for errors for which it is liable. Cleverly, Cameron refused to make this a US-UK issue and highlighted that 39% of BPs shareholders are in the US, and 40% in the UK – making it essentially balanced.

During his meeting, David Cameron presented the Obama family with very contemporary gifts; a spray-painted canvas by Ben Eine, some Miller Harris scented candles for Michelle and a pair of Hunter boots for each of the children. The gifts, a sharp contrast to those sent by Gordon Brown (who sent an ornamental pen holder made from the timbers of the anti-slavery ship HMS Gannet), show that earnest Gordon is out, and hip, cool and hoody hugging David is now in.

After the White House, Cameron met with former Republican presidential candidate John McCain and with 4 US senators who are lobbying for a Senate inquiry into Megrahi’s release. However, despite meeting with Cameron, which he hoped would quell the situation, the senators repeated calls for a fresh inquiry after his departure.

In closing, Cameron commented on the release of Megrahi, saying: “I said it was wrong a year ago when I was leader of the opposition; I say it again now. He was convicted of the biggest mass murder in British history, in my view that man should have died in jail. Full stop. End of. Nothing to add to that. You don’t release people who have been convicted of a crime that serious.”

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