MacAskill set to face Lockerbie FBI chief
KENNY MacAskill is to come face to face with the FBI director who offered support to victims of the Lockerbie bombings in the aftermath of the attack.
The justice secretary, who has come under increasing pressure in the US over his decision to free Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds, and Kathryn Turman are both guest speakers at an international conference organised by Victim Support Scotland.
Ms Turman will give a talk on 'Bridging the gap: Can victim assistance increase reporting?' on the final day of the conference, 7 October.
Victim Support Scotland said it was not known at this stage whether Ms Turman will make reference to the release of Megrahi, the only man ever convicted of the explosion on the Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988, which killed 259 people on board and 11 on the ground.
Mr MacAskill will give the opening address on 5 October, the first day of the conference.
The Scottish Government said he has no formal plans to meet with Ms Turman.
She was instrumental in ensuring funding was available to families of the Lockerbie victims on both sides of the Atlantic who wanted to see Megrahi's 2000 trial in the Netherlands.
• Director who dedicated her life to supporting victims of crime
Jean Berkley, from Northumberland, who lost her son Alistair, 29, in the Lockerbie bombing, and is co-ordinator of the UK Families Flight 103 group, was among those who went to see it.
She said: "It seems to me that she has possibly been delegated to express how relatives on the whole feel - that he should not have been released."
Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said last month that it was "unjustifiable" that the Lockerbie bomber remained free a full year after his release, while Senate officials looking into his release were due to meet Scottish Government officials today.
Victim Support Scotland has a satisfaction rating of more than 90 per cent and its chief executive David McKenna recently became president of Victim Support Europe. It was recently recognised as the best support group for victims in Europe and has become a model for similar organisations around the world.
It has organised the conference in the hope of sharing best practice in supporting victims. Other speakers include Dr Marc Groenhuijsen, a professor of criminal law, criminal procedure and victimology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, Kathryn Stone, chief executive of VOICE UK, a national charity supporting vulnerable people who have experienced crime or abuse, and Viviane Reding, the first EU Commissioner for justice, fundamental Rights and citizenship.
David Sinclair, spokesman for Victim Support Scotland, said: "We are delighted that an international figure, such as Kathryn Turman, is participating in our first international conference.We are confident that her knowledge and expertise will prove invaluable."
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "There are no plans for a formal meeting between Mr MacAskill and Ms Turman."
The FBI declined to comment.
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