Blair pressed on prisoner exchange deal

THERE were renewed calls today for Prime Minister Tony Blair to explain fully a prisoner exchange deal with the Libyans, amid claims that the Lockerbie bomber was central to the agreement.

Number 10 has denied claims that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, serving life in a Scottish jail for the 1988 outrage, is included in the memorandum struck last month.

First Minister Alex Salmond said he wanted an answer "forthwith" to a letter he had written protesting to the Prime Minister about the deal.

Mr Salmond suggested the arrangement could lead to the transfer of Megrahi and complained Scotland was not consulted in advance.

Sources close to the agreement made on May 29 were today reported to have said the Lockerbie bomber was the "whole point" of the talks in Libya.

The source said: "Megrahi was the whole point of the talks as far as the Libyans are concerned.

"It was made perfectly clear to the British officials involved in the talks that the whole aim for them was to get Megrahi back."

Responding to the claim, a spokesman for the First Minister said: "We believe that the Prime Minister must answer the substantive questions from the First Minister in very earliest course."

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