AN INFLUENTIAL US Senator wanted to call former prime minister Tony Blair to testify before Congress about the release of the Lockerbie bomber, newly released e-mails reveal.
The messages, written when Hillary Clinton was US Secretary of State, show that Senator Robert Menendez planned to question Mr Blair on Capitol Hill.
But other members of the committee “discouraged” him from doing so and expressed concern that the hearings would “devolve into a circus”.
Former Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill, who freed Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi from Greenock jail, and former UK justice secretary Jack Straw were invited to attend – and both refused.
Their failure to attend “undermined” the hearing, leading State Department officials to attack the “lack of co-operation by UK and Scots” in private e-mails.
The e-mails were among 7,000 messages released by Mrs Clinton from her time in office between 2009 and 2013 after a Freedom of Information request.
More than 30,000 e-mails, which she stored on her private server, are gradually being made public. They cover everything from US politics to a row about Israel at the Edinburgh Fringe.
The e-mails also give an insight into the fallout from the decision to free Megrahi in 2009 eight years into his life sentence for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people, including 189 Americans, when it crashed in Lockerbie.
Megrahi was freed in August 2009 by Mr MacAskill after doctors said he would be dead from cancer within three months. Megrahi lived for another three years.
US senators were outraged by the decision and in July 2010 the foreign relations committee said it would stage a hearing to find out what happened.
An e-mail from top State Department adviser Miguel Rodriguez said that among the witnesses Mr Menendez wanted to call was Mr Blair. He wrote: “I asked who they think Menendez might want to call as a witness. They said Tony Blair. I laughed. They didn’t. Am told the Committee is discouraging Menendez from even making the request. We’ll see.”
In the end Mr Blair did not give evidence.
Mr Straw and Mr MacAskill refused to attend, with Mr MacAskill saying he was “accountable to Scotland” and had “no information” on any deals between his government and Libya over oil. In the US, their decision was met with shock.
An e-mail dated 27 July from Mr Rodriguez read: “Reason being given to families and others is lack of co-operation by UK and Scots in providing a witness undermined the hearing.”
CLINTON’S VIEW OF UK SCENE
In a private e-mail to Hillary Clinton, David Miliband admitted losing the 2010 Labour leadership election was “tough”, especially as his brother won.
In a separate message to an aide, she said Mr Miliband’s ties to Tony Blair were to blame for his loss, and said it was “clearly more about Tony than David or Ed”. Her top adviser, Sidney Blumenthal, also made withering assessments of British politicians. He dismissed David Cameron as a “pretender” and Nick Clegg as a “Tony Blair stand-in love object”. Mr Blumenthal said a Cameron Cabinet would be “weak and flimsy” and called William Hague “disingenuous”.