Into the fire

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IN The Scotsman recently (Perspective, 22 January) Peter Jones begins his perceptive article, “We must tread carefully in west Africa. Everyone cheered when Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi’s foul regime was brought to an end by the Libyan uprising in October 2011.”

No Peter. Not everyone. Those who knew more than most, including three former British ambassadors and myself, most emphatically did not cheer.

In the autumn of 2011, spring 2012, I was phoned for my opinion by many journalists, not least those from The Scotsman. I expressed the view that Gaddafi’s ministers, especially Moussa Koussa, were able men tackling difficult problems, that they were respected by serious operators, such as the late Sir Dick ­Morris, former chairman of engineering company Brown & Root, and that the Colonel himself was far from a buffoon.

This was not what most journalists wanted from me, and my opinions were generally spiked. One journalist, not from The Scotsman, opined that because I had spent two-and-a-half hours with Gaddafi in his tent outside Sirte, I was in the position of one of Lenin’s “useful idiots”.

I am not a soothsayer. Of course, I did not foresee the terrible events in the Algerian desert. But what we did foresee was grief in one form or ­another. Out of a manageable frying pan, into a hugely dangerous fire.

Today’s ignorant and child-like front-benches would have had Macmillan and Wilson, Home and Callaghan shaking their wiser heads.

And, come to think of it, when is the Crown Office’s expectation of documents/evidence of the alleged guilt of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi over the Lockerbie bombing going to be fulfilled?

TAM DALYELL, leader March 2001 Inter-
Parliamentary Union 
delegation to Libya


West Lothian