Kenny MacAskill to make statement on al-Megrahi allegations

Kenny MacAskill: set to address al-Megrahi allegations. Picture: Neil Hanna
Kenny MacAskill: set to address al-Megrahi allegations. Picture: Neil Hanna
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JUSTICE secretary Kenny MacAskill is to make a statement to Holyrood in the wake of claims he advised the Lockerbie bomber to drop his appeal to smooth the way for his release.

The allegations – strongly denied by the Scottish Government – are contained in a new book about the bomber which was published on Monday.

In the wake of the allegations, Mr MacAskill, who controversially freed Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi in 2009 on compassionate grounds, faced calls from opposition politicians to make a statement to Holyrood.

He will now do that, and answer questions from MSPs on the matter, this afternoon.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government has categorically denied that it “had any involvement of any kind in Mr al-Megrahi dropping his appeal”.

The spokesman insisted it had been “entirely a matter for Mr al-Megrahi and his legal team”.

He also branded the book, Megrahi: You Are My Jury, by researcher and TV producer John Ashton, as “third-hand hearsay”.

Mr MacAskill decided to free the Libyan – the only person convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988, which killed 270 people – on compassionate grounds.

Megrahi, who has terminal cancer, remains alive today despite being said to have three months to live when released.

Shortly before being freed, he had dropped his second appeal against his conviction.

Mr Ashton’s book claims Mr MacAskill met a delegation of Libyan officials ten days before announcing his decision, including foreign minister Abdulati al-Obedi.

In the book, Megrahi said: “Obedi said that towards the end of the meeting, MacAskill had asked to speak to him in private.

“He stated that MacAskill gave him to understand that it would be easier to grant compassionate release if I dropped my appeal.”

Mr Ashton said on Monday: “Mr Megrahi makes clear in the book that it was made clear to him by the Libyan official who met with Mr MacAskill that it would help his case for compassionate release if he dropped his appeal.”