Lockerbie relative's doubts over Megrahi release

FEARS have been raised that Kenny MacAskill unduly influenced the course of criminal proceedings by delaying key decisions over the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

As Mr MacAskill faces MSPs today to answer questions about the release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, a Lockerbie relative said it was "unclear" whether the justice secretary acted responsibly.

In a submission to Holyrood's justice committee, Matt Berkley, who lost his brother in the bombing, highlighted delays he says put pressure on the bomber to drop his appeal.

These include a 43-day wait to contact the relatives after the transfer application was made and a three-week wait to respond to Megrahi's acceptance of Mr MacAskill's invitation for a meeting.

Mr Berkley also said it was not clear the Scottish Government had "provided accurate, fair and balanced information to the prisoner". He said Mr MacAskill appeared not to have told Megrahi the range of options he had in relation to the dropping of his appeal.

"Did the justice secretary take adequate care, through promptness of action and appropriate information to the appellant, to avoid influencing the court process?" asked Mr Berkley in his submission.

A spokesman for Mr MacAskill said:

"Megrahi and his legal team chose to abandon their appeal … their decision bore no relation to the release."