MacAskill: '˜Scotland took the rap for Lockerbie aftermath'
SCOTLAND was 'set up to take the rap' for the global fall-out of the Lockerbie bombing because the country lacks the 'might and power' of the international elites it was up against, former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has said.
Mr MacAskill says he is “contemptuous” of the US and UK authorities which left Scotland with an international “black spot” over the trial and release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the only man convicted of the 1988 bombing.
And he warned that investigators will never get to the bottom of the Lockerbie case, which is likely to endure alongside other conspiracy theories like the Kennedy assassination and 9/11.
“We took the rap for Lockerbie – but there was huge international deals going on,” MacAskill told the Edinburgh international book festival yesterday.
“They were commercial and they were security and we were just flotsam and jetsam – the same as the bags that fell upon the poor town of Lockerbie.”
Lockerbie is the UK’s worst terrorist incident, which saw Pan Am flight 103 explode over the town killing 270 people on board and on the ground.
Mr MacAskill, who stood down as an MSP in the Holyrood election earlier this year, became the focus of international attention when he took the controversial decision to release Megrahi in 2009 when he was diagnosed as having terminal cancer and just three months to live.
He went on to live another three years, prompting widespread anger among the families of the Lockerbie victims, particularly in the US.
Mr MacAskill yesterday launched a furious attack on the “hypocrisy” of key players in the affair, such as the UK government which did oil deals with Libya in exchange for an agreement to return Megrahi.
“The Scottish Government and indeed Scotland got a black spot – not simply the bomb that landed and devastated the town of Lockerbie. We got dumped with this and told get on with it.
“Meanwhile the British, the Americans were conniving. Others were all over there.”
He added that the relationship between Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was “something else”.
“This was a global event which happened to impact upon Scotland, but in which the Lockerbie bombing was a sideshow in many ways.”
He added; “It suited people to be able to put the blame on somebody and to say it was Scotland. Because Obama, Clinton, [former minister Jack] Straw all came out and said “don’t agree with it – absolutely appalling.” And they had been conniving and working for it. We actually delivered what they wanted which was to let Megrahi go.”
The UK government wanted to ease the way for lucrative oil deals between Libya and British oil giant BP, which prompted the notorious prisoner transfer agreement between the UK and Libya. This could have also seen Megrahi returned to his homeland, but was not granted by Mr MacAskill. The former justice secretary told a sell-out audience yesterday that the Lockerbie bombing was carried out by a “coalition of the willing” which took in the Libyan state, but was also likely to have included Palestinian terrorist group the PFLP-GC (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command).
“You can’t take the Lockerbie bombing in isolation,” he said.
“The trial doesn’t happen in isolation in international affairs where Scottish judges and the Scottish police service are entirely oblivious to what is going on when the UK foreign office, the American intelligence services are engaged – all of this was ongoing and there was downright hypocrisy.”
In 2003, Gaddafi accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and paid compensation to the families of the victims, although he maintained that he had never given the order for the attack.
Mr MacAskill said: “This is going to run and run – this is up there with the grassy knoll and 9/11,” Mr MacAskill warned. I don’t know that we will ever get to the bottom of this. Equally I’m highly sceptical as to whether a Scottish inquiry could ever get to the bottom of this.”