British PM Doesn’t Plan Full Inquiry of Lockerbie Bomber Release or Alleged BP Connection
The prime minister’s statement was delivered at the White House on Tuesday and is in contrast to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s request that the British government launch a probe into the matter.
Cameron, elected earlier this year, made his first visit to Washington, D.C., meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, the war in Afghanistan, the interconnected economies of both countries, and Iran’s nuclear ambitions, among other matters.
“Releasing the Lockerbie bomber, a mass murderer who killed 270 people, the largest act of terrorism ever committed in the United Kingdom, was completely wrong,” Cameron said during a joint press conference with Obama.
Cameron said his administration would review all of his government’s documents related to the Lockerbie case and release more information. He noted that he had roundly criticized the decision a year ago but that the Scottish government has autonomy in the case.
“I don’t need an inquiry to tell me that was a bad decision,” Cameron added.
Secretary Clinton has asked the British and Scottish governments to review a decision to release Abdel Baset al-Megrahi from his life prison term. Megrahi was convicted of 270 counts of murder, conspiracy to murder, and violating British-aviation legislation after PanAm flight 103 was destroyed at 31,000 feet, 38 minutes after departing Heathrow Airport in London bound for New York City.
The 259 people on board the plane were killed, along with 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland, who were killed when the plane crashed. (See Timeline)
Scottish authorities released Megrahi last summer “on compassionate grounds,” citing medical advice that his advanced prostate cancer gave him about three months to live. Almost a year later, he is still alive.
His release generated public attention this month when four U.S. senators from New York and New Jersey called on the administration to probe the affair. They also demanded that BP Global release to Congress all private and public communications relating to the episode after news reports surfaced that BP had lobbied for the terrorist’s release in order to secure an oil deal in Libya.
“The role of BP is something for BP to explain themselves,” Cameron said on Tuesday. “I haven’t seen anything to suggest that the Scots were swayed by BP.”
Asked about the apparent disagreement between Cameron and Clinton, Obama was diplomatic.
“We welcome any additional information that will give us insight as to why this decision was made,” said Obama. “The key thing to understand here is that we have a British prime minister who shares our anger over the decision. I fully support Prime Minister Cameron’s efforts to get a better understanding of it, to clarify it.”