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A former Scottish minister alleges in a new book that the UK Government was desperate enough for Libyan oil to have sought to trade a convicted Lockerbie bomber for it.
According to former Scottish minister Kenny MacAskill, when he freed the convicted Lockerbie bomber, it was because then UK Justice Secretary Jack Straw had told him that a Libyan oil contract was the trade-off.
The alternative would have meant giant British Petroleum (BP) Plc. losing out to an American competitor. And according to the Australian, at stake was some British industry access to multi-billion-dollar oilfields and hundreds of millions in defense contracts.
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It was a “Faustian pact with Gadaffi,” MacAskill notes in his new book, The Lockerbie Bombing, which is due to be released officially on 26 May.
He also notes that the Scottish government was hoping to get an oil deal as well through the release of bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi.
Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence official convicted and imprisoned for life in 2001 for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing in which 270 people were killed when a Pan Am flight was blown up, was controversially released in 2009 and died three years later.
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Former Justice Secretary MacAskill alleges in his book that Straw had warned him that a mega oil deal with Libya would never see the light of day if Megrahi was not released, following former British prime minister Tony Blair’s 2007 talks with then-Libyan leader Muamar Gaddafi.
Straw has challenged this book’s account, calling it a “highly embroidered version of what happened.”
MacAskill’s account is somewhat tainted by the fact that the Scottish government has always denied that they attempted to deal over the release of Megrahi and to get in on an oil deal themselves, while the book definitively suggests otherwise.
By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com