Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Over to you Hillary

UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband (DM) on BBC R4 Today this morning; interviewer is Evan Davis (ED) --

DM: Thirdly, was there a public or private dissonance between what we were saying about the administration of justice in Britain to the Libyans or the Americans or to the Scots? No. And that is very, very important. Nothing we said or did was putting pressure; nothing was second-guessing. We’ve been attacked for not second-guessing.

ED: But the question is not about pressure; the question is simply one about expressing a view, and the British Government had said that it didn’t have a view; and actually, these papers, well, they seem to concede that the British Government did have a view that had been expressed to the Libyans.

DM: We were absolutely clear that we were not going to stand in the way of an application by the Libyans under the Prisoner Transfer Agreement. The Prisoner Transfer Agreement couldn’t require his transfer. As it happens, in the end he wasn’t eligible for the Prisoner Transfer Agreement, and so that’s why it was, in the end the Scottish government made a decision under different grounds; under 1993 legislation. So I think it’s very, very important to be clear that at no stage were we willing to say that we could offer the kind of deal that is being alleged, because it was not in our gift to release Megrahi.

ED: But you can see why the words “double dealing” might come up in this situation: that the Libyans have had a meeting with a Foreign Office minister; they’ve taken away – perfectly reasonably, it seems – the view that the British Government has a view on it; and yet the British Government has refused to express that view to the nation, or to the Americans, or to anyone else, primarily because it would be inconvenient to express a view on it because it may not be a terribly popular view.

DM: No, it’s not that…

Some related letters have been published in which the diplomatic discussions with the Americans about al-Megrahi have been redacted. So isn't time for the US State Department and/or Justice Department to tell us what the British told them about their preferences for where al-Megrahi should spend his final days?

UPDATE: Newsweek's Mark Hosenball says that there is some evidence that the US sent a signal that they were not fixated on where al-Megrahi spent his final days. All the more reason to show what the actual advice was!

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