BP's difficulties in the USA following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico have led to a revival of American questions about the release of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber.
The Herald for 15 July 2010 reports that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has agreed to look into the concerns raised by four Democrat Senators that Megrahi's release from Greenock Prison in August 2009 was part of a deal between the UK and Libya to facilitate BP oil exploration in Libya. It is the case that BP's position in Libya was arranged in 2007 and that part of the arrangement was a prisoner transfer agreement between the UK and Libya in which Megrahi's name appeared as a potential transferee. One of the agitated Senators is quoted as saying:
"If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it just might be a corrupt deal between BP, the British Government and Libya."
The Senator's logic is not immediately apparent from this quotation. The concerns he and his colleagues express seem anyway to ignore the facts that (1) Megrahi was released, not under the prisoner transfer agreement, but the rules of Scots law on compassionate release of sick prisoners; and (2) the release was made by the Scottish Government, which was not a party to the 2007 UK-Libya deal and indeed objected to it at the time.
There is also American concern about Megrahi's survival, now far longer than the three months which is the rule of thumb life expectancy for prisoners compassionately released on the basis that they are terminally ill. However the Herald for 14 July carried a fairly detailed story saying that Megrahi was now receiving only palliative care for his cancer, chemotherapy having been given up, and that he might be carried off if he caught so much as a cold.
Postscript 17/7/10: there will be a Senate hearing on the issues on 29 July.