David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, and Barack Obama, the US President, are in "violent agreement" that last year's compassionate release of the convicted Lockerbie bomber by the Scottish Justice Secretary was a mistake.
The curious phrase – did Cameron and Obama perhaps have an arm wrestle in which neither was able to gain the advantage, or something even more serious? – was uttered by the Prime Minister during a joint press conference with the President after their summit meeting in Washington DC on 20 July 2010.
Mr Cameron has apparently committed to a review of UK Government papers relating to the UK-Libya deal in 2007 (for which BP admittedly lobbied) to be carried out by the UK Cabinet Secretary, while President Obama will not press for the full inquiry sought by four US Senators and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But since Mr Cameron apparently knows already that the Megrahi release was not BP's fault, the review seems most unlikely to offer new insights into the whole matter.
The conjunction of BP's unpopularity in the USA after the Deepwater Horizon oilspill, Cameron's Washington visit, the approach of mid-term elections to the US Senate in November while Obama's approval ratings slump, and of course Megrahi's continued survival, has led to this early revival of the story (Scots Law News had thought it would probably hot up nearer the anniversary of the release). The projected inquiry on 29 July by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee should now keep it going a while longer.
Words from the Scottish play come irresistibly to mind:
It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.