Sound and fury renewed
As seemed possible at the time of our last post on this subject back in August, the group of US Senators pursuing an inquiry into the Megrahi release sent representatives to Scotland in pursuit of evidence in late September 2010. Whatever light the trip may have cast, there was certainly little sweetness in its immediate aftermath.
The representatives met Scottish Government officials on 16 September and also the Labour Party spokesperson Richard Baker MSP. The officials' initial claim that their meeting had been "amicable" and a "helpful exchange" seemed to be contradicted later when the lead US Senator, Robert Menendez, was reported as saying that the initial prognosis that Megrahi had three months to live was made, not by a cancer specialist, but by the prison GP. There were also claims of evidence that Megrahi had started chemotherapy in July 2009 (i.e. pre-release) that was not merely palliative but designed to prolong his life, thus exposing as a "lie" the Scottish Government position that his illness had become untreatable. The representative reportedly said that "they (the officials) contradicted themselves repeatedly and made illogical statements/conclusions that were almost laughable if the circumstances weren't so serious."
The Scottish Government response was pointed:
"The senator's staffer has got both these issues entirely wrong, and the senate committee is misinformed.
As has been stated many times, and was said several times at the meeting between Scottish Government officials and the staffer earlier this month, the advice to the justice secretary came from Dr Andrew Fraser, director of health and care of the Scottish Prison Service, and the prognosis was his.
It was Dr Fraser's responsibility to prepare the medical report for Mr MacAskill, and Dr Fraser who concluded that his clinical assessment was that a three-month prognosis was a reasonable estimate, drawing on the work of a range of specialists and other Scottish health service professionals involved in Megrahi's care from when he was first diagnosed with cancer in 2008."