Lockerbie release harms 'special relationship'

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The release of the Lockerbie bomber is casting a long shadow over relations between Britain and the United States, where senior figures in the Obama Administration have expressed dismay over the Government’s failure to take a stand.

The controversy over the decision to let Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi go home to Libya was further stirred after Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, said in a Libyan television interview yesterday that his release was linked to negotiations over oil and gas contracts.

Downing Street insisted that the decision — condemned by the White House yesterday as “outrageous and disgusting” — was a matter solely for the SNP-led Scottish government. However, a senior US official told The Times last night: “We believe it was the wrong decision — I don’t know if the UK thinks so or not. It has been extraordinarily silent on this issue.”

The official suggested that it was disingenuous for the Government to claim that responsibility lay only with the devolved Scottish government because the release of al-Megrahi had wider foreign policy implications.

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