Labour’s Policy on Lockerbie and Megrahi – The Silence of Jim Murphy

The following is a transcription of an item on BBC Radio Scotland’s Newsweek Scotland on Saturday 4 June 2011. It is on the subject of the ongoing saga of the Lockerbie bombing, the subsequent release of the man imprisoned for carrying it out, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and the role of the Labour Party in London and Edinburgh especially concerning communication difficulties afflicting Jim Murphy MP.


Back in February we emailed the office of Jim Murphy MP. We’d just had the report by Sir Gus O’Donnell into our relationship with Libya. In it Sir Gus said the UK government had developed a policy of doing everything it could to facilitate any appeal by Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and to facilitate his release. This fact was relayed to every government department. That included first the Foreign Office where he was Europe Minister and then the Scotland Office where Mr Murphy became Secretary of State. We wanted to know why Mr Murphy had not made public this policy when the Labour leadership at Holyrood was outspoken in its criticism of the decision to release Megrahi. The two positions seemed to be at odds. We received no reply from Mr Murphy’s office. We sent a further email some weeks later which we know was received but still have had no answer. Well this week we asked the Labour leadership at Holyrood what they knew of UK policy while they opposed Megrahi’s release. They told us there was never any discussion between the UK government and the Scottish Labour leader. Iain Gray took his decision on his own after consultation with Scottish parliamentary colleagues to oppose Megrahi being sent back to Libya. That indicates that on a key issue of global concern, with a direct impact on foreign policy, not to mention the bereaved families, there was no was no dialogue between the leaders of Labour in Scotland. One wing, Westminster, secretly supported Megrahi’s release while the other, Holyrood, vehemently opposed it and made political capital out of it. You may remember the MSPs were recalled to parliament by the Opposition for an emergency session to force Kenny MacAskill to explain his decision. Iain Gray accused him of a deeply flawed decision that had damaged Scotland’s reputation from start to finish. The Minister had mishandled the whole affair he’d said. Meanwhile Mr Murphy said nothing.

Well I hope that’s cleared up any questions you might have had about Labour’s stance on Lockerbie.

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