Friday, 28 August 2009





Former leader of the Liberal Democrats Charlie Kennedy MP has given his support to Kenny MacAskill's decision to grant the release of the terminally ill Lockerbie bomber on Compassionate grounds.

Mr Kennedy also stated that this should not be a political matter, but a question of Justice - further undermining the position of Scottish Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott and the response of Nick Clegg.

Mr Kennedy told his local newspaper - the Ross-shire Journal - that;

"Mr Al-Megrahi is dying, and the Justice Secretary was required to find a balance between justice and compassion in these circumstances. It was his judgement as Minister that compassion was appropriate. It is not surprising that some disagree very strongly given the scale of the atrocity committed, but I think the decision was probably the right one even if it was not necessarily taken in the right way.

"This is not a party political matter, and it should not really be an international political matter either. It is a question of justice, rightly taken by the Scottish Justice Secretary, and for which he has rightly been held to account by MSPs with a full range of opinions in the Scottish Parliament."

Charlie Kennedy is the latest senior Liberal Democrat to support the decision after Lord Steel and Lord Owen backed the move, as have several Lib Dem MSPs and a majority of Lib Dem voters also indicated their support for the decision.

Sir Menzies Campbell has also criticised the politicisation of the issue stating that "Labour is clearly facing two ways on this issue: wanting to enhance relations with Libya but at the same time determined to criticise the SNP for an American audience.”

SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands Rob Gibson said;

"Charlie Kennedy's open and honest response is a welcome contrast with that of the Lib Dem leadership in Scotland whose political opportunism on this issue appears to know no bounds.

"This decision would never please everyone and there will always be people who disagree but there is clear recognition that the decision was Kenny MacAskill's to make and that this should not be a matter for political point scoring.

"It is time Tavish Scott and his leadership colleagues considered the reaction of their more experienced predecessors and learnt some lessons.

"A majority of Lib Dems support the decision and an overwhelming number support Kenny MacAskill as Scotland's Justice secretary.

"The Scottish Parliament will debate the Megrahi decision, next week. The Lib Dems should use that opportunity to show they support the Scottish legal system and its principle of compassion, not seek to score political points."

More info on this fast paced story.

1. The Daily Mail / You Gov Poll of 1078 Scots adults between 24th and
26th August shows that amongst Lib Dem voters in a Westminster election
57% support Mr MacAskill's decision, as do 51% of Lib Dem voters in
Holyrood elections.

2. 39% of Labour voters and 30% of Conservative voters also support the

3. A majority of voters of all parties support Mr MacAskill remaining as
Justice Secretaty (51% Con, 61% Lab, 76% Lib Dem)

4. Lord Owen – former Liberal Democrat leader:"I am a humanitarian,” he
said. “Wherever you can you come down in the final analysis to looking at
the individual. Are they entitled to die at home or die in prison? If it
is humanely possible you should allow them to die at home

5. Lord Steel – former Presiding Officer: “I don’t necessarily think he
made the wrong decision, I mean it was quite clearly made on compassionate
grounds. It wasn’t made as part of a prisoner deal; it wasn’t made as part
of a trade agreement, and I think people should focus on that and I think
most opinion in Scotland therefore is in favour of the decision to release
him on compassionate grounds.”

6. John Farquhar Munro, MSP : I’m of the opinion that Mr MacAskill had no
other choice but the one he made. It was obvious from the doctors that
Megrahi is suffering with cancer and that Megrahi’s health was going down
every day and with that the correct thing happened and that MacAskill let
Megrahi go with the information he had.

7. Central Scotland Lib Dem MSP Hugh O'Donnell : "I thought the release of
Megrahi in the circumstances was the right decision." (Herald, 26/08/09)

8. Dr Christoper Mason, Leader of Liberal Democrats, Glasgow City Council
in a letter to the Herald (26/08/09) “I wish to state, as a Liberal
Democrat, that I think Kenny MacAskill's decision to release Abdelbaset
Ali Mohmed al Megrahi on licence was right."

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