Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Gordon Brown wanted the Lockerbie bomber to die a free man


The logic really is quite simple: if the Prime Minister did not want Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi to die in prison, he must have wanted him to die a free man. In order for him to die a free man, he had to be permitted to leave prison and return home to Libya, even if Libya, with its thousands of tortured martyrs and ‘missing’ citizens be not quite as free as a Scottish prison.

The release of correspondence between the British Government and the Scottish Executive is illuminating to that appalling extent. If this be true, as it appears to be, then the British Prime Minister has lied to the United States of America.

As Cranmer has watched over the past few weeks in a far-off land depressing hours of Scottish denigration and British humiliation, he has been dismayed at the perception conveyed by foreign news outlets (including the BBC World Service) that the ‘Scottish Government’ made the decision and that the British Government were powerless to do anything about it. And calls have consequently been persistent from civilised and hitherto friendly nations to boycott anything made in Scotland (and, by unjust extension, the whole United Kingdom, for our devolved constitutional arrangements are much of a mystery to rest of the world). The UK has been reclassified a rogue state: Scotland has joined the axis of evil.

Justice may indeed be a devolved competence, but foreign policy is not. And surely the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary are not so witless as to believe that the release on compassionate grounds of a mass murderer of hundreds of British and American citizens would not do immense damage to the standing of the United Kingdom in the world, or in the United States at least.

Why should Mr al Megrahi have any expectation of compassion? Just how compassionate was he on 21st December 1988?

The civilised state does not bear the sword for nothing. And when it does not bear the sword at all, it possesses the means of retributive justice. And what ‘compassion’ does mass murder merit? To suffer terminal prostate cancer is tragic, and Cranmer is sorry that anyone should die of it. But why should illness be the cause of premature liberation? If Mr al Megrahi had been fined for a more minor misdemeanour, would he now be entitled to a partial refund? If he were to be kept in prison, would he be entitled to claim compensation for uncompassionate detention?

What is it in Gordon Brown’s moral compass and Presbyterian conscience which moves him to compassion in this instance? Why did he not want Myra Hindley and Ian Brady to die in prison? If either had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, would his Presbyterian conscience have wanted them to be freed on compassionate grounds while the mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers and friends of their victims looked on in disgust?

Do not the relations of the Lockerbie victims deserve compassion?

All prisoners have a terminal illness. It is called life, which is irrevocably infected with sin, the consequence of which is certain death. It is final, unavoidable and irreversible.

Mr al Megrahi is just 57, and may yet have more time on this earth than the received prognosis, for the course of cancer can be unpredictable. Yet there are quite a few prisoners in British jails who are older than he, fragile in health and who are guilty of far lesser crimes than mass murder.

Why should they not be released early on compassionate grounds, for they are surely going to die?

The quality of mercy is not strained.

At least where international trade is concerned.

Scotland’s Justice Minister, Kenny McAskill, observes: ‘Mr Al Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power. It is one that no court, in any jurisdiction, in any land, could revoke or overrule. It is terminal, final and irrevocable. He is going to die.’

But death is not the sentence. The sentence will follow the judgement. And that is decreed by the ‘higher power’, which should indeed be feared.

By Gordon Brown’s Presbyterian conscience as well.

29 Comments:

Blogger Gnostic said...

What amuses me is that all this seems to have come about because Libya is sat on a huge field of oil (which the Americans were trying to exploit back in the 50s). What on earth would our wind-power loving, Greenie hugging Government have to gain by kissing Libyan nether cheeks and releasing convicted mass murderers (always assuming the bloke was guilty in the first place)? Could it be they want to strike a deal to import cheaper dates and camel saddles?

2 September 2009 at 09:45  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Amongst all the obfuscation we can be absolutely sure of one thing - compassion was not the motivation for his release.

Can someone not be treated compassionately whilst incarcerated?

Justice and compassion are not mutually incompatible.

2 September 2009 at 09:48  
Blogger Jim Bartlet said...

Three things seems to trump everything else in the modern universe:

1. Oil
2. Wealth
3. Islam (where is the oil?)

I would say that compassion enters the equation in the form of maintaining the status quo for the future security of the above three wild cards. In consideration of these three things, I would say that Jack Straw was telling the truth, that all the compassion and love in the world went into securing his release.

You know I can't help myself Your Grace, and I know you are fresh off holiday, but I have to say it: These things are not going to change are they, simply by electing for Dave to be the dealer; the house rules will always favour the house?

2 September 2009 at 10:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why should they not be released early on compassionate grounds, for they are surely going to die?"

Your Grace, please don't give them ideas.

Brian, follower of Deornoth

2 September 2009 at 10:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why did he not want Myra Hindley and Ian Brady to die in prison?"

Have you written this correctly? They both DID die in prison.

2 September 2009 at 10:18  
Anonymous Knighthawk said...

After this shameful episode, any residual belief in a moral compass or the glimmer of a Presbyterian conscience must surely evaporate. They are masks of convenience behind which this PM masquerades as a decent sort of chap, while trampling the sensitivities of the bereaved, insulting our American friends, and courting an unpleasant regime for dubious advantage.

This affair is nothing short of a national disgrace.

2 September 2009 at 10:22  
Anonymous Andrew K said...

1) Libya, not Lybia

2) Ian Brady hasn't died in prison: he's still alive in a special hospital.

2 September 2009 at 11:02  
Blogger Arden Forester said...

Now we know why devolution came about. To let the part-time MP job-sharing with an MSP who happens to be PM spend more time dreaming up reasons to put all the blame on the "Scottish Government"!

2 September 2009 at 11:06  
Anonymous Jonny Mac said...

"The logic really is quite simple: if the Prime Minister did not want Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi to die in prison, he must have wanted him to die a free man."

I respectfully disagree. If Brown did not want Megrahi to die in prison, it does not follow that he wanted him to die a free man. His position, as I understand it, is that he did not want Megrahi to die in prison; he did not want Megrahi to die a free man; he did not have any wants relating to Megrahi at all.

Whether that is true is a different matter. I for one wouldn't trust Brown as far as I could throw him. But, for once, I think your logic is wrong.

2 September 2009 at 12:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there's a point being missed.

Perhaps Brown didn't want Megrahi to die in a British prison for fear of reprisals.

2 September 2009 at 12:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scruples will get thinner and thinner as all the world's various powers compete for resources.

It is impossible to deal with third world and unprincipled scum by not lying through your teeth. Say anything and do anything are the new rules of the game (not that new actually, but not as easy to disguise anymore).

History has shown that Britain has a sting like a scorpion, so I would say that the deal is done, but don't think you have the upper hand by any means; scorpions may be small creatures but they are deadly. I know that there are principles at stake here, but I do wish people would try and understand the bigger picture, don't be a simpleton all your life.

2 September 2009 at 13:05  
Anonymous wonderfulforhisage said...

Be fair, Gordon might be PM but this has Lord M.'s fingerprints all over it.

On a somewhat cynical note one has to admire Lord M.'s, guile, if it was his, in getting the SNP to apparently author the latest dodgy dossier.

2 September 2009 at 15:45  
Blogger Dr.D said...

Americans see this as a 15 billion pound deal for BP with Libya, bought and paid for with a mass murderer.

The special relation between Britain and the US seems to be at an end; it is certainly in tatters. There are those in government on both sides of the Atlantic that want to see it end, even though I think that many of the ordinary people do not (perhaps many of the ordinary people do wish it to end as well). Maintaining a relationship of this sort requires continuing effort from both sides, and when both sides begin to tear it down, it cannot last long. This is unfortunate because it has served us well in the past. It does not, however, serve the goals of our new, self-serving leaders.

2 September 2009 at 17:04  
Anonymous tory boys never grow up said...

But why should illness be the cause of premature liberation?

Perhaps to show compassion to relatives of the person with the terminal illness. To be honest such compassion is probably of little use to anyone with terminal illness. Would you like to watch your relatives die in prison even if they were guilty of heinous crimes? Al Megrahi did not show any compassion to the relatives of those he blew up - but I fail to see why this is a moral argument for denying compassion to his relatives.

2 September 2009 at 17:05  
Anonymous Old Grumpy said...

Your Grace - and, of course, welcome back.

It's a straight line computation to a dodgy deal here. Methinks they doth protest too much. The only annoying thing is that GB and Co seem to think we're all too dumb to notice. But, more likely, they don't care one way or the other what we think. Listening has never been one of the PM's strong suits, even after crushing election defeats. The "we must listen more" cliches normally last around a week before disappearing completely until the next defeat, at which time they are trotted out all over again, having failed to listen to anything at all in the interim.

I agree with a previous posting about the Dark Lord's hand in all this. There's probably got to be an economic payback somewhere, and, if it comes to deals, then Lord M's your man

Otherwise nothing makes sense. Two suggestions here:

1. It certainly doesn't make sense to let any old prisoner out of jail just because they're about to die.(or not, of course. Remember Ernest Saunders, the only man to make a miraculous recovery from Alzheimers after he'd been "let out to die"? I await a similar amazing recovery by Ronald Biggs in due course) Hard luck, of course, for the remaining 99.9% of prisoners in that same position. The guy has political clout with Gadaffi. So the deal may be a quid pro quo on oil.

2. It's certainly a possibility that Libya would have declared undeclared war on the UK had the man died in a UK jail. Being cowards at heart in anything to do with terrorists, especially foreign ones, and most especially muslim ones, GB and co would certainly roll over after the first email from Tripoli. So maybe that's it.

Either way, as one of your communicants has already suggested, whatever the reason, the one thing it is definitely NOT, is anything to do with compassion.

Neither GB nor Lord M would know the meaning of the word, anyway.

Old Grumpy

2 September 2009 at 17:08  
Anonymous Old Grumpy said...

Your Grace - an aferthought:

You know, it occurs to me that a previous commuicant may be correct, here, and that the real reason for all this is, indeed, actually to finally, once and for all, destroy the special relationship with the USA.

Lord M, as a fervent europhile, doubtless hates it, and must have known the consequences with America. And since the eu also hates it, regarding it as unfair competition, etc etc., what better way to give president Blair a few more brownie points than to take the credit for scuppering the special relationship?

Now that logic works for me.

Blame it all on the government's hidden agenda to appease the eu at any opportunity

After all, it doesn't matter any more about foreign policy, because when the forthcoming constitution - sorry, treaty - is enacted, we won't have any foreign policies to worry about anyway, because after that the UK will simply be a minor protectorate territory of no consequence, wholly subservient to the unelected, and unnacountable, iron fist of Brussels

(And that, folks, BTW, is exactly we anti-common market people all said back in 1974 would happen, and nobody believed it. Remember Grocer Heath's mantra about 'no loss of sovereignty' etc? Oh boy, that man really did know how to sell his country down the tube)

Old Grumpy.

2 September 2009 at 17:23  
Anonymous not a machine said...

I just keep hearing spin , waffle, lies and deciets .

Its jut not right is it !

Both Alex Salmond and Gordon Brown are looking up to there necks in it , How ironic 2 scotsmen supposedly standing for decent and upright goverment ,manage to endorse this .

2 September 2009 at 17:34  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Well he could jus bet innocent! Libya believes he is and I tend to agree with them. What the court saw as evidence had been planted and tampered with, potential witnesses had been gagged so that they could not testify and another has admitted committing perjury. It is hard to comprehend that just a couple of men could have ended up being tried for this enormous and complicated task of blowing up a plane. It is more like a team effort. Then Judge Taylor is accused of not wanting to examine certain other evidence that was available.
Megrahi signed away his right to a second appeal after all the stalling and indecision that has surrounded his case, I can’t help but feel he would have won which would have no doubt caused a lot of embarrassment and compensation to be paid out.

Indeed trade and the black stuff are good reasons to free Megrahi whom Libya wanted returned. Don’t we all need fuel for our cars and our country needs to trade to fund its ever increasing population? We cannot hold the moral high ground; it is survival of the strongest and fittest and always has been, so until we create our own bio fuel that can give us more independence from such countries we can’t really complain when our duplicitous leaders actually oil the wheels that will benefit our country.

We don’t seem to be doing much about creating alternative green energy except a few half hearted attempts at electric cars compared to a lot of European countries that have bus services and a major proportion of cars running on Ethanol and other bio fuels. We always seem to lag behind.

2 September 2009 at 18:03  
Anonymous jeffkramerak said...

Well, let’s face it…they let him go free through some secret favor or something…this is politics not Disneyland. “Compassion”, please!!! Give us smart folks a big break!!!

2 September 2009 at 19:13  
Anonymous Drainrat said...

Tory boys never grow up-

So you presumably think that Myra Hindley should have been released from prison on the grounds that her Mum was upset that her daughter had cancer?

One can imagine how this would have gone down with the parents of Hindley's child victims - or on second thoughts, maybe one can't - their anguish would have been indescribable, overwhelming and probably ruinous to their own health.

But according to the logic of your view, their feelings should have been subordinated to those of Hindley's mother.

Seems it's not only Tory boys who need to grow up.

2 September 2009 at 19:24  
Anonymous Philip Walker said...

If Megrahi is one of the culprits (if there is doubt then why hasn’t he been pardoned and the case reopened?), then a miscarriage of justice has occurred. An aspect of justice not popular with the lib-left is that criminals and wrongdoers should be punished – indeed shedding innocent blood should invite the death penalty. Releasing him chimes with the lib-left’s upside-down concept of justice that favours criminals and wrong-doers rather than victims and those who do what is right.

But it seems his release is not due to doubts about his conviction, rather due to economic interests. I believe the Government when they say there was no agreement in trade etc negotiations to release Megrahi. But it cannot be impossible that suitable messages were somehow conveyed to help our case in such negotiations (and that due process on compassionate release would be followed). Yes, love of money is a root of many kinds of evil – including injustice.

2 September 2009 at 19:39  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

Journalists keep referring to Mr Brown's Presbyterian conscience. Has any doctor of divinity diagnosed to see if it has been seared by a hot iron?

2 September 2009 at 22:10  
Blogger tory boys never grow up said...

Drainrat

The short answer to the question is yes - if the cancer was terminal. And if you bothered to check the facts this is actually what happened back in 2002 when Hindley was taken to hospital before she died - the only difference was that it was done rather more quietly.

2 September 2009 at 22:48  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Old Grumpy @ 17.23. I hadn't thought of it; but yes, that sounds about right to me. There's nothing the eussr wants more than to break up the English-speaking world and control it themselves! WWIII it is, and has been probably since WWII! And the socialist euro method is ever to denigrate us, and to set up scenarios for doing so.

Naturally they pretend not to understand that other monument to their mastery of Divide and Conquer techniques (devolution of the UK). We're too stupid to know they've done it - so no point in telling us...

On Your Grace's point about overseas marketing of British goods - funny you should mention that! British goods are difficult to come by anyway in the US - and part of that is due to eu controls and embargos. Via the internet, I've tried buying things to bring to the US(designer sheets, e.g.) - and couldn't, specifically because the eu forbids it.

In the grocery store I've almost forgotten what I want to buy! Some things like gravy mixes may have disappeared from the UK as well; and I know my favourite chocolate now comes from some euro hole instead of York: and now tastes like everything else (so no point bothering).

Other things like biscuits and pickles are hard to come by, or more highly priced than french or italian gubbins. Other things still, like clothing - come from China anyway!

Add to this the neu franco-german handshaking... well Deconstruction Accomplished.

btw I heard the Libyan had gone into one of their hospitals, a few days ago. I think Your Grace may be right - perhaps there's a hint of 'poetic' justice at work ...

2 September 2009 at 23:06  
Blogger Bryan said...

Interesting, this subtle diplomacy. "Compassion" for a convicted terrorist that looks for all the world to be a straight forward Trade deal. Is your government really this inept, or is the truth even scarier than this apparent case of Capitalism trampling Justice. One wonders.

Mrs. Clinton has made her expected strong statement of condemnation, and the world rolls on. It's not like there is going to be sanctions, or threatened military action. Maybe it is just an oil for terrorist deal. How pitiful.

2 September 2009 at 23:59  
Blogger Gerv said...

"Why should Mr al Megrahi have any expectation of compassion? Just how compassionate was he on 21st December 1988?"

Leaving aside the other arguments, this one is bogus, and I'm sad to see Christians using it. Choosing to be compassionate to those who are not compassionate in return is the heart of the gospel - it's what Christ did when he died on the cross. Arguing that one should never be compassionate to the incompassionate (on the grounds of their incompassion) is arguing against God's method of salvation.

You could argue that we should have not shown grace to Mr al Megrahi in this instance. But "he's not compassionate, so why should we be?" is not the knock-down argument many in the secular press take it to be.

Gerv

3 September 2009 at 09:18  
Anonymous Chris said...

Your Grace,

It is good to have your musings back on our computer screens. You have been much missed.

Unfortunately this piece lacks your usual deft touch, nuance and line of logical inquiry.

First of all let me say that I think Labour have acted appalingly during this whole debacle. The SNP, on the other hand, have made the correct decision for the correct reasons.

Before I explain, let me briefly contend with your introduction that Brown wanted Megrahi to die a free man. Brown said he didn't want Megrahi to die in a Scottish prison - this didn't preclude his death in a Libyan prison. Apart from that my defence of Labour ends.

The decision the SNP made was a devolved one based on law - Scottish law - not foreign affairs. Their legal advice was clear, and the exact position is outlined succinctly by Jonathan Mitchell QC here:
http://www.jonathanmitchell.info/2009/09/02/compassionate-release-in-scotland-the-actual-policy-and-the-law/

In particular note his correct conclusion that:

Thus, on the published facts of Megrahi’s case, had the Scottish Government refused to allow compassionate release in terms of a policy which had been applied by it and its Lib-Lab predecessors, and before them by Labour and Conservative Secretaries of State alike, it would have been open to legal challenge with excellent prospects of success. That’s the way the law works; it doesn’t suddenly cease to operate because the person claiming its benefits is criminal, or a foreigner, or because release is politically undesirable. Still less because of the improbable suggestion that Americans will boycott Scotland and all its works if Scots law is applied impartially and judicially.


The feversih press have implied that there was a link between Westminter's desire for Megrahi to be sent to Libya as part of PTA and Edinburgh's decision to release Megrahi on compassionate grounds. There is no evidence to suggest such a link. Besides, it seems unlikely that an SNP government would cave into London Labour demands - it is not built into their DNA! Moreover, it seems unlikely that there is any specific Scottish-Libyan dimension to the deals that Westminster have been involved in with Libya and specific Scots-Libyan relationship that Salmond would be desperate to preserve.

The SNP were not blameless in terms of the way in which their decision was announced. The patriotic rubbish that MacAskill couched his conclusions in was horrific (his appeal to a unique brand of Scottish mercy was as bizarre at it comes). More foolishly, his decision to visit Megrahi in prison risked conflating questions about guilt and innocence with the compassionate release and gave off the whiff of deal making. Nonetheless, the decision was legally sound, and anything else would have probably have ended up in a successful appeal.

Labour on the other hand have tried to have their cake (London Labour gets its better relationship with Libya and whatever commercial contracts it wants - having pushed for a PTA to include Megrahi) and eat it (Edinburgh Labour gets to attack an unpopular SNP decision). Their position is hypocritical, illogical and is the real issue for condemnation.

Not a decision which abided by the rule of law.

3 September 2009 at 09:30  
Anonymous Drainrat said...

Tory boys never grow up

Sorry for the delay in replying.

You've not answered my question. Hindley may have been transferred to hospital when she was dying, but she was still a prisoner. Indeed (if you'd bothered to check your facts) Jack Straw, the former Home Secretary, made it quite clear that she could never be released under any circumstances.

So my assumption about your view is still valid - you appear to believe that the wishes of the relatives of a terminally ill prisoner should take precedence over those of those of the victims.

4 September 2009 at 21:00  
Anonymous len said...

Two appointments every man must keep Death and Judgment.

There is a Higher Power to which every man will answer.

6 September 2009 at 21:12  

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