Labour lied over Gaddafi… who warned of a holy war if Megrahi died in Scotland
The startling extent to which Labour misled the world over the controversial release of the Lockerbie bomber is exposed today in top-secret documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday.
In public, senior Ministers from the last Labour Government and the Scottish First Minister have repeatedly insisted that terminally ill Abdelbaset Al Megrahi was freed on compassionate grounds in a decision taken by Scottish Ministers alone.
But the confidential papers show that Westminster buckled under pressure from Colonel Gaddafi, who threatened to ignite a ‘holy war’ if Megrahi died in his Scottish cell.
And despite repeated denials, the Labour Government worked frantically behind the scenes to appease Gaddafi’s ‘unpredictable nature’.
As recently as last month, a spokesman for Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond was insisting: ‘The decision was taken on the basis of Scots law and was not influenced by economic, political or diplomatic factors.’
Equally damaging, the documents also suggest that as well as sharing intelligence-gathering techniques, Britain gave Libya hundreds of suggested questions for Islamic militants detained in Libya in 2004.
This will inevitably cause widespread dismay because of the regime’s systematic use of torture during interrogation.
Education: A letter from Downing Street reveals how Tony Blair was ‘stimulated’ by Said Gaddafi’s PHD (left), while a second document reveals Tony Blair’s New Year wishes to Gaddafi and his family (right)
The revelations come in documents – some marked ‘UK secret: UK/Libya Eyes Only’ – found strewn on the floor of the British Ambassador’s abandoned residence in Tripoli.
Many of the papers demonstrate the warmth of the relationship between Britain and Libya and, in particular, the extraordinarily close links between the Blair Government and the Gaddafi regime.
The notes show how:
Tony Blair helped Colonel Gaddafi’s playboy son Saif with his ‘dodgy’ PhD thesis while he was Prime Minister.
British Special Forces were offered to train the Khamis Brigade, Gaddafi’s most vicious military unit.
MI6 was apparently willing to trace phone numbers for Libyan intelligence.
Gordon Brown wrote warmly to Gaddafi in 2007 expressing the hope that the dictator would be able to meet Prince Andrew when he visited Tripoli.
MI6’s budget (£150 million in 2002) was readily disclosed to Libyan officials, along with details of how Britain’s Downing Street emergency committee Cobra operates.
Britain’s intelligence services forged close links with Gaddafi’s brutal security units.
Megrahi was released two years ago and transferred back to Libya, where he received a hero’s welcome from Gaddafi. Last week, it emerged he is still alive – although very ill – after he was tracked down to his home in Tripoli.
A series of documents marked ‘confidential’ and ‘restricted’ reveal that Gaddafi threatened Britain with ‘dire consequences’ if Megrahi died in Scotland.
Diplomats feared the harassment – ‘or worse’ – of British nationals; the cancellation of lucrative contracts with firms such as BP, Shell and BG; and the end of defence deals and counter-terrorism co-operation.