Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi Danny Lawson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

UK govt did 'all it could' to release Lockerbie bomber: report

Britain’s previous Labour government did “all it could” to help facilitate the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, according to a new report.

A REPORT INTO the release of the Lockerbie bomber has concluded that Britain’s recent Labour government did “all it could” to facilitate his release.

The country’s most senior civil servant, Sir Gus O’Donnell, said that there was an “underlying desire” to see Megrahi released before he died, the BBC reports. In his report, however, he also says that the final decision regarding Megrahi’s release was the responsibility of Scottish ministers.

O’Donnell says that there was no evidence of pressure being put on the Holyrood government by Westminster, AFP reports.

Some 270 people died when Pan Am Flight 103 blew up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988; victims included 43 British citizens, 190 American citizens and 19 victims of other nationalities.

Megrahi was the only person to be convicted over the devastating attack. He was sentenced to life imprisonment but was released to Libya in 2009 by Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill on compassionate grounds, as he was suffering from terminal prostate cancer.

Doctors had said at the time that Megrahi would be unlikely to live more than three months – however he is still alive 18 months later.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has welcomed the report, saying that UK ministers had changed their position due to commercial considerations – including lobbying by BP. The Scottish government has published a number of documents in relation to the case.

However, former prime minister Gordon Brown also welcomed the findings – saying that the report made it clear that the decision to release Megrahi was made by the Scottish government.