Letters Show Oil-Lockerbie Link

Leaked ministerial documents show the British government had decided it was "in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom" to release the Lockerbie bomber, the Times of London reports. The letters were sent two years ago by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, to Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish justice secretary, and show that Straw initially wanted to exclude the Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, from a prisoner-transfer agreement arranged with Libya. But Straw changed his position as Libya began using its multimillion-pound deal with British Petroleum as a bargaining chip. Libya had refused to ratify the deal for six months. “The wider negotiations with the Libyans are reaching a critical stage and, in view of the overwhelming interests for the United Kingdom, I have agreed that in this instance the [prisoner-transfer agreement] should be in the standard form and not mention any individual,” Straw wrote. Six weeks after the government reversed its position on the bomber, the BP deal went through. The son of Libya's leader, Saif Gaddafi, said it was "obvious" the two countries were talking about al-Megrahi during the negotiations. BP and Lord Mendelson maintain the deal had nothing to do with the bomber's release.