BP’s role in capping and paying for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill should be separated from the decision to release Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron said, at joint press conference with President Barack Obama.
He further emphasised that Mr. Megrahi’s release was a decision made by the Scottish government when Labour was in power in the U.K. and although it was “a decision which I wholly disagree with... [it] was taken in an appropriate way.”
Mr. Cameron also underscored his reluctance to hold any further investigations into Mr. Megrahi’s release, saying, “I'm not currently minded that we need to have a U.K.-based inquiry on this -- partly for this reason: I don't need an inquiry to tell me what was a bad decision. It was a bad decision."
He added that what made it an even worse decision was the fact that “Megrahi is still free, at liberty, in Libya, rather than serving the prison sentence in Scotland, as he should be doing.”
President Obama, who adopted a softer approach than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a few days ago, simply said, “I think all of us here in the United States were surprised, disappointed, and angry about the release of the Lockerbie bomber... We’ve got a British Prime Minister who shares our anger over the decision, who also objects to how it played out.”
Earlier this week Ms. Clinton, reacting to pressure from a group of Senators demanding a British review of the case, had clearly said that she would press the U.K. government to hold such a review. However Mr. Obama stopped short of reiterating that demand, saying, “We should have all the facts; they should be laid out there. And I have confidence that Prime Minister Cameron’s government will be cooperative in making sure that the facts are there.”
He added that once the facts had all come out, he expected that “we're going to be back to where we are right now, which it was a decision that should not have been made.”
At the joint briefing Mr. Cameron was nevertheless firm in insisting that BP did not play a role in influencing the Scottish government to release Mr. Megrahi. He said, “I haven’t seen anything to suggest that the Scottish government were in any way swayed by BP. They were swayed by their considerations about the need to release him on compassionate grounds – grounds that I think were completely wrong.”
He added that Mr. Megrahi was “the biggest mass murderer in British history and there was no business in letting him out of prison.”