Britain’s new leader rebuffs US on Lockerbie case
WASHINGTON — Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain said yesterday that he would not order a fresh investigation into why Scotland set free a convicted bomber or whether
President Obama stood by his new peer but said “all the facts’’ must come out.
In declaring his position — to potentially make public more information from an earlier investigation of the man’s release, but not start a new probe — Cameron politely but roundly rebuffed the US government in his first White House visit.
Obama sought a diplomatic tone in response, saying the United States would “welcome any additional information,’’ and made clear he wanted it. Beyond the lingering anger, the case swirls anew with interest because of its possible links to BP, the company facing a huge fallout in the United States for the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.
“I think all of us here in the United States were surprised, disappointed, and angry about the release of the Lockerbie bomber,’’ Obama said in a short news conference dominated by the topic. Yet he added, “The key thing to understand here is that we’ve got a British prime minister who shares our anger over the decision.’’
At issue is Abdel Baset al-Megrahi of Libya, who was convicted in the 1988 bombing of a jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people, most of them Americans. The Scottish government released the cancer-stricken man last year, citing compassionate grounds.
Bringing the matter to the fore again are accusations that BP sought the release of the convicted bomber as part of efforts to seek access to Libyan oil fields; BP has acknowledged that it urged the British government to sign a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya, but says it never specified Megrahi’s case.
The British leader said he has not seen anything to suggest that the Scottish government was swayed by BP.