LONDON — Britain’s previous government did “all it could’’ to help Libya win the release of the only man convicted of the Pan Am bombing over Scotland in 1988, though it insisted the decision was made entirely by Scottish officials, Britain’s senior civil servant said yesterday,
However, Sir Gus O’Donnell, the head of the Cabinet Office, also said he found no evidence that the central government had put any pressure on Scottish authorities to grant the release.
Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the only man convicted in the terrorist attack, was granted a compassionate release from a Scottish prison in August 2009 on the grounds that he was suffering from prostate cancer and would die soon. He is still alive.
The bombing of the US-bound Pan Am jumbo jet killed 270 people, most of them Americans, and Megrahi’s release has been criticized by members of the US Congress.
Prime Minister David Cameron, leader of the British coalition government that took power in May, asked O’Donnell to conduct the review. Cameron has strongly criticized Megrahi’s release.
Cameron’s office said he discussed the issue with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday in Munich and that they had “strongly agreed’’ the prisoner release was a mistake.