Monday, 1 February 2010

Those who have nothing to hide ...

Jack Straw has refused a request to release details of conversations he had with a BP lobbyist:
The Secretary of State for Justice has turned down a Freedom of Information request from a Commons select committee to reveal whether, during two phone calls with the lobbyist, he agreed to include Abdelbaset al-Megrahi in Britain's Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA) with Libya.

Mr Straw has admitted having two conversations with Sir Mark Allen, a former MI6 agent turned BP consultant, in the autumn of 2007. But he has insisted that "at no stage was any undertaking promised, hinted, given to the Libyans, that in return for an overall bilateral arrangement Mr Megrahi would be released".

At the time of the conversations, the Government's position was to exclude Megrahi from the PTA deal. But that December, Mr Straw announced a change of policy, writing to the Scottish Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill, to say he could not guarantee Megrahi would be excluded from the deal – effectively paving the way for his release.

Megrahi, convicted for the 1988 bombing which killed 270, was released last August on compassionate grounds – rather than under the PTA – by the Scottish Executive.

But Mr Straw's discussions with BP are still contentious because MPs believe ministers gave a smooth path for the release in the interests of trade with the Libyan government.

In early 2007, BP signed a $900m (£562m) oil exploration deal with Libya but the energy giant was concerned that the ongoing stalemate over the PTA would damage the contract. (1)
Come on, Jack. Spill the beans. Apply the same principle that you've forced on the people of Britain for the last eight years, in the name of security and the over-riding public interest - those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear.

Sorry, what's that you say? One rule for us and the other for you?
1 - "Straw fights release of transcripts of calls over Libyan oil deal," by Jane Merrick. Published in the Independent, 31st of january, 2010. (

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