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Monday, 9 July, 2001, 17:20 GMT 18:20 UK
Dentist flies out to Lockerbie bomber
Police at Camp Zeist
Al Megrahi is being held at Camp Zeist
The Scottish Prison Service has admitted flying a dentist to the Netherlands to treat the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.

The disclosure came days after it was revealed that the SPS had dispatched a female officer to Camp Zeist to provide Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi with a haircut.

The latest revelation has again sparked anger over the use of public funds.

The dental provision offered to the convicted Libyan was revealed by the SPS in response to questions by Dumfries Scottish Parliament member Dr Elaine Murray.


I don't know when it happened or how often it's happened, but I was pretty astonished

Dr Elaine Murray, MSP
She was deeply unhappy at the way public funds were being used by the SPS to provide services at Camp Zeist, the former air force base where Al Megrahi is being held.

The Labour MSP said she first heard about the dental treatment from a constituent.

"I was in Dumfries on Saturday when a constituent said he had heard from a member of the prison service that a dentist had been sent out," she said.

"I don't know when it happened or how often it's happened, but I was pretty astonished."

Dr Murray said she had no objection to Al Megrahi receiving dental treatment, but she questioned the need for this to be provided by a dentist flown out from Scotland.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohammed Al-Megrahi
Al Megrahi: Haircut and dental treatment
She said: "There must be high security prisoners in Holland, and I would have thought it would be possible for the Scottish Prison Service to arrange for treatment in Holland."

Dr Murray added: "It is also galling when I know my own constituents have to wait a long time for dental treatment because of a shortage of NHS dentists in Dumfries."

However, a spokeswoman for the prison service defended the decision.

She said it was duty bound to offer dental provision to all inmates and that there was no health agreement with the Dutch authorities to provide the cover.

She added that there were also security issues to be considered and that although extra costs had been incurred by dispatching a Scottish dentist to Holland, it was regarded as acceptable given the uniqueness of the prison facility at Camp Zeist.

'Money wasted'

Scottish Tory spokesman Bill Aitken said he would be writing to Justice Minister Jim Wallace seeking more details.

He said: "Hard on the heels of the hairdresser's trip, how much more money will be wasted on this man on services that could be supplied from the Netherlands?"

Last week, Mr Wallace questioned whether flying a female officer to Camp Zeist to cut Al Megrahi's hair was the "best use of resources".

Dr Elaine Murray
Dr Elaine Murray: Questioned decision
The SPS defended that move saying it was based on security considerations.

It also confirmed that the officer, a former hairdresser who is based at Cornton Vale women's prison in Stirling, had cut the Libyan's hair on a previous occasion when she was on placement at Camp Zeist.

Al Megrahi was found guilty in January of the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie in December 1988, which resulted in the deaths of 270 people.

He was jailed for life with a recommendation that he serve at least 20 years.

Al Megrahi lodged an appeal against his conviction last month.

A judge sitting in chambers will decide if the grounds warrant an appeal against conviction.

Assuming Al Megrahi's appeal goes ahead, the hearing will take place before five judges at Camp Zeist.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Labour MSP Dr Elaine Murray
"It is galling when my own constituents have to wait a long time for dental treatment"

Full verdicts
Lockerbie opinion posted by Scots Court Service
Lockerbie megapuff graphic

AUDIO VIDEO

Appeal concludes

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See also:

11 Jun 01 | In Depth
02 May 01 | In Depth
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