Page last updated at 20:12 GMT, Thursday, 20 August 2009 21:12 UK

Holyrood recall over freed bomber

Holyrood
The Scottish Parliament has only been recalled twice before

The Scottish Parliament is to be recalled on Monday to discuss the controversial decision to release the Lockerbie bomber.

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi has flown back to Libya after being released on compassionate grounds.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said Megrahi, dying from cancer, faced a sentence "imposed by a higher power".

The Labour Party said the process had been a "shambles", characterised by leaks, briefings and counter briefings.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "The justice secretary reached his decisions on the basis of due process, clear evidence, and recommendations from the parole board and prison governor.

I have pressed for the recall of the Scottish Parliament for days now. It is right that MSPs meet on Monday
Iain Gray
Scottish Labour leader

"Mr MacAskill is entirely open and accountable to parliament, and now that he has made his statement will be pleased to answer any and all questions which MSPs have on this important matter."

Holyrood presiding officer Alex Fergusson announced the move to bring back MSPs from their summer break, days after turning down an earlier request from the Liberal Democrats.

Mr Fergusson said: "Following the announcement by the cabinet secretary for justice at 1pm today on the compassionate release of Mr Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, I can confirm I have taken the decision to recall parliament at the earliest practicable opportunity."

The parliament will reconvene at 1430 BST on Monday when Mr MacAskill is expected to make a statement on his decision to release Megrahi.

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi
Megrahi flew back to Libya after being freed from Greenock jail

He will then face questions on his handling of the case - and his ultimate decision - from MSPs.

Mr Fergusson previously turned down a request by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott to recall parliament.

The presiding officer said it would be "more appropriate" for MSPs to consider the move once a decision had been made on Megrahi.

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said: "I have pressed for the recall of the Scottish Parliament for days now. It is right that MSPs meet on Monday."

Mr Gray outlined a series of questions which he said must be answered to explain "what went wrong".

These included why there had been a "consistent lack of clarity" from the Scottish Government press department on the process and on when a decision would be made.

He also called for clarity on why the process of release seemed to be in place before the announcement was made.

The Scottish Parliament has been recalled on two previous occasions. These followed the deaths of former First Minister Donald Dewar in October 2000 and the Queen Mother in April 2002.



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