Page last updated at 10:09 GMT, Monday, 24 August 2009 11:09 UK

Boycott calls over bomber release

Scotch whisky bottles
Scotland exports hundreds of millions of pounds worth of whisky to the US

Calls for a boycott of Scottish goods have been made in the US following the controversial decision to release the man convicted of carrying out the Lockerbie bombing.

A website urging Americans to "Boycott Scotland" has been set up featuring a list of e-mail addresses for prominent Scottish and UK politicians, as well as contact details for Scottish newspapers and a list of Scottish products and companies.

The site accuses the Scottish and UK governments of committing a "flagrant betrayal" by releasing Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi.

It said a boycott was the "only way to send a clear and direct message" of American anger over the decision.

The Scots are loved in America so this [calls for a boycott] is out of left field
Tom Rivers
ABC Radio

An online petition calling for a boycott of Scottish goods which was linked to by the website had attracted 460 signatures by Monday morning.

However, many of those who had signed were Scots who backed the release of Megrahi on compassionate grounds.

A second petition said to have been started by Scots opposed to Megrahi's release had been signed by about 250 people on Monday, many of them anonymous.

Grassroots campaigns were also taking hold on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, while calls have even been made to have Scotch whisky renamed as Freedom Liquor.

Tourist body VisitScotland said it had received e-mails from Americans pledging to cancel holidays in Scotland.

Visitors from the US accounted for 340,000 trips to Scotland in 2008, and spent £260m in the country, according to figures published by VisitScotland.

This accounted for 21% of spending by people from outside the UK.

VisitScotland spokeswoman Alison Robb said: "We have had e-mails from people in America saying they're going to cancel their holidays but have had no cancellations through our booking engine.

"We have alerted our staff and made them aware of the situation."

However, she confirmed that a US advertising campaign for the Year of Homecoming will still go ahead next month as planned.

The States is Scotland's single biggest export market, with some £2.3bn of Scottish goods sold to America in 2007. Whisky exports alone were worth £370m.

But members of the whisky industry have told BBC Scotland they were confident any boycott would soon fizzle out and not pose a long-term threat to sales.

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, pictured with Col Gaddafi's son after arriving in Tripoli
Megrahi's release is a 'hot' topic in the US broadcast media, Mr Rivers said

And the Scottish North America Business Council said Scotland's relationship with America should not be affected by the decision to release Megrahi.

It said the issue was a political rather than a business one, and it was unaware of any anti-Scottish sentiment in terms of business or trade links.

Tom Rivers, ABC radio's correspondent in the UK, said the early release of the terminally-ill Megrahi was vey much a "hot" topic in the US media.

He said it was being widely discussed on the talk show circuit, and well as the television morning shows and the tabloid press.

This had been accompanied by a "growing phenomenon of flak" on the internet, he said, with websites calling for boycotts of Scottish goods and for people not to holiday in the UK.

Mr Rivers said: "You think back six years to when French Fries were renamed in America as Freedom Fries, when French wine was being poured down the gutters of certain streets in certain large cities in America. I think it is symbolic, I think it is a bit superficial, but that sentiment is there.

"How does it change? What can people like Gordon Brown do and say to change public perception in America? It is a big question."

An annual Tartan Week of events in New York has been held in recent years, with the aim of giving Scotland a higher profile in the US in a bid to attract tourism.

'More flak'

"The Scots are loved in America so this [calls for a boycott] is out of left field, we have never seen anything like this before," Mr Rivers added.

"As to how it will evolve and change, we will just need to sit back and watch because it will be hard to read, but I think there is going to be more flak in the coming days.

"It may be yesterday's news next month, but right now it is hot."

Mr Rivers said Americans had been told that the Scottish legal system was the "gold standard" for the world at the time of Megrahi's trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands in 2001, and there had not been the same controversy over Megrahi's conviction in the US as there has been elsewhere.

He added: "Now that these questions have been raised once again Americans are saying 'I don't want to go back to square one and have to re-examine evidence and rethink.'

"They are saying 'Megrahi is the one who done it - how can you guys release him?'"


Read some of your comments:

Sadly, I must show my support for the victims of Lockerbie, and now forego my favorite luxury, that being imported single malt scotch whisky. As an American of Scottish descent, this is particularly painful, though not as painful as watching a mass murdered be set free. On the bright side, I will instead enjoy my Jack Daniel's Tennessee whisky and Kentucky Bourbon, which will actually save me money, a welcome side benefit of Scotland's cruelty to the families of those lost by the acts of the murdered they deemed worthy of "mercy." His release is a slap in the face to civilized societies.
John, Washington, DC

Lets make this painful for Scotland, Scotch is off the shopping list along with anything else that they make. Trade with Lybia if you like but not me.
David, Tamworth UK

I like my single malt scotch, I like the Scots though I find them a bit dour at times. I have no intention of boycotting anything Scottish (except perhaps haggis which I had once in Scotland and swore never again); the very idea is absurd. Why? Because Megrahi was a bit player here, he did not do this on his own.
Leonard, New York City, USA

There will not be any real support for such a boycott. This is just another stupid reaction by my fellow citizens. It is really time for me to immigrate elsewhere!
David, Chicago, USA

Anti-Scottish sentiment? I have yet to see any. Also 6 years ago French Fries weren't renamed for the entire country. The manager of the capitol's cafeteria just changed the labels as a joke. Also wine poured down drains if it did happen was not widespread. Who is this Mr.Rivers?
Christopher, Washington DC, USA

This is the most moronic thing I've ever heard. What exactly is this boycott supposed to achieve? This will only hurt a population who are already struggling financially. Do any Americans actually believe the majority of Scotland agrees and supports the decision to free this man? If these people want to vent their anger, I suggest they look at the politicians who made the decision, and not the Scottish people. Are they failing to remember how many Scots also lost their lives that day?
Neil, Arbroath, Scotland

I think most people are bright enough to realise not everyone in Scotland is in agreement with the release. I am sure that even the most hardline will understand that Bells, Johnny Walker and even the Moffat Woollen Mill, were left out of the decision making process. As such, pouring whisky "down the gutter", or burning shortbread will only result then them being out a few quid and having an empty bottle and a singed biscuit. Also to be honest, after reading numerous comments on various forums; anyone that posts comments like: "I am ashamed of my 15% Scottish Blood" or "We should blow up one of their flights", I can live without bumping into in the pub anyway...
John, Edinburgh, Scotland

I'm from Scotland. As for Scotland being the "Gold Standard" legal system, I've never heard such rubbish. Scotlands legal system is a joke. If you are American help us out and punish our incompetant and lilly livered politicians.
Brian, Greenock

I think the boycott's a good idea. Alas, I shall not participate. As an Edinburgh resident, I would have to drive to Berwick to buy my groceries and that's not feasible. Although the release of Megrahi is something over which reasonable people might disagree, Mr MacAskill's sanctimonious and paternalistic justification of it--reminiscent of the Bush administration at its worst--and the subsequent furor it engendered has exposed the depth and level of anti-Americanism in Scotland in particular and Britain generally.
Frank, Edinburgh, Scotland

I am appalled by the actions of our and Scottish 'politicians', and whole heartedly agree with any boycott against Scottish products, as a mark of protest. Being proudly British, I feel as if should personnaly appologise to all the still grieving families for the actions of our elected leaders, and the back room dealing, that allows a convicted mass murderer freedom.
Simon, Stockton on Tees, UK

Yes, am in suport of d boycott, this megrahi's issue is an international affair, scotts can't just release him becos of one stupid excuse, america should stop all deal with scotish, dis guy may strike again, only God kwon's.
Dr Akhator, Benin city, Nigeria

We including all UK should be proud that we stand by our principals and can be the bigger person. Should we be more worried that we can't stand up for ourselves or that the richest country and well educated population thinks a reaction like this is justified.
Steven, Perth, Scotland

America just wants a bogey man to indefinitely punish and the talk of a Scots product boycott is clearly ridiculous. The Scots should be praised for following due process and envied for the high quality of their legal system. Richard, Pontypridd, Wales

Boycott Scottish products in the U.S., that's funny. Everything here comes from China anyway.
Jeff, Alton, USA

I'll be boycotting macdonalds - they sound Scottish.
jimbo,

I have already been boycotting the Scottish Football team for years as they are rotten. I will continue this boycott and no amount of terrorist releases will make me change my mind.
Sean, Greenock



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