Page last updated at 13:27 GMT, Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Lockerbie bomber release rules 'followed'

Megrahi
Megrahi was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008

Scotland's first minister has rejected claims he failed to work closely enough with Westminster over the release of the convicted Lockerbie bomber.

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi's early release by Scottish ministers on compassionate grounds in August sparked a political row.

MPs asked First Minister Alex Salmond whether there had been "buck passing" between the Scots and UK governments.

He said his government had to observe the rules of the legal process.

Mr Salmond told Westminster's Scottish affairs committee it had not been possible to involve the UK government too closely in the decision to release terminally ill Megrahi, an issue devolved to Scotland.

Controversial decision

He was giving evidence to the committee, along with Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and Scotland's top civil servant, Sir John Elvidge, as part of an investigation into co-operation and communication between the Scottish and UK governments.

Scottish ministers have said the protocols were followed and the UK and US governments were informed prior to the release.

The decision to release 57-year-old Megrahi - the only man convicted of blowing up Pan Am flight 103 - from prison in Scotland has remained hugely controversial.

But the Holyrood government said the move was in line with the ideals of the Scottish justice system.



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