Page last updated at 13:58 GMT, Tuesday, 5 May 2009 14:58 UK

Bomber visit 'blocked' claims MSP

Greenock Prison
Ms Grahame had hope to make the visit at Greenock prison

A South of Scotland MSP has claimed prison chiefs blocked a visit she had arranged with the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.

The SNP's Christine Grahame was due to meet Abdelbasset Ali al-Megrahi in Greenock prison on Sunday.

She said her office was contacted on Saturday night and the visit was cancelled for "unspecified reasons"

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) said there were "established procedures" for visits including appropriate notice.

The MSP believes the Libyan, who is suffering from prostate cancer, was wrongly convicted and has been working with relatives of victims to overturn the verdict.

From the evidence I have seen I think there is an indication that very senior officials and British ministers do not want the truth about this case to enter the public arena
Christine Grahame MSP

"I was offered a private visit last week to speak to Mr Megrahi directly and I intended to meet with him on Sunday morning," she said.

"On Saturday evening, however, the prison governor contacted my office to advise that the meeting would not be able to proceed due to unspecified reasons.

"Despite several attempts to seek clarification from the SPS no satisfactory explanation has been offered."

The 57-year-old is currently appealing his conviction for the bombing, for which he is serving a 27-year minimum sentence.

A spokesman for the SPS said it did not comment on individual prisoners.

He added: "The SPS has established procedures for organising visits which involve appropriate notice and adherence to appropriate booking procedures.

"Whilst we try to accommodate all visits this is not always possible especially at weekends."

'Rushed through'

Ms Grahame, a qualified lawyer, believes the conviction is "unsafe" and has been working closely with the Justice for Megrahi campaign.

She said: "From the evidence I have seen I think there is an indication that very senior officials and British ministers do not want the truth about this case to enter the public arena."

She claimed a recent prisoner transfer protocol with Libya was "rushed through" by UK ministers in the hope the appeal would be dropped.

Mr Megrahi would have to do this, under the terms of the protocol arrangement, to be eligible to be transferred back home to Libya.

Ms Grahame said that would ensure details of the "unsafe nature" of the conviction would not emerge.



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