Wednesday, 9 February 2011

An inconvenient truth? Salmond wanted deal on Megrahi says Straw

Exclusive to today's Scottish edition of The Times:

Mr Straw  recalled that he had had two conversations with Mr MacAskill early in November 2007. The first, on November 2, went unminuted because Mr MacAskill was in a car and it was “not practically possible” to record the details, according to Scottish government officials.
    In the conversation, a UK government minute reveals, Mr Straw explained that if al-Megrahi was excluded from the PTA, a multibillion-pound contract between BP and the Libyan government would not be signed — to the detriment of Scottish and wider interests. Mr MacAskill told Mr Straw he would discuss these matters with the First Minister.
    A few days later the two justice ministers spoke again. “There was then a conversation when he asked for a deal. He obviously spoke to (Alex) Salmond,” Mr Straw said.
   He added: “He (MacAskill) understandably saw an opportunity to get us to move on two things that they wanted in return for their acquiescence with the fact that I couldn’t get a carve out on Megrahi in the text on the PTA.”
    The first of these, according to Mr Straw, was assistance from the UK Government in limiting the compensation that the Scottish government might have to pay to prisoners suing for compensation over slopping out. The second was the devolution of firearms legislation.
    Mr Straw said: “The inconvenient truth is that this is true. I’m not in the business of making things up and why would I make this up?”
    That claim was hotly denied last night by Scottish government officials and Mr Salmond said in a television interview that Mr Straw had misunderstood his government’s position.

You can read the rest if you buy a paper, or subscribe to Timesonline. It's quite interesting.