News today continues to be dominated by the release of the Lockerbie bomber from prison in Scotland on compassionate grounds. FBI chief Robert Mueller has written to the Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny Macaskill to express his disapproval in quite strong terms. It is also quite unprecendented for a law enforcement agency to interfere in the due process of the law in another country. Notwithstanding the clear interest that the USA has in the Lockerbie affair (nearly 200 of its citizens died in the PanAm 103 bombing), the final decision was one for the devolved Scottish administration.
Justice is a devolved matter, meaning that the judiciary in Scotland is subject to the government at Holyrood (Edinburgh); foreign affairs remain the prerogative of the United Kingdom administration. The silence from UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is deafening. The Foreign Secretary (David Miliband) and Trade Secretary (Lord [Peter] Mandelson) only opened their mouths to deny Libyan claims that this was all part of a trade deal. I am waiting to hear from the Westminster Government, certainly on account of the Foreign Affairs implications that this decision has had.
It should be noted that the Westminster and Holyrood administrations are barely on speaking terms. The Scottish Government is run by the Scottish National Party, headed by First Minister Alex Salmond; the British Government in London is run by the Labour Party. There is no love lost between these parties, and the Labour Party has been strident in its condemnation of Mr Macaskill's decision. I feel that this disunity is one that is probably being played upon by the astute Col Gadaffi - I do hope that Mr Brown (and his Westminster opponent David Cameron, who also strongly condemned Megrahi's release) will cut the proverbial excrement and close ranks with other UK politicians in the face of a regime that in my mind remains as odious as it was in the late 1980s.