UK minister advised Libya on bomber's release-report

Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:55pm GMT

The release fuelled anger in the United States, because 189 of the 270 victims were American, leading U.S. politicians to question whether commercial considerations played a part.

The Daily Telegraph said a senior Foreign Office official later briefed the U.S. ambassador to London on Rammell's letter, which it said outlined the procedure for obtaining compassionate release.

The Labour government in power in London at the time of Megrahi's release has since been replaced by a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.

Responding to The Daily Telegraph report, a Foreign Office spokesman said the government believed Megrahi's release was a mistake and that the decision was made solely by the Scottish executive.

He said Prime Minister David Cameron had asked a senior official to review papers held by the government to see if more should be published about the background to the decision to free Megrahi and the review would be completed as soon as possible.

The Daily Telegraph said the latest WikiLeaks documents showed British ministers and officials were desperate not to allow Libyan anger over Megrahi's imprisonment to derail the growing commercial relationship between the two countries.

Britain's Guardian newspaper, quoting other U.S. diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks, reported in December that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi threatened to cut trade with Britain and warned of "enormous repercussions" if Megrahi died in jail. (Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by)

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