Reports allege that former Thatcher minister Lord Trefgarne was in the pay of the Libyan regime while lobbying for the release of Lockerbie bomber Mohmed Al Megrahi.
Just as the Conservative leadership in Westminster continues to oppose the release by the Scottish government of the Lockerbie bomber on compassionate grounds, so news has emerged of how one former Conservative minister under Margaret Thatcher is allegedly owed almost £1 million for his efforts to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi.
According to reports, the former trade minister, Lord Trefgarne, and Professor Robert Black of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Law, have previously made representations to Muammar Gaddafi’s now fugitive son, Saif al-Islam, demanding their money back.
Trefgane and Black had both provided legal and political expertise to secure the release of the Lockerbie bomber and ensure his original trial was on neutral territory. However, according to a leaked copy, in 2007, Lord Tregarne wrote to Saif seeking payment for his and Professor Black’s work.
The letter, on House of Lords headed paper said:
“During the course of our conversations in London I ventured to draw your attention to the problem being experienced by Professor Robert Black and myself in relation to fees owed over a considerable number of years.
“The amount now owing following a small payment on account is 1.5m USD. This may seem a large sum but in fact represents nine years’ remuneration, no less, for two senior professionals and is measurably below, we are told, the hourly/daily rates paid to some others.
“Professor Black and I would be very grateful for your advice on this matter.”
In a joint statement, the pair argued that in 1993 they began working towards unblocking the “impasse” that was preventing Megrahi’s trial taking place because Libya refused to extradite him to Scotland or the United States.
“Over the course of the next six years, Lord Trefgarne and Professor Black worked strenuously to secure acceptance of the neutral venue scheme that Professor Black formulated in early 1994.
“No payment was sought or received for these endeavours. It was only after Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi’s conviction at Zeist in January 2001 and Professor Black had publicly expressed the strong view that that conviction was legally unwarranted, that an agreement was entered into with his lawyer, Dr Ibrahim Legwell, that Lord Trefgarne and Professor Black should receive payment for future political and legal advice on avenues of appeal.
“In the event, the only sum actually paid barely covered expenses. Lord Trefgarne and Professor Black again emphasise that this was an entirely proper arrangement reflecting the circumstances of the time.”
Despite arguing nothing improper had taken place however, the Labour MP for Dumfries and Galloway, Russell Brown, has outlined his surprise at what happened, explaining:
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“Lord Trefgarne was one of the people who lobbied the SNP to release the Lockerbie bomber just days before Kenny MacAskill visited the terrorist in jail. Now it seems he was in the pay of the Libyans.”