Gordon Brown spoke publicly on the Lockerbie bomber scandal yesterday — but refused to express an opinion.
The Prime Minister condemned the hero's welcome given to Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi in Libya but insisted the British Government had “no role” in the decision to free him.
Opposition politicians accused Mr Brown of a “failure of leadership” and a “masterclass in evasion” and renewed demands for him to make clear whether he supported the decision.
Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said he would table Parliamentary questions to establish what dealings London had with Libya in the run-up to the release.
The PM was forced into his first public comments since last week's release when he faced reporters after talks at 10 Downing Street with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Asked whether he thought it was the right or wrong decision, Mr Brown said his first thoughts had been with the families of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing.
“I was both angry and I was repulsed by the reception that a convicted bomber guilty of a huge terrorist crime received on his return to Libya,” he added.
The PM said when he met the Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi earlier this year he told him the bomber's release was not his decision.
“I made it absolutely clear to him that we had no role in making the decision about Megrahi's future,” he said.
“Because it was a quasi-judicial matter, because it was a matter legislated for by the Scottish Parliament and not by us, it was a matter over which we could not interfere and had no control over the final outcome.”
He dismissed suggestions the decision by the Scottish Justice Secretary would undermine Britain's relationship with the US and its other allies against terrorism.
“I don't think what has happened will undermine our relationships with Israel, or the United States, or other countries who engage with us in the fight against terrorism,” he said.
“I made it absolutely clear that whatever the decision that is made on a quasi-judicial basis by the Scottish Parliament, our determination to fight terrorism is clear.”
Mr Brown faced severe criticism at the weekend for failing to comment on the matter, despite finding time to express his views on the England cricket team's Ashes victory.
And opposition parties said yesterday's comments had done nothing to reduce the need for him to express an opinion on the decision — which has been condemned by US President Barack Obama.
“The whole country is astonished that it's taken the Prime Minister five days to give at best a partial response,” Mr Hague said.
“When so many other people in other countries have commented on the Scottish Government's decision, it is a continuing failure of leadership for Gordon Brown to be unable to say what he thinks about the ruling.”
Liberal Democrat spokesman Edward Davey said: “Gordon Brown's comments on Lockerbie are a masterclass in evasion.
“When a decision is made by another politician and has such grave international consequences, the Prime Minister's refusal to say whether or not he supports it almost amounts to negligence.”