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Gaddafi warned UK over plane bomber

Britain was threatened by the Gaddafi regime that there would "dire consequences" for UK-Libya relations if Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi died in his Scottish jail cell.

The extent of lobbying by the Libyan government leading up to Megrahi's release in August 2009 has been laid bare after confidential documents were discovered by reporters in the abandoned British embassy building in Tripoli.

In one, seen by The Mail on Sunday, senior Foreign Office official Robert Dixon wrote to Foreign Secretary David Miliband in January 2009 that Muammar Gaddafi wanted Megrahi to return to Libya "at all costs".

"Libyan officials and ministers have warned of dire consequences for the UK-Libya relationship and UK commercial operations in Libya in the event of Megrahi's death in custody," he wrote. He added: "We believe Libya might seek to exact vengeance."

Megrahi - the only person convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing - was released on compassionate grounds after the Scottish government was told he had only three months to live. He is still alive.

After a review of the paperwork in the case, Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell said in February that British ministers in the last Labour government believed Megrahi's release would be the "best outcome" as they feared that UK interests in Libya would be damaged if he was allowed to die in a Scottish jail.

Other documents discovered in Tripoli apparently indicated that MI5 traded information with their Libyan counterparts. The security service provided intelligence on British-based Libyans opposed to the Gaddafi regime, which said it had seen an MI5 paper marked "UK/Libya eyes only secret". In return, MI5 received updates on the disclosures of terrorist suspects under interrogation in Libyan prisons.

Among the finds is a letter that then prime minister Tony Blair wrote in 2007 to help Gaddafi's son Saif with his PhD thesis. It begins "Dear Engineer Saif" and is signed off "Best wishes, yours sincerely, Tony Blair".

The latest cache of documents contained communications between British and Libyan security ahead of Mr Blair's desert-tent meeting with Gaddafi when the then prime minister moved to thaw relations with the dictator in 2004. Britain is said to have helped the Libyan dictator with his speech-writing.

The documents also show how the CIA worked with the Gaddafi regime on the rendition of terrorist suspects.


From Belfast Telegraph