Britain's prime minister has vowed to cooperate fully with a proposed congressional hearing into a possible connection between BP's oil interests in Libya and the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. But he said today that a full British inquiry was unnecessary.
"Today I'm asking the cabinet secretary in the UK to go back over all the paperwork and see if there's anything else that should be released so there's the clearest possible picture out there of what decision was taken and why ," Prime Minister David Cameron told ABC News' Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview hours before his meeting with President Obama.
"I don't need an inquiry to tell me what I think I already know," he added," which is it was a bad decision to release him and it was a bad decision to even contemplate this. "
Cameron said it was Scotland's government, not his and not BP's, that made that decision.
"He was convicted of the biggest mass murder in British history," he said. " In my view that man should have died in jail."
Cameron's first official trip to the United States comes amid an explosion of criticism that his government may have been pressured by BP to trade the release of cancer-stricken al-Megrahi for lucrative oil contracts in Libya.
Al-Megrahi, who was believed to have only three months to live, was freed on compassionate grounds nearly a year ago, but is now reportedly in good health and living the hero's life in Libya, causing outrage among the families of the 270 people killed in the 1988 PanAm bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Cameron said he objected to the call by a group of U.S. senators for a drilling moratorium in Libya until the connection between BP contracts and al-Megrahi's release is fully investigated. "I think that trying to connect these issues up, I don't think, is right, frankly," Cameron told Sawyer.
"There are arguments about BP in the Gulf and there are arguments that BP should answer about who they lobbied about what and when and all the rest of it," he said, "but I don't think that actually changes what really happened, which was a decision was taken by a legitimate government."
After initially turning down a request to meet with senators from New York and New Jersey on the issue, Cameron confirmed he would sit down with them to discuss their concerns.
BP has admitted asking the British government to sign a prisoner transfer agreement, but said al-Megrahi was never mentioned specifically.
The 43-year-old prime minister, Britain's youngest leader in nearly 200 years, carefully sidestepped criticizing the Obama administration for its crackdown on BP after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Cameron said he agreed BP needs to step up and not only cap the well, but also pay out whatever compensation and fines are required by the U.S government, but said he opposed any legislation that targets BP and not others in the industry
"Would it be right to say that BP has to pay compensation for damages that were nothing to do directly with their spill, I don't think that would be right, so I think we have to be clear about what their responsibility is," he said.
But he declined to say whether he addressed any specific concerns with the Obama administration's handling of the crisis during a recent discussion with the president.