President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron today both agreed that the decision to release Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al Megrahi last year was a bad decision, and Obama said he fully supports Cameron’s efforts to learn more about the about the release.
Answering questions in a press conference in the East Room of the White House – the leaders were questioned over the role that oil company BP had in pushing for the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al Megrahi last year in order to help secure a lucrative oil exploration deal with Libya.
Libyan-born al Megrahi was convicted of masterminding the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 and sentenced to life in prison but was released and allowed to return to Libya last year on compassionate grounds after it was determined he had only months left to live.
Both BP and the current British government, which came to power only months ago, deny the company played any role in securing the bomber’s release last year.
Cameron insisted repeatedly today that the decision to release Megrahi was solely that of the Scottish government and he has not seen anything to indicate that they were swayed by any efforts by BP. He also said he did not think there was a need for a U.K. based inquiry into the matter.
“I don’t need an inquiry to tell me what was a bad decision,” he said. “It was a bad decision.”
The British Prime Minister did say that while there was “absolutely not harm to be done” by providing a full explanation into the circumstances, he did not think there was “any great mystery here.”
“There was a decision taken by the Scottish Executive — in my view, a wholly wrong and misguided decision, a bad decision, but their decision, nonetheless,” he said. “That's what happened, and I don't think we need an extra inquiry to tell us that that's what happened.”
Obama said he agreed that the release of Magrahi was a “bad decision,” but he said he fully supports Cameron’s efforts to learn more.
Cameron said that there should be no confusion between the oil spill and the Libyan bomber.
“That wasn't a decision taken by BP; it was a decision taken by the Scottish government,” he said. “We have to accept that under the laws of my country, where power on certain issues has devolved to Scotland, this was a decision for the Scottish executive — a decision that they took.
Read more on the British Prime Minister’s First Official Visit to the White House here.
-Karen Travers and Sunlen Miller