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Britain under pressure amid Lockerbie release

Britain’s leaders faced strong pressure on Saturday to account for any role they might have had in the release of the Lockerbie bomber after Moammar Gadhafi credited senior British officials and members of the royal family for influencing the decision.

world Updated: Aug 22, 2009 20:01 IST

Britain’s leaders faced strong pressure on Saturday to account for any role they might have had in the release of the Lockerbie bomber after Moammar Gadhafi credited senior British officials and members of the royal family for influencing the decision.

Britain has condemned the scenes of jubilation in Tripoli at the return of bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi and has flatly denied there was any trade deal linked to his release.

But opposition politicians say comments from Gadhafi’s son - who said the release was often brought up during trade talks - should be examined.

“It is very important, I think, for the reputation of our institutions of justice that it is made clear beyond any doubt that this was not connected with some political trade,” David Lidington, the opposition Conservative Party’s spokesman on foreign affairs, told the BBC.

Gadhafi hugged the only man convicted of the 1988 bombing that killed 270 people - many of them American college students - in a meeting on Friday after al-Megrahi’s return home late Thursday.

Al-Megrahi kissed the Libyan leader’s hand as the cameras rolled.

Libyan television showed pictures of Gadhafi singling out British Prime Minister Gordon Brown by name, as well as “the Queen of Britain, Elizabeth, and Prince Andrew, who all contributed to encouraging the Scottish government to take this historic and courageous decision, despite the obstacles.”