Tories want Megrahi health reports

THE Conservatives last night called for updates on the Lockerbie bomber's medical condition to be made public on the eve of the three-month anniversary of his release.

Today marks the 90th day since Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi received a hero's welcome in Libya after he was controversially freed by the Scottish Government.

Justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has insisted that his decision was made on the basis of medical evidence which said Megrahi had as little as 90 days to live.

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That landmark will be passed today with Megrahi, who is suffering from terminal prostate cancer, still alive in Libya.

The state of the health of the man convicted of murdering 270 people when Pan Am Flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie has been the subject of much conjecture.

Mr MacAskill said his decision to release the bomber on 20 August was based on a report on the medical evidence provided by Dr Andrew Fraser, the director of health and care at the Scottish Prison Service (SPS).

But critics have pointed out that the report said that four prostate cancer specialists had been unwilling to give the three-month prognosis and it had come only from the Greenock Prison doctor, a GP.

Yesterday Bill Aitken, the Conservative justice spokesman, said:

"Mr Megrahi lost all rights to patient confidentiality when he became Britain's worst mass murderer. Scotland is still sickened by the sight of his hero's return to Tripoli.

"He is supposed to be regularly monitored in Libya to ensure he complies with the terms of his freedom licence.

"The government must ensure full details are published, including all ongoing medical assessments."

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Under the terms of Megrahi's release, East Renfrewshire Council receives a monthly report from his doctors in Libya.

The council is monitoring Megrahi because his family lived in a house in Newton Mearns during his imprisonment in Greenock Prison.

Frank Duggan, the president of the American relatives group Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, said: "We have never believed that Megrahi is as sick as people said he was. To this day, we have never seen any medical reports.

"The American families have said just about all they want to say on this. They told Kenny MacAskill he shouldn't be released, but it fell on deaf ears."

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: "Dr Fraser, director of health and social care at SPS, based the prognosis in his report on a range of expert medical opinion given over a period of time.

"That report has been published and is available on the Scottish Government website."

A spokesman for East Renfrewshire Council said: "Despite the extraordinary circumstances of this case, he will be treated just like any other criminal-justice client and we will not be making this public."

Timeline: From bombing to freedom

• 21 December, 1988: Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie on its journey from London to New York.

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• January 2001: Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi is convicted of murdering 270 people and sentenced to life imprisonment. Megrahi immediately appeals.

• 2002: First appeal rejected.

• 2003: At the request of Megrahi, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) reviews his case.

• 2007: The SCCRC refers his case back to the High Court on the basis that there "may have been a miscarriage of justice".

• 14 August, 2009: Megrahi's legal team announces it had lodged a minute with the court seeking permission to abandon both his appeals, against conviction and his sentence.

• 18 August: Court gives leave to Megrahi to abandon his appeal.

• 20 August: Justice secretary announces his decision to reject the Libyan government's application for prisoner transfer, and to release Megrahi on compassionate grounds.

• 21 August: Crown drops its appeal against the sentence still outstanding.