I worry more and more about the BBC’s supposed flagship 10 o’ clock Television News. Last week it consumed more than half the programme in an extraordinarily repetitive, virtually information-free report on the hunt for Raoul Moat.
Last night it devoted seven minutes to American outrage over the release eleven months ago of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. You will remember that al-Megrahi was freed from his Scottish prison on compassionate grounds, after being diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.
Two BBC reporters told us how cross the Americans were that al-Megrahi had had the temerity to not die, that the new UK government now considered the release a “mistake”, how the Americans were accusing their favourite villain, BP, of having engineered the release etc, etc. Neither reporter seemed aware that there are very serious doubts about al-Megrahi’s guilt, shared by the families of some of the UK victims. (These doubts appear not to be much thought about in America where questioning the guilt of Arabs is not really part of the culture.)
Jim Swire, whose daughter was killed in the attack, has condemned the US’s “mass hysteria” and its cynical attempt to use al-Megrahi as another means of taking “revenge” on BP. The Scottish government are standing firm and have coolly pointed out that the prisoner was released under due process of Scots law, after taking into account the testimony of independent medical experts.
The Americans want an inquiry into al-Megrahi’s release, but Scottish MSP Christine Grahame has a better idea. Why doesn’t the US stop blocking a full independent inquiry into who really bombed Flight 103? Then we might finally get the truth. The new British Prime Minister, David Cameron, is in Washington next week. He has promised to be less subservient to the Americans than Labour were. The next few days may reveal whether he will keep his word.
(See also my blogs of 27 July, 16 and 22 Aug, and 19 Sept, 2009)