Sir Nigel Sheinwald, Britain's envoy to the United States said Thursday that Scotland's decision to free convicted Lockerbie jet bomber Abdel Baset Al-Megrahi was "a mistake" but denied that oil interests influenced the decision. Al-Megrahi was released by the Scottish government after doctors said the convicted terrorist had prostate cancer and just three months to live, but he is still alive, almost a year later. Sheinwald said, in a statement, "A Scottish inquiry concluded in February that the medical opinion and the release was done in good faith."
British Petroleum signed a $900 million exploration agreement with Libya in May 2007, when the United Kingdom and Libya signed an agreement that paved the way for Al-Megrahi's release. The company admitted that it had lobbied the British government over a prisoner transfer deal with Libya later that year, but denied playing any role in the actual decision to release al-Megrahi nearly two years later.
Sheinwald's statement concluded, "The British government deeply regrets the continuing anguish that his release on compassionate grounds has caused the families of Megrahi's victims in the U.K., as well as in the U.S."