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    MacAskill to skip US Lockerbie hearing


    by ODN


    The Scottish Justice Secretary has defended his decision not to attend the US Senate's hearing on the release of the Lockerbie bomber, saying he was "accountable to Scotland" and had "no information to provide" on any BP oil deal.

    Kenny MacAskill was invited to appear before the Senate hearing, along with former UK justice secretary Jack Straw and BP chief executive Tony Hayward.

    Members of the US Senate foreign relations committee want to investigate the suspicions of some senators that oil giant BP may have had a hand in the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi last August.

    But Mr MacAskill insisted that the Scottish Government was "neither party nor privy" to any discussions that may have taken place with BP.

    He denied claims that he was "running scared" from an inquiry, and said the Scottish Government was co-operating fully with the US "as best we can".

    Mr MacAskill said: "The US Senate's invitation is primarily predicated on an investigation into what may or may not have happened with regard to a BP oil deal."

    "The Scottish Government was neither party nor privy to what was going on there, so we've made it quite clear that we have no information that we can provide regarding that.

    "I'm not running scared from anything. What we are doing is co-operating fully with the United States Senate as best we can." MacAskill added.

    Earlier Labour's Holyrood justice spokesman Richard Baker urged Mr MacAskill to appear before the Senate committee when it meets on Thursday.

    Mr Baker said: "It speaks volumes about the lack of confidence he has now in his own decision that he is running a mile from any scrutiny of it."