This morning I asked a lobby journalist whether the “oil for al-Megrahi scandal” [©Chambers 2009] had legs. We both agreed that it didn’t for long: the published letters would give nothing substantial away, some would claim the wrong letters had been published (such as David Jones MP), but without further proof, the issue would die as MPs returned from the recess.
Now I have changed my mind. We were mostly right about the letters – and indeed the coverage and interviews have failed to throw up any substantial new leads¹. Perhaps Bill Rammell put pressure on the Scottish Executive but Alex Salmond has been redoubtable in his televised efforts to vindicate his government and even caused one BBC journalist to apologise to him.
Where we were wrong was on whether it was necessary for there to be new leads. The coverage would probably not have continued for much longer in the UK but the US media are determined to keep pressing on this issue.
This is because, in 2 weeks or so, Gordon Brown will be visiting Pittsburgh for the G20 summit. The al-Megrahi story will now dominate his visit to the USA, despite the refusal of the US government to discuss this issue anymore. US cable news will start to do what it does best: clamour. Watch the video below of NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd on “Morning Joe” for what’s to come for Brown.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
¹UPDATE 1st September: Ok, so this Bill Rammell issue is becoming quite big but it in no way shows that Megrahi was released for oil. Mr Rammell purportedly said: “Neither the Prime Minister nor the Foreign Secretary would want Mr Megrahi to die in prison but the decision on transfer lies in the hands of Scottish Ministers”. This is no smoking gun. The issue once again is Gordon Brown’s opinion – quite a different issue to corruption.