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Classified Lockerbie bombing files released after 25 years

The reports on John Major's cabinet meetings have been classified since 1992.

Lockerbie: Hundreds of lives lost in act of terror.
Lockerbie: Hundreds of lives lost in act of terror. PA

Newly declassified files documenting the UK Government's efforts to bring the Lockerbie bomber to justice in Scotland have been released.

A total of 270 people lost their lives when Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up on December 21, 1988.

Libyan citizen Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted of carrying out the attack in 2001 after a series of failed attempts to extradite him.

The newly released files reveal reveal Douglas Hurd, foreign secretary to Prime Minister John Major, believed sanctions intended to force Libya into handing over Megrahi were "rattling" its leaders as early as 1992.

'Libya was showing signs of being rattled [...] and beginning to claim willingness to hand over the two suspects for trial but on conditions that were unacceptable [...] It would be a big prize if Colonel Gadaffi were to do this.'
Report on meeting at 10 Downing Street on March 12, 1992

He said it would be a "big prize" if Muammar Gaddafi released him to face a Scottish court but warned the UK Government should refuse to negotiate.

He cautioned against getting drawn into a "web of negotiation" and in a later meeting acknowledged the chances of Gaddafi leader agreeing were "slight".

Hurd admitted that if the Libyan government remained defiant in the face of sanctions "the prospects for tightening them would not be good".

'Were Gaddafi to continue to refuse to comply [...] the sanctions would have to be continued. The prospects for tightening would not be good.'
Report on meeting at 10 Downing Street on April 15, 1992

Sanctions would eventually succeed in securing Megrahi's extradition, although it would be another seven years until that happened.

Gaddafi handed over Megrahi and his co-accused Lamin Khalifah Fhimah in 1999.

They were put on trial at a specially convened Scottish court in the Netherlands in 2001.

Meghrahi was convicted of murder and given a life sentence, while Mr Fhimah was acquitted.

The conviction remains controversial, however.

Jim Swire, the father of a Lockerbie victim, has campaigned to clear Megrahi's name.

He met the foreign secretary in 1992 and is described in the papers as a "sensible man with whom it is important to keep in touch".

https://stv.tv/news/west-central/1392743-lockerbie-bomber-s-family-in-third-bid-to-clear-name/ | default

Earlier this year, Megrahi's family launched a third appeal against his conviction with Mr Swire's backing.

Megrahi's supporters believe he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice and claimed the bombing was ordered by Iran in retaliation for the downing of an Iranian airliner in 1988, which killed 290 people.

They believe the Lockerbie bombing was carried out by a Syrian-Palestinian group who escaped justice.

Megrahi served the majority of his sentence in Scotland but was controversially released in August 2009 after he was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. Megrahi returned to Libya, where he died in May 2012.

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