Saturday, October 22, 2011

How much damage could Saif do to Britain: Why New Labour may not relish him telling all in a war trial - 22nd Oct 2011

A few days after the fall of Tripoli to anti-Gaddafi forces, I visited the newly reopened Libyan foreign ministry and took tea with the head of its ‘British desk’.

Like a surprising number of senior civil servants under the old regime, he had survived the transition in place.

Our talk turned to the remarkable period during Britain’s New Labour government when Gaddafi’s Libya changed almost overnight from being a pariah state, whose operatives had killed a London policewoman and sponsored IRA terrorism, to our new best friend.

A very public signal of this rapprochement was the 2009 early release on ‘humanitarian grounds’ of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Libyan agent convicted of the 1989 Lockerbie bombing.

Stricken with prostate cancer, Megrahi was said to have only months to live. Now, he has outlived Gaddafi.

‘The Megrahi affair was a very embarrassing one for your government,’ the Libyan foreign office mandarin smiled, politely. ‘I remember Saif al-Islam coming into this very office, just after the deal was done, and announcing “We bought them off!” He was very pleased with himself.’

Less so today.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the late dictator’s favourite son and one-time heir apparent, is reportedly on the run for his life. Some sources suggest that he is also badly wounded, possibly as a result of a strike by RAF planes. Read More