As Abdelbaset al-Megrahi makes his way to the airport after his release from prison on compassionate grounds, you have a choice of two conspiracy theories about why he was allowed out.
Option 1: it was all about oil. Interesting fact: while Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa, Libya has the largest reserves. You might therefore conclude that there’s plenty of exploration / production fun to be had there. You might also observe that the Libyan Investment Corporation’s partner in this activity is, er, BP (see their annual review, p. 26). Add in the reports that Peter Mandelson just happened to run into Colonel Gadaffi’s son in (where else) Corfu, and presto! Your conspiracy theory is ready to serve.
Option 2: Richard Ingrams, on the other hand, has an altogether different theory - and it goes like this:
The Justice Minister Jack Straw is old enough to know that we have a long and shameful tradition, where terrorism is concerned, of imprisoning the wrong people. And the notorious Irish cases in the 1970s and 80s wreaked havoc with the reputation of the police, the intelligence services and the judges.
The offence of which Megrahi was – almost certainly wrongly – convicted after a trial lasting six months before three distinguished Scottish judges was far more serious than anything the Guildford Four or the Birmingham Six were accused of doing. Resulting in the deaths of 280 innocent people, it was far and away the most serious act of terrorism in our history. So, what if Megrahi’s appeal succeeded and it was shown that yet again the security forces and the judges had got it wrong – and this at a time when the Government is trying to introduce more and more draconian measures to deal with the supposed threat of terrorism?
Opposition to giving the police yet more powers would inevitably be boosted and the awkward question would be raised – if not Megrahi then who did it? The official hope, now that Megrahi has applied to drop his appeal, is that we can finally draw a line under Lockerbie and move on.
Take your pick…