London, Sep 5 (ANI): Britain's Justice secretary Jack Straw has admitted for the first time that trade and oil deals with Libya played a very big part in the handling of the Lockerbie bomber's case.
He said trade was a major influence on his decision to include Abdelbaset Al Megrahi in a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya signed two years ago, just as BP was seeking a multi-billion pound deal there.
In January 2008, Libya ratified a $900 million (£551 million) oil deal with BP.
When asked in the interview if trade and BP were factors, Straw admits: "Yes, (it was) a very big part of that. I'm unapologetic about that... Libya was a rogue state.
"We wanted to bring it back into the fold. And yes, that included trade because trade is an essential part of it and subsequently there was the BP deal."
The admission directly contradicts Prime Minister Gordon Brown's insistence only days ago that oil deals were not a factor in Megrahi's release, The Telegraph reports.
Straw also suggested that Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Minister, released the terminally ill bomber on compassionate grounds earlier than the British Government would have done.
Brown has been accused of putting Britain's trade interests before justice for the Lockerbie victims.
Megrahi, who is suffering from prostate cancer, was freed last month by Scotland on compassionate grounds after it was said he was only months from death. Last night it emerged he has been moved out of intensive care.
Straw also claims that Brown had nothing to do with his change of heart over the prisoner transfer agreement, adding: "I certainly didn't talk to the PM. There is no paper trail to suggest he was involved at all."
A spokesman for BP said the company had raised concerns with the Government about the slow progress in concluding the PTA, but denied mentioning Megrahi. (ANI)