Is Mandy playing with words on his trade-deal denial?

Is Mandy playing with words on his trade-deal denial?

What are we to make of his Megrahi response?

One of the headlines on Radio 4’s 1300 news was a denial by trade secretary, Peter Mandelson, that there was any link between the release of the Lockerbie bomber and British trade deals with Libya.

His actual words did not actually say that. For he said that any suggestions that the release had been in return for trade deals were “offensive“.

Now that is is not a denial. It’s a smart response designed to make the questioner feel ill at ease but it does not answer the point. Given Mandelson’s form in this area I take everything he says, particularly when the issue could embarrass the government, with a huge pinch of salt.

In fact one could be forgiven for taking “offensive” response as confirmation.

UPDATE: This is from the latest BBC Online report:

The Foreign Office has strongly denied claims the decision was linked to a trade deal between the UK and Libya. Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said the allegation was “wrong, completely implausible and… quite offensive”.

Colonel Gaddafi’s son, Seif al-Islam, had told Libyan TV Megrahi’s case was raised during talks over oil and gas.

Mr Brown has so far made no comment about the release, although it has emerged he wrote to Col Gaddafi to ask that Libya “act with sensitivity” in welcoming Megrahi back to the country.

Mike Smithson

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