[This is the headline over a report published today on the website of the Aberdeen-based newspaper The Press and Journal. It reads in part:]
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill is to meet Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi.
Libyan authorities have applied for 57-year-old al Megrahi, who has prostate cancer, to be moved to Libya under a prisoner-transfer treaty between Libya and the UK. Ministers received “formal notification” last Friday that al Megrahi wants to meet Mr MacAskill, a Scottish Government spokesman confirmed yesterday.
The spokesman added: “As part of the process the justice secretary has met UK relatives, he has linked up by video conference to Eric Holder, the US attorney general and the US relatives.
“He has also received a delegation from the Libyan government and will now meet Mr al Megrahi.”
No decision on the prisoner transfer can be made by Mr McAskill while al Megrahi pursues a second appeal against his conviction for the 1988 bombing.
The government is also to seek medical advice as to whether al Megrahi is fit to leave Greenock Prison where he is being held. His lawyer, Tony Kelly, said yesterday: “My client would welcome a meeting so that he can have the opportunity to put his case to Mr MacAskill.”
Although the meeting might not need to be staged in the prison, the lawyer said his client is “ill and in some considerable discomfort”.
Mr Kelly also declined to comment on weekend reports that al Megrahi has handed over a signed document to the Libyan Government agreeing to drop the appeal against his conviction if Mr MacAskill allows him home to Libya. (...)
Lib Dem justice spokesman Robert Brown said the move was unprecedented.
He said: “Nothing like this seems to have happened in the case of the Great Train Robber or the Moors Murders, for example. I fail to see what possible purpose this visit will serve.”