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Straw's comments stoke Lockerbie trade row

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Straw's comments stoke Lockerbie trade row

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Suspicions that business interests were involved in the decision to free the terminally-ill Lockerbie bomber have been stoked by a British minister’s remarks.

Speaking to the UK newspaper “The Daily Telegraph”, Justice Secretary Jack Straw admits for the first time that trade with Libya played a “very big part” in discussions about releasing Abdel Basset al-Megrahi in a prisoner transfer deal between the two countries. Straw says that decision helped improve relations and pave the way for an oil contract signed by British oil major BP. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has repeatedly said trade played no part in Britain’s stance on Megrahi’s the early release. Yesterday, BP said it had lobbied Britain’s government to speed up the prisoner accord to smooth its business ties with Tripoli but denied pressing for the Lockerbie bomber’s release. That happenned last month when Scottish authorities freed him on compassionate grounds rather than under the transfer deal.