BP-Lockerbie Bomber Probe Seeks U.K. Help

BP admits it pressured the British government in 2007 to speed up a prisoner release Libya sought in order to protect its drilling deal.
BP admits it pressured the British government in 2007 to speed up a prisoner release Libya sought in order to protect its drilling deal.
CBS
When he arrived home in Libya last August, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was met with a hero's welcome.

The only man convicted in the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am 103 was released by authorities in Scotland after doctors said he was dying of prostate cancer.

The U.S. and British governments now agree al-Megrahi's release was a mistake. In a phone call Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged British Foreign Secretary William Hague to cooperate with a congressional investigation into charges that BP brokered al-Megrahi's release for drilling rights off the Libyan coast, CBS News Correspondent Bob Orr reports.

"They release al-Megrahi, and presto, automatically negotiations speed up, and the contract is finalized, and drilling is now about to start," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said.

BP admits it pressured the British government in 2007 to speed up a prisoner release Libya sought in order to protect its drilling deal.

But, in a statement, the oil company says it never specifically sought freedom for the Lockerbie bomber.

"BP was not involved in any discussions … about the release of Mr. al-Megrahi," the statement reads.

The British government says there's no evidence BP pushed for a blood money trade. Al-Megrahi was released solely on "compassionate grounds" after Scottish authorities were convinced he had just three months to live.

More on the Lockerbie Bomber

U.K. Envoy Denies BP Role in Lockerbie Release
Lockerbie Bombing Parent Outraged--Justice Swept Aside
Probe Sought Over BP Role in Bomber's Release
Sens to State Dept: Push UK on Lockerbie Bomber

Dr. Karol Sikora, a British oncologist hired by Libya, helped push that grim diagnosis.

"There was a 50 percent, a greater than 50 percent, chance, in my opinion, that he would have died within the first three months," said Sikora. "The chances of living 10 years are less than 1 percent."

The BP controversy opens old wounds for the families of the 189 Americans killed in the Lockerbie bombing. Bert Ammerman's brother Tom was among the victims.

"This is ugly," said Ammerman. "This is immoral. It's unethical. It's illegal. The fingerprints and the blood is on the hands of the United Kingdom government, the Scottish government, the American government as well as big business."

Even if BP broke no laws, this new controversy is more bad PR for the embattled oil giant, and al-Megrahi will remain free since no one can do anything about it now.