Well, what did Brown achieve by speaking at his press conference on Megrahi’s release? Not much, it would seem. For man who has spent the last five weeks away, he looked shattered. So, the questions remain about what he knew and what has been said between the UK and Libya over the years. The toothpaste is not back in tube.
Today, other titbits of information seep out, Firstly, the police are contradicting the statement that Kenny MacAskill gave to the Scottish parliament. Secondly, we have this not-to-be-ignored piece by Irwin Stelzer in the Telegraph, where he says that the Special Relationship has been damaged. What is more, he is highly critical of Brown:
Which brings us to Brown's involvement. So long as he continues his Macavity game, it is difficult to pin down his specific role. As the poem goes, "When the Foreign Office finds a Treaty's gone astray… it's useless to investigate – Macavity's not there." In this case, Brown's culpability is too obvious to hide. He is, after all, the father of Scottish devolution. In a world in which terrorists have no regard for borders, decisions taken by those in charge of the justice system are inextricably linked to a nation's foreign policy. Even Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish justice minister, admits this is "a global issue". For the Prime Minister to have outsourced the justice system to Scottish authorities who can bring the United Kingdom into disrepute and strain relations with its allies was irresponsible. And now the United Kingdom, not merely Scotland, will pay the price in terms of damaged relations with the US.
Then there are two diplomatic events that Brown will have to navigate through:
More significant would be a refusal from Brown to attend both next week's celebration of the 40th anniversary of the coup that overthrew King Idris and brought Gaddafi to power, and the opening of the 64th session of the UN General Assembly on September 15, over which Libya's Ali Abdussalam Treki will preside as president.
If Brown was hoping that yesterday’s belated statement would put the help to close the story down, he has failed. More importantly, from his point of view, this whole affair could well overshadow and derail his strategy for the autumn.
Mandy’s words were not enough. This remains Brown’s responsibility and he should have been much more open and frank yesterday on whether he backed Megrahi’s release.