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David Cameron accuses Gordon Brown of "hiding behind the cloak of constitutional convention" over his refusal to voice an opinion on the release of the Lockerbie bomber

David Cameron waist upLast weekend, William Hague issued a list of questions that he wants answered by the Government over its relations and communications with Libya in the light of the release by the SNP administration in Scotland of the Lockerbie Bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi.

Now, one week after David Cameron first wrote to Gordon Brown seeking his view on the release of al-Megrahi - during which time the Prime Minister has failed to voice an opinion, save that he was "repulsed" by the scenes of the hero's welcome afforded him in Tripoli - and the Tory leader is piling on the pressure again.

In his weekly message to party activists published this morning, he highlights the main questions which Gordon Brown has failed to answer, accusing him of "hiding behind the cloak of constitutional convention":

"The real questions remain unanswered. To begin with, what dealings has his Government had with that of Libya on this issue? For our part, the Conservative Party will be putting down parliamentary questions to find out.And most importantly of all, what is Gordon Brown's opinion of the decision to return Mr al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds? I have made my view clear. I think it was wrong. I see no justice in affording mercy to someone who showed no mercy to his victims. Others have expressed similar opinions too.

"But what does the Prime Minister think? It's not good enough hiding behind the cloak of constitutional convention and saying this is a devolved matter. On a matter of international importance, which has damaged our reputation abroad and undermined relations with our foremost ally, we need to know what the Prime Minister thinks. That is a basic requirement of leadership - a quality which once again Gordon Brown has demonstrated he lacks."

I have made the point before that one of the downsides of a long parliamentary recess is that minsters escape regular scrutiny at the Despatch Box from their opposite numbers. Had al-Megrahi been released when the Commons was sitting, it is unthinkable that David Cameron wouldn't have taken Gordon Brown to task over this at PMQs. But alas the next PMQs will not take place for another 47 days.

Jonathan Isaby


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