Lord Mandelson joins Saif Gaddafi at shooting party
Outrage at Mandy socialising so soon after Lockerbie bomber's controversial release
Labour business secretary Lord Mandelson is in the soup again over his not-so-private life and this time it is the victims of the Lockerbie tragedy who are offended. According to a report in the Spectator, Mandelson managed to attend a country house shooting party in the company of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
Mandelson and Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi were guests at Lord Rothschild's mini-Versailles in Buckinghamshire, Waddesdon Manor. Journalist and Margaret Thatcher biographer Charles Moore, writing in the Spectator, says Cherie Blair, now a country neighbour of Rothschild's, was also in attendance, although neither she nor Mandelson picked up a gun.
Opposition MPs and representatives of the Lockerbie victims' families have been quick to react to the notion of Mandy socialising with the man so closely associated with the controversial release of the convicted bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.
Conservative MP Greg Hands told the Guardian: "This extraordinary revelation, if true, raises serious questions for Peter Mandelson. Once again, he is mixing up his private associations and his public duties."
Frank Duggan, president of Victims of Pan Am 103, told the Daily Mail: "I don't think it's appropriate at all but I can't say I am very surprised. The release of Megrahi was an incredible victory for Libya and Saif Gaddafi engineered the whole thing to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Libyan revolution."
The shooting party revelation comes as Duggan and others representing the Lockerbie victims' families are increasingly concerned that they may have been duped by al-Megrahi's release on compassionate grounds.
The reason given for his release was that doctors who visited Megrahi in a Scottish jail on July 28 gave him three months to live. We are now almost a month past Megrahi's 'deadline' and there no reports from Tripoli of his demise.
As for Lord Mandelson, a spokesman said last night: "We do not offer a running commentary on Peter Mandelson's social engagements, but we can confirm that he has never taken part in a pheasant shoot and never will. He has always said he is happy to see Saif Gaddafi again if the occasion arose." ·