NO BOMBER RELEASE COVER-UP - PM !
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said there was "no conspiracy" leading to the release of the Lockerbie bomber.
He added there had also been "no cover-up" over the UK's dealings with the Scottish or Libyan governments.
The bomber, Libyan Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, was released last month by the Scottish government on compassionate grounds.
Mr Brown said there was "no linkage" between UK commercial interests and the decision to free Megrahi.
But he said that the UK was constantly seeking to combat international terrorism and halt nuclear proliferation - both aims which were helped by Libya's return to the international fold.
Megrahi was freed earlier this month, eight years into a life sentence imposed for his part in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in December 1988, killing 270 people.
The Scottish government, which deals with criminal justice matters in Scotland, said the decision had been made on compassionate grounds, as Megrahi has terminal cancer.
PAN AM FLIGHT 103
21 Dec 1988: Plane explodes at 31,000ft
259 people on board are killed
11 people killed on the ground in Lockerbie
Timeline: Lockerbie bombing
Read Nick Robinson's blog
But the release was opposed by the US government and Megrahi's return to Libya, amid triumphant scenes, caused widespread anger in the UK and US.
On Tuesday, Scottish officials released a report saying a Libyan official had said Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell had told them Mr Brown did not want the Lockerbie bomber to die in a Scottish prison.
Mr Rammell - and UK foreign secretary David Miliband - have since confirmed that this report was accurate.
Speaking in Birmingham, Mr Brown did not directly refer to the suggestion the Libyans had been told he did not want to see Megrahi die in a UK prison.
But he said: "There was no conspiracy, no cover-up, no double dealing, no deal on oil, no attempt to instruct Scottish ministers, no private assurances by me to [Libyan leader] Colonel Gaddafi."
He said the release of Megrahi was a matter for the Scottish government.
Mr Brown also said: "Our interest throughout has been to strengthen the coalition against international terrorism. I made it clear that for us there was never a linkage between any other issue and the Scottish government's own decision about Megrahi's future."
Conservative leader David Cameron told the BBC's Today programme on Wednesday it had been a "misjudgement" to "treat in any way with the Libyans about the future of Mr Megrahi".
He added: "This man was convicted of the largest mass murder in British history and if the conviction is in some way unsafe that should be appealed and reviewed but he was convicted of that and they shouldn't have been treating with the Libyans on that basis."
The Liberal Democrats said Mr Brown had "felt able to share his feelings with a power-crazed dictator but not with the British people" and called for all minutes of meetings between Libyan and British ministers to be released.
Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill allowed Megrahi to be freed from Greenock Prison on 20 August on compassionate grounds after rejecting his return to Libya under a prisoner transfer agreement.
Mr Brown and other UK ministers have declined to say whether they supported freeing Megrahi, stressing it was a decision for the Scottish government.
During a debate in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, Scottish ministers were accused of mishandling the decision and making a mistake of "international proportions" by opposition parties.
But Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said the details of the discussions between Libyan and British ministers about Megrahi's fate had left Labour looking "absolutely ridiculous".
Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has become the most senior Labour politician to criticise the decision to release Megrahi, saying it did not "feel right".
While stressing she had not seen all the information in the case, she told the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 that she thought Megrahi's return to Libya was "bad".
"It does not feel right to me that someone who has been convicted for an extremely serious offence be able to return, in a way in which his victims were not able to, back to Libya.
"Of course we have to be compassionate with people who are in prison and coming to the end of their lives but I am not sure I would have made the same decision."
But Ms Smith defended Gordon Brown's explanation of the government's position saying he had been "very clear" that it was a matter for the Scottish administration and that there had been no double-dealing or conspiracy.
BBC NEWS RPORT.