The BMJ again, earlier this month:
“..In case, like me, you find this depressing, there is hope and reconciliation to be found in the personal view from Jim Swire. He has followed with great personal interest the conviction, illness, and repatriation of the “Lockerbie bomber”—his daughter Flora was killed in the bombing. Now a retired GP, he welcomes the improvement in Al-Megrahi’s health and says we should be proud of the doctors who supported his compassionate release..”
That was the view of the editor. It is not the view of The Knife.
Flora’s father Jim is a retired GP. He is obviously a decent man, but here is what he wrote:
“..MacAskill had taken the advice of the prison medical service in Greenock prison, which in turn had called in two Scottish consultants; and he was also advised by a prominent professor of oncology. This oncologist was apparently accompanied by two other, English, doctors. I understand that all doctors involved conferred before advising MacAskill that a likely prognosis for Al-Megrahi was about three months.
But two major changes have taken place since then. Firstly, Al-Megrahi has been returned to his own country and is with his own loving family. We know that a major reduction in stress will sometimes induce a major remission, even in a terrible progressive illness such as his.
Secondly, he has undergone a course of treatment in Tripoli with one of the taxol series of drugs, together with palliative radiotherapy. These can be associated with remissions of many months. Presumably they had not been given in Scotland, for some reason.
Now that he has survived for seven months, allegations are appearing in the media that this man’s illness was fabricated or at least exaggerated for some political or economic motive and that the doctors must have been “bought.”
My own medical knowledge of the case is confined to meeting Al-Megrahi in prison and observing his physical decline and is without any professional involvement, except for discussion with the oncologist. Nevertheless I wish to support the advice that my distinguished medical colleagues gave to MacAskill. BMJ readers will be able to confirm that the two major changes in Al-Megrahi’s circumstances might well explain the dramatic and welcome improvement in his condition.”
It is sad, although perhaps admirable in a perverse way, that it has come to this. Cancers do not go into remission because someone has been given a “boost”, and the claim about certain drugs, that “presumably they had not been given in Scotland, for some reason..” is justification after the fact.
No doubt Fat Eck, MacAskill, Jack “Man of” Straw, Gordon etc will be very pleased that Dr Swire has written this tosh. Let us be honest though, Megrahi was let out to kickstart business deals with Libya, by some of the most venal and stupid politicians that we have ever had the misfortune to be ruled by.
Medical professionals have many reasons to justifiably claim to be exemplars of compassion in an often cruel world, but this cynical exercise is not one of them.