Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Peter's Latest Friend: Mandelson Met Gaddafi Son during Corfu Villa Stay

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Peter's Latest Friend: Mandelson Met Gaddafi Son during Corfu Villa Stay

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicholas Cecil Chief Political Correspondent

LORD Mandelson was hit by fresh controversy today after meeting Colonel Gaddafi's son while on holiday in Corfu.

The Business Secretary and Seif alIslam Gaddafi talked briefly about the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali alMegrahi as speculation grew earlier this month that he could be freed from a Scottish jail.

The discussion took place while both men were guests at the Rothschild family's villa on the Greek island.

Lord Mandelson had a spectacular falling out with shadow chancellor George Osborne last summer after it emerged that they had both accepted hospitality on board Russian aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska's [pounds sterling]60 million yacht moored off Corfu.

The peer was accused of risking a conflict of interests as he was European Trade Commissioner at the time while Mr Osborne had to fend off claims that he had sought a donation for the Tories from the wealthy Russian.

Lord Mandelson and Mr Osborne were both guests of the Rothschilds last August and the peer's decision to return to Corfu has raised eyebrows at Westminster.

Lord Mandelson's spokesman played down the significance of the discussions with Mr Gaddafi.

"There was a fleeting conversation about the prisoner," he said. "Peter was completely unsighted on the subject."

Seif Gaddafi, who is expected to succeed his father as Libyan leader, appalled relatives of the 270 Lockerbie victims in a BBC interview last year when he accused some of them of being "very greedy" and of "trading with the blood of their sons and daughters".

In November, Colonel Gaddafi agreed a [pounds sterling]1.1billion compensation package for the victims of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in December 1988. The terror attack killed 259 people on the flight and 11 on the ground.

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi was jailed for life in January 2001 following an 84-day trial under Scottish law at Camp Zeist in Holland.

Shortly after Lord Mandelson met Mr Gaddafi around a fortnight ago, it was announced that the Lockerbie bomber may be freed on compassionate grounds because he has terminal cancer. …

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