Megrahi off the agenda

A CONTROVERSIAL motion to last night’s East Renfrewshire council meeting has been withdrawn.

Councillor Gordon McCaskill previously submitted a proposal for the Scottish government to seek the recall of prisoner Abelbasset Mohammed Al-Megrahi.

However, after describing East Ren as the “lead and enforcing authority exercising the parole conditions of the aforesaid prisoner” rather than the “monitoring authority”, Mr McCaskill deemed his proposal to recall the Libyan as null and void.

He did confirm that the motion will be re-submitted with the correct wording at a later date.

The councillor for Netherlee, Stamperland and Williamwood told The Extra: “Libya is virtually in civil war, there is no legally instituted authority in the country.

“If he died, what guarantee would we have that was the case other than the word of war criminals”?

Councillor Ian McAlpine dismissed the motion as being “just a political point Mr McCaskill is making to serve his election campaign in Paisley”.

“I have every confidence in the council’s close monitoring of the situation”.

Because Mr Megrahi’s family resided in East Renfrewshire while he was in a Scottish prison, this is the only Scottish address for him and on his release it fell to ERC as the local criminal justice authority to monitor him based on the conditions of his release licence.

A council spokesman said: “We are in direct contact with Mr Megrahi to ensure that he is complying with the conditions of his licence.

“There has been no interruption to our contact and we have received all of the medical reports we would have expected to have received by now”.

A Scottish government spokesperson said: “As East Renfrewshire council has made clear, there has been no breach of licence conditions, and therefore the issue of recall does not arise”.

Conservative and Labour councillors were also at odds over the issue of election posters. Councillor Jim Swift submitted a motion that “East Renfrewshire agree there would be advantage in disallowing posters from council-owned street furniture for the coming Holyrood election and AV referendum campaign and as such is taking the decision to ban them”.

But Labour councillors are staunch defenders of that method of electioneering.

Councillor McAlpine said: “Posters generate awareness, excitement and help get people involved and I fully support maintaining the current arrangement”.

There will be no rest for councillors as the meeting of the education committee will be held tomorrow at 10am.

On the agenda is a report by education director John Wilson about proposed changes to placing requests for St Ninian’s.