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Must politician's hands always be dirty?

By Nigel Warburton   October 2009

We still don’t know why the convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi was released to Libya this August. Perhaps we never will. There has been, however, plenty of speculation over motives in the press and political class. Was this, as al-Megrahi himself claimed, an act of compassion towards a man about to die? Was it, as others more cynically supposed, a sweetener for an oil deal in the quid pro quo of realpolitik? Or both? In any case, the British government’s 1998 promise to America that al-Megrahi would see out his sentence in Britain was broken.

The 19th-century Danish philosopher…

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