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Ministry of The Rt Hon Jack Straw MP

jii Sri C E Lord Chancellor and
Secretary of State for Justice
102 Petty France
London SW1H 9AJ

1’ 020 3334 3720
F 020 3334 3669
E general quenesjustice gs gov u

The Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP www.justice.gov.uk
First Minister
The Office of the First Minister
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

21 November 2008

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PRISONER TRANSFER AGREEMENT
I write further to our previous conversations
on the Megrahi case and the Prisoner
Transfer Agreement (PTA).

When we spoke on 7 th
November I advised you that the PTA was set for signatu
along with three other agreements proposed under re -

the 2007 MoU between the UK
-

and Libya. Signature of all four agreements took
place on 17 th
November, with Bill
Rammell. Minister of State at the Foreign and Comm
onwealth Office, signing on behalf
of the Government, and the Libyan Minister for Europe
, Abudulatti Obidi, on behalf of
the Libyan Authorities. A signed copy of the PTA
is attached here for your information
until this is laid before Parliament I would apprec
iate it if you could regard this as

confidential as it is subject to Parliamentary privilege.

I committed to provide you with further details of
the ratification process that is required
before the PTA can come into force. At the UK
end, we are required, under the
Ponsonby Rule, to publish the PTA as a Command
Paper and lay it. together with an
Explanatory Memorandum, before Parliament
at Westminster for a minimum of 21
sitting days. Once that period has passed, and
once Libya has completed its own
internal procedures, the PTA can be ratified,
by the exchange of instruments of
ratification with Lbya. Once ratified. the PTA will
be published again and circulated in
the Treaty Series.

It is also Government practice to send copies
of treaties that raise significant human
rights issues to the Joint Committee on Human
Rights (JCHR). together with a copy of
the Explanatory Memorandum. As this is the first PTA
to be ratified by the UK which
does not require the consent of the prisoner, the
Government is considering whether it
would be appropriate to send the JCHR a copy
of the PTA Time for consideration of a
treaty oy a Select Committee should
normally take place within the 21 sitting day
period mentioned above but it would be open
to the JCHR to ask for an extension
The Government has undertaken to respo
nd positively to requests by select
committees for extensions. provided circumsta
nces permit and the case is justified.
I therefore anticipate that the PTA will complete
its ratification process in
the New Year;
I will of course keep you and your officia
ls updated on further developments and
provide firm confirmation of date of ratification once
we have this information.
I understand that your officials have spok
en with Minister Obidi in the past few days.
post-signature. You will be aware that Libyan
concerns for Megrahi’s health and
possible return to Libya remain. I would like
to assure you that at both Ministerial and
official level we are continuing to reiterate
to the Libyans that any questions of
treatment, possible compassionate relea
se or any application to transfer under the
PTA and bail are a matter exclusively for
Scottish Ministers and Scottish Courts
respectively. In this vein I welcome the offer
of your officials to continue talking to the
Libyans about any matters in respect of this
issue.

Officials in Whitehall remain in close cont
act with your lead officials and I remain
committed to working closely with you, providing
support where necessary.

JACK STRAW