Scottish PR expert slams 'media hysteria' over Lockerbie bomber story

A Scottish PR expert and former newspaper editor has played-down the media hysteria surrounding the controversial release of the Lockerbie bomber last week.

Under fire: Holyrood, home of Scottish parliament
Under fire: Holyrood, home of Scottish parliament

The former editor of The Sun in Scotland and chairman of Media House International Jack Irvine said: ‘We need to get this into perspective. Opposition parties are claiming that this is the most cataclysmic event ever to have happened to the new Scotland and we are led to believe that the US media are going potty. However, by Saturday it was way down US editorial schedules and I predict it will soon be forgotten. Americans have short attention spans.'

The Scottish Government has come under fire after releasing Lockerbie bomber Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi back to Libya on compassionate grounds. The story has continued to dominate the press over the weekend and features on most of today's national papers' front pages.

Scottish parliament is today being recalled to allow Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to explain al-Megrahi's release.

‘The SNP can now show that under the current law governing terminally ill prisoners, Kenny MacAskill had no choice but to do something or face the wrath of the European courts,' said Irvine. ‘No action was not an option.  They need to explain this rationally and rise above the media and political hysteria.'

Insight Public Affairs account director Amanda Stuart said: ‘I think it shows that Scotland is naive and should have secured stronger support from Libya before releasing him. Scotland should now highlight its compassionate stance. It will have to weather the storm and try to get assurance that al-Megrahi will not be part of the 40 yrs celebrations.'

Wolfstar MD Stuart Bruce added that the Scottish government's main mistake was a lack of communication. 'The lack of clarity before his release contributed to the rumours and speculation that are circulating. The various ‘conspiracy' theories might not have developed so quickly had the Scottish government been more forthcoming.'

However, Bruce said the damage to Scotland's reputation is not irretrievable. ‘The Scottish Government can't afford to ignore the US media and must put lots of emphasis onto talking to broadcasters and news agencies from other European countries,' said Bruce.

Click here for survey results which find the public believes the Lockerbie bomber's release will damage the SNP's reputation.

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