Prime Minister Gordon Brown today hit back at critics who accused him of 'double-dealing' over the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, insisting that there had been "no cover up, no double-dealing, no deal for oil." The statement comes after an attack from the Former U.S. Justice Department official David Rivkin who had said: 'This is the kind of duplicitous behaviour that most people here do not expect from Britain.'
In a surprise move, Gordon Brown has fallen back on a time honoured and trusty 'off balance-sheet' defence. This is a defence that is more commonly used in economic or financial affairs. The term OBS has traditionally been seen as a way of allowing the Government to claim that it is not heavily in debt, because any debt that there is or might be is being stored off the country's economic balance sheet.
In the case of the Megrahi release, Brown has claimed that he was 'off balance sheet' with the truth. Lawyers and academics are currently evaluating this defence to see whether it holds up to serious scrutiny, but there are some on Gordon Brown's side who are giving it serious credence.
What Brown would claim in this instance is that ever since Scotland became semi independent - or devolved - it has effectively sat off Britain's political (and diplomatic) balance sheet. It would therefore be possible for England and Scotland to come to the same conclusions over issues such as the release of the Lockerbie Bomber, lucrative oil deals etc etc. without any recourse to, or evidence of collusion.
Mr Brown said: "New Labour is about nothing if it is not about contracting out responsibility, about asset stripping truth and about privatising the 'actualité'. Let the people of Britain and indeed the rest of the world understand that New Labour is the party of double-entry honesty."
Elsewhere, the former Home Secretary J.Smith has helpfully added that the Megrahi release, "Did not feel right." This earth-shattering and insightful statement has prompted commentators to ponder whether in fact she should soon return to Government - not simply as Home Secretary but perhaps as Prime Minister, so that she can instruct the British people - and anyone else who might be interested - as to what kind of double dealing and duplicity does actually 'feel right'.