Diplomatic Incident Earns Allardyce 'Tartan Bollocks' Award

In the world of international diplomacy, an impression is as good as a 'nod and a wink'. So when a story emerged during the summer about Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, although both its author and the organisation rebutting the story were using the same source material – a letter – it all came down to a couple of key words.

Under the headline, 'Revealed: Document Exposes US Double-talk on Lockerbie', the Sunday Times Scotland's Jason Allardyce wrote: “Correspondence obtained by The Sunday Times reveals that Barack Obama’s administration considered compassionate release more palatable than locking up Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi in a Libyan prison.”

And while there was later mention that the United States wanted al-Megrahi to remain imprisoned, the US State Department moved swiftly to counter any impression it was advocating release, under certain circumstances.

It even made public the letter – from Richard LeBaron, deputy head of the US Embassy in London, to First Minister, Alex Salmond, sent the previous year – and earned, last night, Allardyce the title, 'Tartan Bollocks', organised annually by the Scottish Parliamentary Journalists' Association.

Usually the award – understood to be now in its 12th year – is for a political story in the Scottish press that is fundamentally wrong, rather than wrong in the impression it gives. But the intervention of the State Department clearly swung it for judge, Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator magazine, who flew up specially to present the award – at Edinburgh's Doric Tavern – albeit to an absent Allardyce who was phoned by Nelson to receive the news.

From a shortleet of six, the Sunday Post's Campbell Gunn finished runner-up, for penning, earlier this year, that al-Megrahi was at 'death's door'.

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