Britain rejects talk of deal in Lockerbie bomber release

Britain on Saturday rejected any suggestion that it had struck a deal with Libya to free the Lockerbie bomber - after questions arose when Moammar Gadhafi embraced the man convicted of killing 270 people and publicly thanked British officials. Gadhafi praised Prime Minister Gordon Brown and members of the royal family by name for what he described as influencing the decision to allow the terminally ill Abdel Baset al-Megrahi to return home to die. Thousands greeted Megrahi at the airport as he arrived in Tripoli after being freed Thursday from a Scottish prison. But British officials insisted they did not tell Scottish justice officials what to do - and in any case, they could not, because the decision was not theirs' to make. "The idea that the British government and the Libyan government would sit down and somehow barter over the freedom or the life of this Libyan prisoner and make it form part of some business deal .... it's not only wrong, it's completely implausible and actually quite offensive," Business Secretary Peter Mandelson told reporters in London.