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Mandela’s Role in the Lockerbie Mediation Questioned in UK Documents’ Reveal 

Downing Street believed Nelson Mandela’s attempt to play mediator between it and the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi over the question of compensation after the Lockerbie bombing was “unlikely to be helpful”, documents reveal. But despite misgivings, No. 10 aides did not rule out using Mandela “back against [Gaddafi] if Libya rejected a reasonable offer”, the documents released by the National Archives in the UK show. Unease over Mandela’s role was expressed in a March 2001 note from one No. 10 aide to Mark Sedwill, the private secretary to the foreign secretary, which said: “Mandela evidently sees himself acting as mediator between the prime minister and Gaddafi. This is unlikely to be helpful. Might there be value in mentioning this to the South Africans, given their wider concerns about Mandela’s interventions in international issues?” At a Downing Street meeting in April 2001, the former South African leader told Tony Blair it was “wrong to hold Libya legally responsible for the Lockerbie bombing”, and against public international law, despite the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi in January 2001 after a trial in the Netherlands.