By J. Taylor Rushing - 07/21/10 01:08 AM EDT
Four Democratic senators emerged from a 45-minute meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron Tuesday insisting Cameron has not ruled out a full investigation into the release of the man convicted for the Lockerbie bombing.
Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) met with Cameron at the British embassy.
Cameron spent the day resisting calls from lawmakers for a full inquiry into the role BP may have played in the Scottish government's decision to release al-Megrahi after his conviction for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.
But Schumer insisted Cameron hadn’t ruled out a full investigation during the evening meeting.
“The best news we got is that our requests for an independent investigation — not just a look at the papers — is still on the table,” Schumer told reporters outside the embassy. “We want to look at all of the facts, and we want to go beyond a document review.”
At a press conference with President Obama and afterwards at the Capitol, Cameron said publicly he endorsed a "document review" to probe BP's involvement.
He also re-stated his opposition to a full investigation.
“I'm not currently minded that we need to have a U.K.-based inquiry on this, partly for this reason: I don't need an inquiry to tell me what was a bad decision,” he said at a press conference.
The senators said Cameron told them that he personally believed the document review wouldn't show anything new, but that it would allow time and prevent any "precipitous" decisions. The prime minister also expressed concern that BP's culpability in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has turned U.S. public opinion against the company.
Menendez said he told Cameron he “appreciated” those sentiments, but that “it shouldn’t be ‘case closed.’” Cameron's response to Menendez, according to the senator, was, “It's not ‘case closed.’”
British reporters outside the embassy questioned the senators, occasionally tensely, for “evidence” that the British government has acted dishonestly in the case. The senators insisted they were not maintaining that British or Scottish officials were dishonest but that there was “strong circumstantial evidence” that “something wrong happened.”
The New York and New Jersey senators have said they want to uncover whether al-Megrahi's release was intended to secure oil deals in Libya for BP. Both British officials and BP have denied that charge.
“We're not saying they're lying, we're saying there's plenty here to ask questions about,” said Menendez. “What gave rise to this mistake?”
A total of 243 passengers died in the bombing of Pan Am 103 on Dec. 21, 1988. One hundred and eighty-nine of those were Americans, with a large bulk of the victims coming from New York and New Jersey.