US senator: BP's Hayward must face Lockerbie questions
A US senator angrily pressed BP chief Tony Hayward on Thursday to make time in September to face a congressional probe into the oil giant's alleged role in the Lockerbie bomber's release.
Democratic Senator Robert Menendez slammed Hayward's comment to reporters that he had ducked a key senate panel's hearing -- indefinitely postponed from Thursday because key witnesses declined to appear -- because he was too "busy."
"It must be nice to be too 'busy' negotiating a multi-million-dollar golden parachute to ignore a US Senate hearing examining whether Mr Hayward's company traded blood for oil," Menendez said in a statement.
"Frankly, I have no sympathy about the pace of Mr Hayward's schedule, and I will formally ask him to provide a date in September that perhaps isn't so hectic," said the senator, who represents New Jersey.
Menendez complained that BP had offered to send "a lower-ranking official with no particular knowledge of the company's talks with Libya to testify" and called that "a way to avoid providing the answers we need."
And he blasted Hayward for telling reporters at the company's London headquarters this week that BP's response to the devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill had been a "model of good social corporate responsibility."
"A company that believes it is a 'model' of corporate social responsibility would agree that it is socially responsible to give full answers to the public and the victims' families," said Menendez.
Menendez had been set to chair a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on BP's alleged role in Scotland's decision last August to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, the only man convicted over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people -- most of them Americans.
Authorities freed Megrahi on compassionate grounds after being assured he was suffering from terminal cancer and had three months to live -- but nearly a year later, he is alive in his native Libya.
The Senate hearing had been set to examine whether BP had improperly lobbied for Megrahi's release to safeguard a 900-million-dollar oil exploration deal with Libya. The oil giant and British and Scottish officials have denied the charge.
© 2010 AFP