BP has said that outgoing chief executive Tony Hayward will not testify at a U.S. Senate hearing examining whether the British oil giant influenced the release of the Lockerbie bomber, the office of Senator Robert Menendez said on Tuesday.
U.S. anger over the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has renewed interest in the details of the release last year by Scottish authorities of Libyan intelligence officer Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, who was convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Most of the 270 people killed in the bombing were Americans.
BP has offered to send another representative to testify at Thursday's hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to be chaired by Menendez, an aide to the senator told Reuters, without giving the BP official's name.
But in a statement issued by his office, Menendez said he would keep pushing for Hayward, who will step down as CEO in October, to appear.
It is apparently more important to BP and Mr. Hayward to focus on his multi-million dollar golden parachute than to help answer serious linger questions about whether the company advocated trading blood for oil, Menendez said in a statement.
Though it may be convenient for BP to move Mr. Hayward out of his position, it does not change the need for answers ... The bottom line is that we need to hear from BP officials at the highest levels who had significant contact with both the Libyan and British governments - by all accounts, Mr. Hayward best fits that bill.
U.S. politicians have expressed outrage at the release of Megrahi on grounds of compassion and want to know if BP played a role in the decision to aid the firm's business interests in Libya.
The Scottish government has denied it had any contact with BP before deciding to free the Libyan.
BP has said that it had expressed concerns and lobbied the British government about the slow progress in resolving a different prisoner transfer agreement with Libya in 2007.
The prisoner transfer agreement would have allowed inmates in one county to serve out their time in the other. While it could have applied to Megrahi, he ultimately was released as a result of a separate process.
(Editing by Paul Simao)