BP Plc's ousted chief executive, Tony Hayward, will not testify to a Senate committee examining whether the oil giant influenced the release of the Lockerbie bomber, Senator Robert Menendez said on Tuesday.
BP has offered to send another representative, the head of the company's UK operations, Peter Mather, to testify at Thursday's hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to be chaired by Menendez, an aide to the senator told Reuters.
The committee has not said whether it would accept Mather as a substitute for Hayward.
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 of the airliner were Americans.
The Senate panel wants to probe any link between BP and the release of Megrahi to Libya. Menendez's aide said there was no indication Mather had been in communication with Libya about the 2007 exploration and production deal BP signed with Libya.
BP said on Tuesday that Hayward would stand down in October, to be replaced by American Bob Dudley as part of a strategy to repair the company's image following the massive environmental disaster in the Gulf.
In a statement issued by his office, Menendez said he would keep pushing for Hayward.
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(ing) 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)