The justice committee has decided to go ahead with an investigation into the decision by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to grant compassionate release to the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing because he was suffering from terminal cancer.

A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman confirmed Holyrood’s Justice Committee had agreed by majority to carry out a short inquiry into the case.

The convener of the committee, Bill Aitken, Tory justice spokesman, said: “This inquiry will be an opportunity for the Scottish Government to allay the concerns which many hold regarding the processes followed in the decision to release the Lockerbie bomber – irrespective of the rights and wrongs of the decision itself.”

Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott last month called for members of the Justice Committee to probe the case.

Mr Scott said then that such an inquiry would “allow us all to gain a clearer understanding of the decision-making process the Justice Secretary undertook”.

Megrahi had been serving a life sentence for murdering 270 people when Pan Am flight 103 was brought down over the Scottish town in 1988.

But the decision to free the only man convicted of the atrocity provoked an angry reaction from some quarters.

The inquiry comes as the Scottish Government welcomed an indication by the US that it was prepared to “move on” diplomatically following the release, saying it “looked forward” to a strengthening of relations.