PRESTWICK Airport is many things but an integral part of the Pentagon war machine or the Trump empire it isn’t. It doesn’t have its troubles to seek, though, as passengers and flights have reduced which is why recent comments from some Scottish politicians and London press were harmful to say the least.

The airport is in a great location but more importantly it's the site of outstanding and highly prized engineering skills. Yet the area has also suffered badly from the loss of such jobs. Preserving those key roles has accordingly become ever more important and the Scottish Government stepping in to stop the airport's closure was essential.

Now, simply because there are jobs at stake doesn’t mean that questions shouldn’t be asked. But, the allegations that have been made are a reheat of “cauld kale” on rendition, allied to dubious aspersions about visiting relevant and legitimate trade fairs.

Accusations about American rendition flights are also longstanding and have been fully investigated by the Crown and Scottish Police after the issue was raised by Amnesty International. There’s just no evidence that it happened and I know that from speaking to the Lord Advocate and senior officers involved. Had there been, action would have been taken but there wasn’t and the investigations conducted were fulsome.

Of course, it doesn’t mean that rendition flights didn’t happen as the US were rendering prisoners around the globe, as the UK Government well knew. The organisation Reprieve, as well as Amnesty, have documented that and I’ve spoken to them. It’s clear that the UK was being used as a refuelling stop to take prisoners to and from America and the Middle East, as well as to secret prisons in Eastern Europe. Indeed, it’s even been suggested that Wick may have been the refuelling stop rather than Prestwick.

Unfortunately, the information on a flight manifest is very limited and working out whether it’s a legitimate corporate jet or a rendition flight is impossible to detect. Boarding it simply on a whim would be unacceptable. The information now available has come about through tracking the CIA planes and working out the routes taken. That information wasn’t available to those on the ground whether in Wick or Prestwick at the time and no blame attaches to them whatsoever.

But the attacks were harmful to a business that’s fragile and needs support. The hostility of the Greens towards aviation is well known but, whilst I recognise that steps need to be taken on climate control and on flights themselves, the sector’s here to stay and being at the forefront of technology is essential. The criticisms were both lacking in substance and solutions for the troubled airport.

But, the unbridled hypocrisy of Labour members and their press supporters was quite breath-taking. Unsubstantiated accusations were levelled about rendition and allusions were made to being part of the American military orbit. Yet, it’s up the road at the Holy Loch where the real base of American firepower rests. The American navy may have gone but it's their technology and they who ultimately control the Trident missiles, and Labour who supports that.

On rendition it was Tony Blair in 2004 who did a deal in the desert with Col Gaddafi the consequences of which wasn’t just a multi-million-pound trade deal for an oil company but the rendition of prisoners to Libya. MI6 were complicit in it and it was fully documented in a Human Rights Watch Report, Delivered into Enemy Hands. Some prisoners died in custody on their return to a land from which they’d fled, another was rendered along with his pregnant wife. The latter case and the actions of MI6 have resulted in legal action against the UK and Jack Straw.

The spurious allegations about Prestwick will pass but still the problems remain. The late Gordon Wilson once remarked that Glasgow and Prestwick went to war to become the UK's second airport and the winner was Manchester. Flippant but as always some truth in it.

Almost 30 years ago I recall taking my late mother for a flight to Canada which when it departed saw me hanging around the concourse before visiting a friend in Irvine. With no further flights for hours, it was more akin to the “Marie Celeste” than an international airport, as staff scurried away and even the shops were left empty.

Flights may be limited and Edinburgh and Glasgow Airports are booming but other work remains and that’s where it's important. Whether in aviation engineering or even space technology, every effort must be made to find work for its skilled engineers. That includes attending trade fairs to seek business. It’s out there and it’ll be found but it’s not helped by politicians focusing on past fables rather than supporting a vibrant future.