- Pressure must be maintained on HMG over Libyan compensation
- Astonishing failure of Government to secure money
Ulster Unionist Peer, Lord Empey said:
“The answer that I received to my question I had submitted to the Foreign Office at least shows that the issue of compensation from Libya is on Boris Johnson's agenda. The support group in Parliament that aims to help the victims is hoping to meet the Foreign Secretary in the autumn to press him further.
“Pressure must be maintained inside and outside Parliament if real progress is to be made in the struggle to obtain justice for those UK citizens who have suffered as a result of Libyan supplied weapons to the IRA.
“Col Gadaffi waged a proxy war against the UK for years, both by supplying bomb making materials, such as semtex, and making available finance and training to the Provisional IRA.
“The thing that is astonishing in all of this is the failure of the UK Government to lift a finger over the years to get compensation for the individual victims - both civilian and military - but also for the UK taxpayer who had to fund compensation and related matters running into billions of pounds.
“The recent report by the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee shines a light on these failures. In particular, I listened to former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw give evidence to the committee and it was clear from that evidence that HMG did nothing to get compensation in sharp contrast to other Governments such as the US, French and German administrations.
“There is a widespread suspicion that the Government has turned a blind eye to this following whatever deal Tony Blair did with Gadaffi.
“The other lesson that victims’ campaigners must learn is to have persistence and patience. Overturning Government policy that has been implemented for years is not easy but being persistent does pay dividends in the end.
“My Asset Freezing (Compensation) Bill, which was introduced in the House of Lords in July will have its Second Reading on 27th October. This Bill aims to give the Government power to get access to some of the £9.5 Billion of Libyan assets frozen in London.
“This Bill provides a platform to ensure the issue continues to be on the Parliamentary agenda. Last year I had a similar Bill before Parliament, but it ran out of time due to the General Election and obstruction from the Government. I hope that this time, with a two-year Parliamentary Session, the Government will have second thoughts and seriously address this long running scandal.”
Lord Empey’s Written Parliamentary Question to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with their response:
Her Majesty's Government when they last held discussions with the government of Libya about compensation for UK victims of weapons supplied by Colonel Gaddafi to the IRA; and what was the outcome of those discussions. (HL1133)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:
The Foreign Secretary raised the issue of compensation for the victims of Qadhafi-sponsored IRA terrorism during his meeting with Prime Minister Serraj in Tripoli on 4 May 2017. He emphasised again the importance the UK places on this issue and encouraged the Libyan authorities to engage with UK victims' groups and their representatives. Prime Minister Serraj expressed sympathy with those who had suffered from the previous regime, but it was also clear from his discussion with the Foreign Secretary that the Libyan Government continues to face numerous challenges and that progress on the issue of compensation is likely to remain slow. We continue to make clear to the Libyan authorities that this is a priority issue for the UK.