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Government has been evasive on Libyan assets – Lord Empey

Ulster Unionist Peer, Lord Empey, has called on the UK Government to act now to ensure that victims of Gadaffi sponsored IRA terror are finally fairly compensated.

Lord Empey said:

“A glance at a letter received from HM Treasury in January tells us that the Government was being evasive about revenue it received from frozen Libyan assets. The Economic Secretary, John Glen MP, in reply to the NI Affairs Select Committee had been asked about tax received. While he admitted that taxable gains could lead to tax being paid, he did not take the opportunity to let Parliament know that there was an income stream and accumulated gains amounting to £17m.

“I have to say that this evasion, because that is what it amounts to, is typical of the Government's approach to the Libyan issue all along. It has all been about concealment. When I first brought my Asset Freezing Compensation Bill to Parliament in 2016, I and others had meetings with officials from the Foreign Office and the Treasury. They told us what they could not do but said little about what they could do. At no stage did they tell us that there was an income stream coming from the assets. Had we known that then, I would not have had to bring my Bill to Parliament a second time, which I did last year.          

“Now that we know there is money there, flowing from these assets, how on earth can the Government resist the calls that are being made from across Parliament for this matter to be resolved, and a fund established to assist the victims of Gadaffi supplied semtex?

“Many of us who have been pursuing this issue to many years have always believed that there was something fishy about how London has dealt with this issue, especially when compared with the attitude and determination of other countries, such as the US, France and Germany to get justice for their citizens.

“Was there a deal done in Gadaffi's tent with Tony Blair that meant that the UK was letting him off the hook?

“When one reads stories about how other countries may be allowing frozen Libyan assets to be taken or otherwise disposed of, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Belgium, it adds to the feeling of injustice that the victims are experiencing at present. It should not be happening like this. Its outrageous.

“I am calling on the Foreign Secretary to persuade his Cabinet colleagues to act now to ensure that victims of Gadaffi get treated properly by their own government, in line with other democratic countries who have delivered for their citizens.”

 

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