Sunday 17 November 2019

IRA victims 'betrayed' by UK in Libya legal battle

Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi
Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi

Nevin Farrell

Victims of IRA atrocities say they have been "stabbed in the back" by the UK government after being told they would get no help in their legal battle for compensation from Libya.

Almost 200 families had brought a multi-billion pound damages claim against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's Libyan regime for supplying plastic explosives to the IRA before he was ousted and killed in the Arab Spring uprising of 2011.

The dictator's Semtex was used in dozens of IRA attacks across the UK, including Enniskillen and Ballygawley in Northern Ireland and Harrods and Warrington in England.

However, as victims slammed the government snub last night fresh hope emerged when Labour leader Ed Miliband said he will pressurise the Libyans if he becomes prime minister.

A damages case was brought in the US courts but collapsed seven years ago. An email obtained by a UK newspaper showed how Tony Blair intervened on behalf of Gaddafi over the compensation claims.

It led to a deal between Libya and the US in which American victims of Libyan-sponsored terrorism received compensation but UK victims received nothing.

The UK victims have continued their campaign for damages and British Prime Minister David Cameron had promised to help. Last year, he appointed national security adviser Sir Kim Darroch to assist in what families hoped would be a concerted effort to secure compensation.

But now Sir Kim has written to victims' relatives telling them the government cannot intervene on their behalf.

Enniskillen bomb survivor Stephen Gault said: "The whole thing is rotten. The British government is rotten and we have just been stabbed in the back yet again. We thought we would have an ally in the Conservatives but that is not the case as they have let us down again."

Irish Independent

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