Wednesday 17 January 2018

Victims of IRA 'should get assets of Gaddafi held in UK'

Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Gaddafi

David Young

Hundreds of millions of pounds of Colonel Gaddafi's assets held in the UK must be used to compensate victims of Libyan-sponsored IRA terrorism, MPs have been told.

At least £900m (€1.2bn) of the dead dictator's fortune has been frozen by the Government and an Act of Parliament could release it to those bereaved and injured in IRA bombs, according to a leading lawyer.

Jason McCue, who for 10 years has been attempting to extract compensation from Libya for the victims, was giving evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.

He accused former Labour prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown of putting commercial and diplomatic interests ahead of justice in their deals with the regime.

He said while the US, France and Germany had negotiated multi-million pound settlements with Gaddafi for its citizens impacted by Libyan-directed terrorism, the UK failed to lobby for similar pay-outs for IRA victims for fear of jeopardising lucrative oil and arms deals.

"What you see is a policy of arms, oil and creating a partnership with Libya, Gaddafi, which puts justice issues and victims as a complete secondary class in everything," Mr McCue told the committee.


The lawyer was giving evidence at the start of the committee's inquiry into how the Government handled the issue of compensation for UK victims of IRA bombs manufactured with Semtex provided by Gaddafi. He claimed Mr Blair prioritised a BP oil deal and a weapons agreement that would have seen Gaddafi purchase a Jernas missile defence system made by part UK-owned manufacturer MBDA, over the issue of compensation.

Mr McCue questioned the logic of this policy given the ultimate demise of Gaddafi and his regime in 2011.

"I would ask you to look at the facts now," he urged.

"Where is the Jernas £400m deal? Not happened. Where is the BP deal that was going to make 13 billion? Not happening in that country any more. Where is our special relationship with Libya? Zero.

"What have we missed? £400m to these people (the victims) who then could have been using this to recreate their lives after they were destroyed by this rogue regime. It is an incredible incompetence of positioning and strategy."

He said the current British government was refusing to act to release the frozen assets to compensate victims.

Irish Independent

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