MPs: Government must pay all Libya-IRA terror victims

If still prime minister after the election Theresa May faces a recommendation to quickly resolve compensation for victims of Gaddafi-IRA terrorism
If still prime minister after the election Theresa May faces a recommendation to quickly resolve compensation for victims of Gaddafi-IRA terrorism

The government must set up a fund for victims of Libyan-sponsored IRA terrorism if a deal with Libya looks unlikely at the end of this year, a Parliamentary committee has said.

Libyan officials previously detailed millions of pounds and 120 tonnes of weaponry the late Libyan dictator Col Gaddafi provided to the IRA during the Troubles. Some £9.5bn of assets linked to his regime are currently frozen in the UK.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee today publishes its report on the government’s failure to provide proper support to UK victims of Libyan-IRA terrorism; substantial settlements have previously been won by the US, France and Germany for its citizens.

Committee chair Laurence Robertson said: “First and foremost, we must pay tribute to those who have suffered for so long and campaigned so bravely as a result of these horrific acts.

“As one of our witnesses, told us: ‘We are the forgotten ones … the ones who for reasons utterly beyond my comprehension, successive governments have chosen to overlook’.”

UK governments cannot allow a litany of missed chances to continue, he said. “There needs to be direct dialogue with the Libyan government, and if the situation there makes this impossible, the government must begin the process of establishing a fund themselves.”

The government should set up the fund ahead of Libyan talks if it is clear by the end of 2017 that successful negotiations are unlikely by the medium term. The money would be used for community projects and individuals, as one-off payment or as a pension.

Stephen Gault, who lost his father and was injured in the 1987 Poppy Day bomb, has been campaigning for Libyan compensation since 2006.

The UK did trade deals with Libya for oil instead of seeking compensation for victims, he said.

“Hopefully this long hard campaign might be near the end and victims can finally get what they deserve,” he added.

Ms Susanne Dodd, whose father Metropolitan Police inspector Stephen Dodd was killed in the Harrods IRA bomb of 1983, said: “I’m sorry, but I’m disgusted with our government.

“Even the current prime minister refused to meet a delegation of IRA victims. We know now with no doubt whatsoever from the committee’s report that citizens injured or killed in the Harrods attack having US citizenship received compensation from Libya as their government fought for them.

“The US government held Gaddafi to account, our government disgraced themselves.”

The compensation would encompass “all UK victims” of Gaddafi-IRA terrorism and not just the 152 people gathered by victims’ campaigner Willie Frazer for an initial writ, MPs said.

If paid at previous rates accepted by Libya, it is understood this could reach £9.5bn for 3,500 victims.

Docklands Victims Association president Jonathan Ganesh said the lack of government concern for victims “disgraced our entire nation”.

The MPs’ report confirmed his view that all the Gaddafi-IRA victims were “continually abandoned by the UK government”.

Mr Ganesh, who was severely injured by the 1996 IRA Canary Wharf bomb, now hopes whichever government is elected in June “will rectify this moral injustice”.

Mr Farid Berezag, whose father Zaoui Berezag was left severely disabled by the same bomb, was angered by the report.

“Dad was left paralysed, blind and brain damaged,” he said. “He is still suffering. It had a terrible effect on my family. My mother, after 20 years caring for him, passed away at age 58 last year. I’m sure this took a lot out of her.

“She tried so hard and campaigned to get help for all those left disabled by Gaddafi’s Semtex. She had more courage and kindness than our government.”

READ MORE: Unlike other states, the UK lefts its victims to fight alone, MPs conclude.

MORNING VIEW: The abject failure to secure compensation for Libya-IRA-victims