Lord Empey: Our meeting with Boris Johnson was best we have had with a minister in the campaign for Libya-IRA victims

The aftermath of the Canary Wharf IRA bomb, which used Libyan semtex
The aftermath of the Canary Wharf IRA bomb, which used Libyan semtex

A cross-party delegation from the Parliamentary Support Group, let by Andrew Rosindell MP, yesterday met with the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson MP, to discuss how the government could help the victims of Libyan sponsored terrorism.

The Parliamentary Support Group asked the Foreign Secretary to look at setting up a task force to look into these matters urgently.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson leaving Downing Street, London, this week following a Cabinet meeting. In other business this week, he met a delegation from the Parliamentary Support Group. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson leaving Downing Street, London, this week following a Cabinet meeting. In other business this week, he met a delegation from the Parliamentary Support Group. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

I have been involved in this campaign for some time now, and I am pleased to say it was the most positive meeting yet with a government minister.

Boris Johnson was well briefed and clearly realised that successive governments have not adequately addressed the issue over the years.

The British ambassador to Libya, Mr Peter Millett, was also present as was the Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt MP.

Ideas were discussed as to how this deadlock could be broken and resources directed towards long suffering victims.

Lord Empey, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party

Lord Empey, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party

The foreign secretary was asked why the Americans had got money for their victims while Britain had got nothing?

The response was that the United States had introduced a waiver that prevented Libya being sued in the US courts, whereas the United Kingdom had not.

The question was also asked, had Tony Blair done a deal with Gadaffi that placed the interests of some oil companies over the interests of the victims?

The question of individual claims and resources that could be spent on communities was also discussed, with mental health featuring heavily.

We will soon know if Her Majesty’s Government is going to take a different line than that it has taken up until now.

On 27th October my Private Members Bill, the Asset Freezing (Compensation) Bill, will be having its Second Reading in the House of Lords.

The government’s response is eagerly awaited.

It is long past time these victims received a measure of justice.

• Lord Empey is a former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party