The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee criticised successive governments for leaving UK victims of Libya-IRA terrorism to fight for compensation on their own.
The committee found that the US, Germany and France all secured comparable levels of compensation for citizens caught up in Libyan-linked terror attacks, but that “the UK government has not done so, instead leaving the matter for victims themselves to resolve”.
The report found that Tony Blair’s government missed a vital opportunity to secure compensation when Libya was seeking a rapprochement with the west.
The exclusion of UK victims of Gaddafi-sponsored terrorism from the terms of the US-Libya Claims Settlement Agreement in 2008 was another “missed opportunity” by the UK, but it was not clear if Mr Blair’s influence after leaving office could have made a material difference – victims had claimed he helped exclude UK citizens from the deal.
MPs contrasted efforts made by Omagh bomb civil action lawyers, McCue & Co, with that of UK governments. “The fact that lawyers acting on behalf the UK victims were able to have the then chairman of the National Transitional Council of Libya sign a statement in support of providing compensation early in 2011, suggests to us that, if the coalition government itself had taken up this issue at that time, it would have had a good chance of reaching an agreement,” their report said.
Kenny Donaldson, spokesman for Innocent Victims United, expressed surprise at “the relatively tame language” used to describe the actions of Mr Blair and others, however he welcomed the recommendation that if a UK-Libya deal looks unlikely by the end of 2017, then the UK “must act” and set up its own fund.
Lawyers behind the ground-breaking Omagh bomb civil action have welcomed findings about UK trade interests in Libya from the committee’s inquiry.
McCue & Partners also began the civil action for compensation which resulted in the MPs’ Libya-IRA report.
Senior partner Jason McCue said: “Its conclusions are damning, including that [government] was too focused on pursuing business opportunities, rather than making sure that UK victims of terrorism were properly looked after.”
Managing partner Matt Jury added: “While the US, France and Germany all secured just reparations for their victims of Libyan terrorism, we have sat on the sidelines not wanting to rock the boat for fear of British trade in oil and arms losing out.
“Profit has been put over principle time and time again and this has to end. Victims have suffered long enough.”