Libya-IRA terror: Claims that investments in UK settled compensation for victims rejected

A lawyer who helped spearhead the landmark litigation for damages against the Omagh bombers has flatly rejected claims by Libya that it made major investments in the UK as part of a deal which settled compensation claims from victims of Libyan-IRA terrorism.

Libyan dictator Col Gaddafi supplied vast amounts of weaponry and Semtex to the IRA during the Troubles and victims of the weaponry are seeking compensation in line with what Libya has already given to French, German and US victims.

Former prime minister Tony Blair meeting Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi at his desert base outside Sirte, south of Tripoli in May 2007

Former prime minister Tony Blair meeting Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi at his desert base outside Sirte, south of Tripoli in May 2007

Semtex was used in many IRA bomb attacks including including Harrods in 1983, the Poppy Day Bombing in Enniskillen in 1987, Warrington in 1993, and London’s Docklands in 1996.

In recent weeks Jonathan Ganesh, president of the Docklands Victims Association and a survivor of the 1996 IRA Canary Wharf bomb, said assurances on compensation given to him by former Libyan ambassador Mahmud Mohammed Nacua are now being broken.

The Libyan Embassy in London declined to address Mr Ganesh’s comments but instead provided a statement from the Libyan Presidency council of the Government of National Accord. It said that “the file of the relationship of the former Libyan regime with the IRA has already been addressed between the two governments”. The council added that Libya has “cooperated with the British government to close this file ... that was the base of great variable Libyan investments existed in Britain”.

The Libyan embassy said it was unable to clarify what the investments were that it made in the UK. The UK’s Department of International Trade also said Libya could not disclose the details of such investments as this would be “commercially sensitive” information.

An inquiry to former prime minister Tony Blair also drew a blank: “We have no knowledge of what they’re talking about,” a spokeswoman said.

Last year MPs on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee published a report on the compensation issue, noting that Mr Blair’s visits to meet Col Gaddafi in 2004 and 2007 roughly coincided with an announcement that Shell had signed a £550 million gas rights deal with Libya and BP resuming investment in the country.

But lawyer Jason McCue, of McCue & Partners, who helped spearhead the action for damages from the Omagh bombers and is acting for Libyan-IRA victims, insisted that the country has not made any specific payments to his clients.

“They are silent because the figure is zero and zero does not add up to equal the rhetoric behind their reasons for not paying our victims what is due,” he told the News Letter.