Libya still willing to pay victims but UK ‘refuses to ask’

The now-dead Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had armed the IRA
The now-dead Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had armed the IRA

Libya is still willing to pay compensation to victims of weaponry it supplied to the IRA – but the British government refuses to ask for the money, MPs were told on Wednesday.

The claim was made by lawyer Jason McCue speaking at an inquiry into Libya-IRA links held by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster.

Mr McCue was part of the legal team that secured the ground-breaking civil action against those responsible for the Real IRA bombing in Omagh.

In 2011, two weeks after the revolution which deposed then Libyan leader Col Gaddafi, he travelled to the country and secured a signature from the new government in which it agreed to compensate 150 IRA victims for damages inflicted by Semtex and other weapons Gaddafi supplied to the IRA.

He said that the Libyan government said it was still willing to fulfil the contract it signed with him.

However Libyan officials had assured him that the UK government had never asked them to fulfil their promises.

“The agreement is still live,” Mr McCue told MPs.

“But the Libyans have told us repeated times that the UK government has not raised it.”

The UK government has also frozen assets belonging to Gaddafi in the UK but refuses to disclose their value.

However Mr McCue has discovered from other sources that they value some £900m.

The UK government has also insisted that it cannot dip into these assets to compensate Gaddafi’s UK victims.

However Mr McCue told MPs that there were a string of precedents under international law which proved it was viable.

One thing was clear, Mr McCue told MPs; although there were plenty of precedents in international law for one state compensating members of another state, this had never been achieved without the government of the victims pressing for justice.

Although a special unit was set up in the Foreign Office to help victims secure compensation in 2011, Mr McCue and victims said it had failed to give legal advice, interpretation services or foreign travel advice or support.