The lawyer who spearheaded the groundbreaking Omagh bomb civil action has ridiculed Jack Straw for claiming that he could not have secured compensation from Libya for IRA victims.
Last week former home secretary told a Northern Ireland Affairs Committee that the UK Government - led by Tony Blair – decided it was unlikely to succeed in a bid for compensation from Colonel Gaddafi for IRA terrorism waged with Semtex that he supplied.
Mr Straw told MPs that the dictator’s regime would have insisted republican atrocities like the Old Bailey bombing were not their direct responsibility “and that is why an overall judgment had been made...that we were not going to get very far pursuing that”.
But lawyer Jason McCue, who is now spearheading a bid for Libyan compensation for IRA victims, poured scorn on Mr Straw’s claims.
“If the former lord chancellor could not win the case – to prove Libya sponsored and armed the IRA – with an admission from Gadaffi, Government confirmation through the decommissioning process, direct forensic evidence and vast array of witnesses to the supply then perhaps it’s just as well he is a former chancellor and an ex-barrister,” the senior partner of Mr McCue & Partners told the News Letter.
His managing partner Matt Jury added that Mr Straw’s comments were “baffling”.
“For a former barrister and lord chancellor to claim that the UK courts would have any difficulty in finding the Gaddafi regime liable for the death and destruction it caused as a direct result of its arming of the IRA is baffling and simply wrong,” he said.
“So is his claim that Libya did not accept liability for its actions. It did just that when it paid compensation to US citizens killed in IRA attacks.
“The victims deserve straight answers to a simple question: Why won’t the Government support them?”
Victims campaigner Willie Frazer said American IRA victims had already sued Libya successfully.
“We actually sought out four or five Americans injured in the IRA Harrods bomb to take part in our legal action to sue Libya for compensation.” Mr Frazer said.
“The Americans in our action got £1bn from Libya but Tony Blair intervened to make sure the UK victims in the same action got nothing.
“When we went to the US to investigate, a senator told us: ‘Go home and lobby your own government – we are not your problem’.”
Libya’s dictator for decades, Colonel Gaddafi was overthrown in a bloody rebellion in 2011, and killed. Libya has been in a chaotic state since that uprising.
In 2013 the Daily Telegraph revealed that Tony Blair promised to help Gaddafi in a billion-pound legal dispute with victims.
Jonathan Ganesh, a victim of the 1996 Docklands bombing, slammed Jack Straw’s recent claim that it would be “cruel” to try to win compensation for IRA victims when it was not possible. “Does that mean it was cruel to fight against slavery or seek a cure to cancer?” he asked.