It is now within the DUP’s power to ensure that £10 billion of frozen Libyan assets in the UK is used to compensate victims of Libyan sponsored IRA terrorism.
There is currently almost £10 billion of Gaddafi money frozen in the UK system.
The DUP are in a position to ensure that every penny of it is now befittingly used to pay the UK victims the compensation due to them, or use it as leverage to ensure the new Libyan government honours its agreement with them to settle their claims.
This is not just a campaign dream of the UK victims who spent years before the US courts suing Gaddafi and the Libyan state in the McDonald action, but the recommendation of a Parliamentary Inquiry, which gave HMG two stark choices: by the end of 2017, either make Libya pay or use the frozen assets to compensate the victims.
The inquiry also left HMG with an ultimatum: if you fail on either front you must compensate the victims yourselves and then seek to recoup it back from the Libyan state.
Why did the Inquiry give HMG such a hard time? Because it found that, while countries like the US, France and Germany had successfully secured compensation for their victims of Gaddafi’s terrorism, UK victims had been repeatedly let down and ignored by their government because it was too focused on business (and other) opportunities in Libya.
Worse still, the inquiry criticised HMG bungling that left the McDonald claimants out of a deal cooked up between President Bush and Gaddafi, which meant Americans in the McDonald proceedings each received millions in compensation while UK victims got nothing and their case was brought an end.
All this, and the hope given by the inquiry’s recommendation, has been a result of the McDonald claimants’ long campaign. A campaign which has made it possible for all victims of Libyan/IRA terror to seek compensation.
Let’s not forget, if the McDonald claimants had not been so let down by HMG their case would have continued, they would have been awarded damages and then a wider class of all Libya/IRA victims would have been entitled to apply for compensation as a class action attached to their case.
Moreover, the McDonald action and the resulting admission of guilt by Libya when agreeing the Bush/Gaddafi deal means that not only can we calculate the precise amount of compensation that Libya can be said to owe the McDonald claimants but also what Libya can be said to owe those that could have later joined the class action.
The DUP are now in a unique position to ensure a just conclusion is reached for all UK victims along these lines. By punishing state sponsored terrorism we deter it in the future.
This would be a strong message to send to would be state sponsors of terrorism and demonstrate the bona fides of UK counter terrorism policy.
If the DUP insists that it will only do business with a government that commits to this, justice may finally be done, over 3,000 victims of Libyan/IRA terrorism could receive justice, proper reparations and £10 billion of Gaddafi money could finally be used to do good.
Jason McCue, McCue and Partners, London. (McCue are experts in securing justice against terrorists, and were the lawyers in the successful civil action against the republican murderers at Omagh)