Morning View: Blair should be asked why Libya-IRA victims were 
not compensated

Former prime minister Tony Blair
Former prime minister Tony Blair

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has this year been shining a spotlight on issues of major importance to the victims of IRA terror.

In May, the parliamentary watchdog criticised the “one-sided, secretive scheme of letters” of comfort that were given to on the run (OTR) prisoners.

It recommended that OTR letters be rendered without legal effect.

Tony Blair only appeared before the hearings in that investigation after he was summoned, having declined earlier requests by letter that he appear.

Now the former prime minister needs to be called before the committee’s inquiry into compensation for victims of Libyan-sponsored IRA terror, which opened yesterday in Westminster.

During the first day, the lawyer Jason McCue cited an email leaked from Sir Vincent Kean, then ambassador to Libya, to Mr Blair which Mr McCue said was “very clear” in showing that Mr Blair was involved with President George W Bush regarding a deal with Libya to compensate US victims of Libyan terrorism.

The UK is said to have deliberately refused to have UK victims of Libya-supported IRA terror included in the US class action.

Given the way in which Mr Blair seemed so keen to stay close to President Bush during their terms in office, this is a plausible-sounding summary of events.

But it is important that he now has the opportunity to give his side of the story.

Mr Blair also has a moral duty to explain how Libya-IRA victims have been failed. Even if he does not feel such a responsibility, the committee should call him to give evidence, as it did over OTRs.

It is shameful that US, German and French victims of Libyan-sponsored terror have been compensated, when IRA victims have not been.

It is all the more alarming to hear that a British prime minister might have specifically blocked such equal treatment.