Gaddafi-IRA compensation: UK took £17m from frozen Libyan assets

The letter-writer makes reference to recent remarks by Gordon Brown, in which the ex-Prime Minister said the Union is more in peril now than any time since it was created
The letter-writer makes reference to recent remarks by Gordon Brown, in which the ex-Prime Minister said the Union is more in peril now than any time since it was created
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The UK government has collected £17m on over £10bn of assets linked to Col Gaddafi which are frozen in the UK.

The news is likely to anger victims of Gaddafi-IRA terrorism which have been pressing Libya for compensation for some time, but have been repeatedly opposed by the government.

Garda uncover Libyan weapons shipped to the IRA at Five Fingers beach in Donegal in 1988. Two oil tanks buried in the sand contained over 100 Kalashnikov rifles, five heavy machine guns, explosives and hand grenades. Photo: Pacemaker

Garda uncover Libyan weapons shipped to the IRA at Five Fingers beach in Donegal in 1988. Two oil tanks buried in the sand contained over 100 Kalashnikov rifles, five heavy machine guns, explosives and hand grenades. Photo: Pacemaker

The information has been revealed in a report by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee which has pressed the government for months to come clean on the matter.

Victims of Gaddafi-IRA terrorism previously reacted angrily to suggestions that the UK may have been profiting from the assets privately while publicly blocking their attempts to tap the assets for compensation. Libya previously paid compensation to US, French and German victims of terror attacks it had sponsored.

The UK Government has now revealed to MPs on the committee that since the start of the 2016-17 financial year, HMRC has collected around £17 million from frozen Libyan assets. Approximately £5 million each year is collected.

The Gaddafi regime’s supply of several shipments of Semtex – a highly powerful, malleable and virtually undetectable plastic explosive – to the Provisional IRA in the mid-1980s led to a deadly campaign of bombings across the UK.

there is now a clear moral imperative for this money to be used to help victims who have suffered for far too long

Simon Hoare Chairman, NI Affairs Committee

Commenting on the revealed tax figure, Committee Chair Simon Hoare MP said: “The Government claims it has been taking a more ‘visibly proactive’ approach to securing compensation for victims, but it took my Committee to point out that the profits the Government has been accruing from frozen Libyan assets could be put to better use.

“I am glad the figure has now been revealed to us, and there is now a clear moral imperative for this money to be used to help victims who have suffered for far too long.”

In the 2015 Parliament, the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee called on the Government to establish and finance a reparations fund for victims ahead of the outcome of negotiations with Libya. The information the Government has now revealed about tax accrued from frozen Libyan assets makes it clear that money is readily available to create such a fund, he added.

READ MORE: Libya-IRA compensation: Treasury refuses to say if it is taking tax on frozen assets

Five pounds of Semtex explosive supplied by Gaddafi to the IRA: Photo: Pacemaker

Five pounds of Semtex explosive supplied by Gaddafi to the IRA: Photo: Pacemaker

READ MORE: Lawyer for Libya IRA victims hits out at ‘delays’ and ‘false narrative’

An IRA under car booby trap explosion using semtex explosive supplied by Libya to the IRA. Photo: Pacemaker.

An IRA under car booby trap explosion using semtex explosive supplied by Libya to the IRA. Photo: Pacemaker.

The wrecked nose section of the Pan-Am Boeing 747 in Lockerbie, near Dumfries in 1988, which was brought down by Libya. The bomb killed all 259 passengers and crew on board. Another 11 people died when the wreckage fell onto the Scottish town which gave the atrocity its name. Photo: PA

The wrecked nose section of the Pan-Am Boeing 747 in Lockerbie, near Dumfries in 1988, which was brought down by Libya. The bomb killed all 259 passengers and crew on board. Another 11 people died when the wreckage fell onto the Scottish town which gave the atrocity its name. Photo: PA