It follows the Foreign Office’s bombshell decision not to publish a 90-report making recommendations on compensating thousands of families scarred by IRA attacks using Libyan-supplied weapons, particularly Semtex plastic explosives. The report’s author William Shawcross, appointed Special Representative on UK victims of Gaddafi-sponsored IRA terrorism, made six key recommendations which will also not see the light of day.
Last week FCDO sources confirmed that that £11bn belonging to the dictator and languishing in UK banks belonged to the Libyan people and could only be unfrozen when the country, riven by civil air, was stable.
They acknowledged that taxes, thought to now amount to £25 million, had been diverted by HMRC to the NHS and other areas.
However, minister for the Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly ruled out using public funds to pay compensation, saying the responsibility lies with Libya.
“The moral, and honourable thing would be to use these taxes to help take away some of the main and suffering victims are still going through. And it is a choice by the Government that is preventing this from happening,” said Jonathan Ganesh, of the Docklands Victims Association which represents 170 families affected by the Gaddafi-funded terror attack on South Quay in 1996.
The 3,000lb truck bomb, which used Libyan Semtex, killed two and injured more than 100, some permanently.
“We’ve been battling for justice for 14 years. – 43 Docklands victims have died over the last seven years alone, some who committed suicide. Others are severely injured. They desperately need help.
“The honourable thing would be to compensate those who have been left severely maimed and disabled. How long can we wait before more die?”
Last night Simon Hoare MP, chair of the Northern Ireland select committee, said the government must reconsider using the taxes if it cannot legally unfreeze the funds next year.
“Using these taxes can and should be done, but only as a last resort,” he said.
“The first task is to attribute blame. It was the IRA and their friends in the Gaddafi regime who were responsible. We must not let them off the hook.”
He said Libya might be sufficiently stable in use 12 months time for the funds to be unfrozen.
“Libya wants to see these funds unfrozen,’ he said.
“We could frustrate this unless and until the Libyan authorities come up with a figure for compensation as they did with the US, France and Germany.
“Libya will have elections in December, and it has appointed a new foreign minister. So we may be looking towards this time next year.”
But Libya expert Prof George Joffe, of Cambridge University, was more sceptical.
“I am not convinced at this state that the authorities in the east are really prepared to endorse it and lose their status.” he said.
“More importantly, there are now two foreign players on the scene – Russia in the East and Turkey in the West. They both have an interest in mailing their position in the parts of Libya they now control.”