Drive to shake up UK's terror laws for benefit of victims is launched
A campaign has begun to raise £25,000 to finance legal efforts to review the UK's terror legislation.
The aim is to improve justice for the victims and survivors of terrorism.
London-based law firm McCue & Partners is behind the initiative, acting on behalf of Northern Ireland-based group Innocent Victims United.
The group said it was seeking to raise £25,000 to bring about "much-needed and long-overdue change to the law to allow UK victims and survivors of terrorism to bring terrorists and their supporters to justice".
"Too often, the State fails, is unable or chooses not to do so," the campaigners said in a statement.
"The laws of other countries provide their victims with such essential support. It's time the UK did too."
The campaigners also claimed that the UK falls "far behind other Western countries, such as the USA and Canada, in providing adequate access to justice to UK citizens who are victims and survivors of terrorism".
And the group is aiming to make terrorist organisations and their leaders directly liable for the acts of their members.
"They are protected from the law by the very fact that they are unlawful. This perversion of justice should not be allowed to continue," they said.
Khalid Mahmood, chair of the Tackling Terrorism All-Party Parliamentary Group, is among those supporting the campaign.
"This is a vital and important project that I believe will be the first step in changing the law to provide better protection and access to justice to our country's victims of terrorism who for too long and too often have been sidelined," he said.
"A review of the existing laws, coupled with new policy recommendations, will provide the basis for essential reform. My committee and Parliament will take this forward and press for legislation that will place victims' rights front and centre of anti-terrorism law."
Innocent Victims United spokesman Kenny Donaldson claimed the current Government policies "traumatise those already hurt so badly".
"This initiative is an attempt to develop policy and amend legislation to move the Government to finally step up to the plate to support those who have borne such a heavy personal cost," he explained.
"This effort to hold the UK Government accountable around existing unacceptable policies for victims and survivors of terrorism is a very positive step. We appeal to the general public to support us in our campaign."
Matthew Jury, managing partner at McCue & Partners, said the UK should be "supporting UK victims in pursuing justice, not making it more difficult. Our Government can and must do better".
"If the law did not place so many barriers in their way, the army council of the Real IRA could have been brought to justice for Omagh; UK victims of Libyan terrorism might have received compensation, rather than being denied justice while other foreign victims received millions; and the victims of the IRA's attack on Hyde Park would not have to fight for legal aid."
The project is intended to conduct a comprehensive review of UK legislation and any current failings, make a comparative study of the laws of other countries to see if they provide more effective remedies for their victims and produce a policy paper on the issues to submit to Government.
The crowdfunding page is at https://www.crowdjustice.co.uk/case/take-down-terror/