Belfast Telegraph

IRA victims 'stabbed in the back' over Libya compensation battle

By Nevin Farrell

Victims of IRA atrocities say they have been "stabbed in the back" by the Government after being told they would get no help in their legal battle for compensation from Libya.

Almost 200 families had brought a multi-billion-pound damages claim against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's Libyan regime for supplying plastic explosives to the IRA before he was ousted and killed in the Arab Spring uprising of 2011.

The dictator's Semtex was used in dozens of IRA attacks across the UK, including Enniskillen and Ballygawley in Northern Ireland and Harrods and Warrington in England.

However, as victims slammed the Government snub last night, fresh hope emerged when Labour leader Ed Miliband said if he became Prime Minister he would pressurise the Libyans.

A damages case was brought in the US courts but collapsed seven years ago. An email obtained by a UK newspaper showed how Tony Blair, with the knowledge of the Foreign Office, intervened on behalf of Gaddafi over the compensation claims.

It led to a deal between Libya and the US in which American victims of Libyan-sponsored terrorism received multi-million-pound payments but UK victims received nothing.

The UK victims have continued their campaign and David Cameron had promised to help. Last year, Mr Cameron appointed Sir Kim Darroch, his national security adviser, to assist in what families hoped would be a concerted effort to secure compensation.

But now Sir Kim has written to victims' relations and lawyers telling them the Government cannot intervene on their behalf.

Sir Kim wrote: "Individual compensation claims are best pursued through private campaigns. So the Government will not directly lobby for payment of specific claims."

Enniskillen Poppy Day bomb survivor Stephen Gault said: "It doesn't surprise me that the British Government has done this. Tony Blair has stabbed the back of the innocent victims yet again.

"He was part of the negotiating team when the Americans secured compensation but he did nothing. He is afraid to go against Sinn Fein and the IRA.

"The whole thing is rotten. The British Government is rotten and we have just been stabbed in the back yet again. We thought we would have an ally in the Conservatives but that is not the case as they have let us down again.

"I would feel betrayed by the British Government. It always seems they are appeasing the terrorist. This is just another nail in the coffin for victims."

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said yesterday: "I met recently with Sir Kim and I impressed upon him the importance of the Government continuing to support the victims in their quest for recognition and indeed for compensation, it is therefore disappointing to read the contents of the letter which has been issued to the victims.

"It is something we will be raising with whoever forms the next government because we have had a Labour government and a Conservative government, neither of whom have been able to help victims from across the UK who are seeking compensation from Libya."

Jonathan Ganesh, who survived the Canary Wharf bombing in London, said: "It is very disappointing. These people desperately need help. I have met many of these people. I have been to Northern Ireland several times, all different people of different religions have been affected.

"And we must remember the Americans were compensated."

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