Belfast Telegraph

The victims of Gaddafi-sponsored IRA violence

Colin Parry: His son Tim was fatally injured when two bombs placed in litter bins exploded in Warrington in March 1993

The IRA bomb which killed my 12-year-old son Tim in March 1993 was made of the Semtex supplied to the IRA by Colonel Gaddafi.

Tim sustained such serious head, face and brain injuries on the day of the bombing, March 20, that although he was not killed immediately by the bomb, his fight for life ended five days later.

Doctors in the neurosurgical unit at Walton Hospital in Liverpool, to where he had been transferred from Warrington General Hospital, declared there was no hope of survival for Tim when, on day four, the tests they conducted to establish Tim’s brain activity revealed there was none.

On Day five (March 25), my wife Wendy, our two other children, Dominic and Abigail, my father, Wendy’s parents, her sister, brother-in-law, her brother and sister-in-law all came to the hospital to spend personal time with Tim before his life support machine was switched off.

Despite being advised by the doctor in charge of Tim’s treatment that at the moment his life support machine was switched off Tim’s body might literally lift off the bed, I chose to stay with my son as he died.

As a matter of record, the doctor’s advice so terrified my wife that she could not stay with Tim in these final moments — something which she has deeply regretted ever since.

I held Tim in my arms and said my final goodbyes to him, before signalling to the nurse/attendant to switch off the machine.

Describing the final moments of your child’s life is beyond words, because, as a parent, there is no greater pain or loss than the death of your child.

As there is no realistic, early prospect of a new, stable and democratic government being formed in Libya, the UK Government should delay no longer in enacting legislation, which follows the precedent of the United States government and which I believe would have cross-party support in Parliament, to enable the British victims of IRA attacks which used Libyan-supplied Semtex to receive financial compensation on terms fully comparable to the settlements received by American victims. In my opinion, this is the only way in which we will ever receive compensation, and when you consider that so many victims of other criminal acts have long since received compensation, then it does seem that we are the forgotten ones — the ones who for reasons utterly beyond my comprehension, successive UK governments have chosen to overlook.

Furthermore, I would say that it is unforgivable on their part that they have ignored our case.

Indeed, matters are made worse when you consider that there are significant grounds for believing that previous UK governments have actually conspired to exclude British victims of IRA attacks from a fair and just settlement.

Margaret Sefton: Her parents James and Ellen were killed by a booby trap bomb attached to their car which exploded as they drove along the Ballygomartin Road in Belfast in June 1990

I can’t put into words the unimaginable loss I feel. My mum and dad were everything to me.

My dad was killed instantly and my mum died in my arms shortly after in hospital.

I am part of the legal action taken against Libya and travelled by invitation from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in September 2012 to attend a meeting regarding the victims.

I had to pay for plane tickets and hotel accommodation, and as a pensioner it was quite expensive for me. However, as I hoped it would help me gain justice for my parents, I was willing to find the money to attend.

I came away from the meeting feeling that it was an absolute waste of my time and that we had been made fools of.

I was, however, able to meet other victims from the mainland, many of whom I am still in contact with. I have realised that Jonathan Ganesh of the Docklands Victims Association also has to find considerable amounts of money to finance our campaign.

Why on earth do victims have to fight for themselves and finance it at the same time? I have been informed by our legal team, McCue & Partners, assigned to help the victims, that they have had to finance the campaign which has cost them a fortune.

Not only that but Jason McCue financed a trip to Benghazi at the height of the civil unrest to obtain a contract assuring that Libya would settle the victims on the legal writ. All we want is justice and parity with the US victims from our legal action who received closure years ago and didn’t have to do it for themselves.

I feel we have been treated disgracefully and hope that finally the injustice will be rectified.

It is very sad the victims and their families, who have no diplomatic training or international negotiating experience, have been requested by Her Majesty’s Government to somehow find a way to rectify this appalling lack of parity.

  • Taken from written evidence submitted to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

Melanie Elizabeth Louise Cubitt (nee Dodd): Her father, Inspector Stephen John Dodd, was killed in the Harrods bomb in London in December 1983

I was nine years old when my father was killed at Harrods. I remember on that day that I was excited to collect the Christmas tree with dad, and we were impatiently waiting for him to get back from work.

In the later part of the afternoon I noticed my mother and brother saying something about the news and how dad will probably be late as he was going to be busy.

The rest of the day I knew something was wrong as my brother was keeping myself and my little sister away from the TV and mum was constantly on the phone trying to find my father.

The next day I was told that he had been very badly hurt and was in hospital.

I remember from that day on everything changed. We went to my godparents’ house while my mother was at the hospital for two weeks.

We were updated that there was no change. We were not allowed to visit as his injuries were too bad.

Christmas morning, my mother told us that my father had died. It was the first time I had actually thought about death and didn’t really understand how this could all happen in a blink of an eye.

The next few weeks are a blur of visitors, the funeral, police stations and press photos.

I missed my old life so much and my father immensely and built up barriers to stop myself from getting hurt like this again.

I have been told that I rarely show my true emotion and run away from stressful situations instead of dealing with them.

Things hit me hard at the age of 11 when I developed the anxiety disorders trichotillomania and alopecia, which I still struggle with to this day. 

My mother and I have spent thousands on psychotherapy and wigs/hair pieces over the years. This has affected me terribly throughout my life and as a result I have developed confidence issues and often question my self-worth.

Despite this, I have managed to have a good career in sales account management and have worked hard to get where I am today.

My marriage ended a while ago and the stress that I felt was mirroring the lost and abandonment that I felt when I lost my father.

This made me realise that I still haven’t processed the death of my father properly.

I go into every relationship scared of losing that person and end up sabotaging it. I am back in psychotherapy at the moment. 

I missed my father terribly, especially at my wedding and at the birth of my two children, who are growing up never knowing their granddad and what a great one he would have been.

  • Taken from written evidence submitted to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

Hamida Bashir: Her son Inam was killed in the Docklands bombing in February 1996

My son was killed along with our close family friend, John Jeffries, in the London Docklands IRA terrorist attack on Friday, February 9, 1996.

The bomb, which had been placed in a large lorry directly outside Inam and John’s newspaper and confectionery kiosk, obliterated the shop and surrounding area due to the force of the explosive.

I would like to express, as I have previously stated in the media and to the Prime Minister in writing, that I will not accept or require any financial compensation for the loss of my son.

However, I have immense sympathy with all the victims of Gaddafi Semtex who have been left severely disabled such as our friend, Zaoui Berrezag. Mr Berrezag has been left severely disabled and is now blind.

I would like to respectfully inform the committee that I hold Gaddafi and the IRA equally responsible for the murder of Inam and all those killed.

Inam and John were well-known and loved by all in the community in east London.

I was overwhelmed with messages of sympathy from the local community, who are still courageously campaigning for Inam and all those who suffered due to Gaddafi Semtex.

My words are sadly not sufficient to express the tremendous pain I feel as Inam was a lovely and kind boy.

As a child he would always share his toys and sweets with the other children in school and he was a very good-hearted boy.

Every Friday he would bring home fruit for me and his dad. Sadly, my Inam did not return home on Friday, February 9, 1996.

My dear husband, Mohammed, never recovered from the loss of Inam and passed away from a broken heart within months of Inam’s murder.

I’m sorry to inform the committee that my son and all those affected by Gaddafi Semtex in the UK have been treated disgracefully and abandoned by their own UK Government.

The United States government successfully secured compensation for their own victims from Gaddafi. Sadly, our own UK Government chose not to become involved despite desperate pleads for help by the victims and their families.

I’m sorry, but the lack of support from the UK Government devalued the life of my son and every other UK citizen as the Government appeared to be more preoccupied with trade deals and oil.

  • Taken from written evidence submitted to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee
  • Stephen Gault: Lost his father, Samuel, in the IRA Enniskillen Poppy Day bomb and was injured himself in the incident in 1987

This report is a very strong statement — the victims definitely deserve compensation. I know Gaddafi is no longer here but I’ve been part of a writ going on for 11 years with our legal team in London. Hopefully it’s positive news for those eagerly awaiting some sort of redress because of Libyan- supplied Semtex.

Victims have once again been forgotten by the British Government, especially when the Americans, German and French all received compensation because of acts of IRA terrorism they were caught up in. UK citizens have been denied any sort of redress for the same monetary value that others got.

Under the leadership of the current government, but also the previous Labour and coalition governments, they have forsaken the victims just to get trade deals.

Tony Blair, when he was Prime Minister, did away with the compensation claims so Britain could get oil deals with Libya going back to the late 2000s.

I remember images of Blair negotiating with Gaddafi in a tent in 2004.

That was the opportunity to seek compensation payments for the IRA victims — but instead of that he turned his back on the IRA victims just to get these great trade deals for the UK.

I wonder, if this compensation happens, if it will just be for those who took the legal writ or all victims in general? Either way, they deserve compensation, but we wouldn’t even be in this situation if it wasn’t for our solicitors in London who fought the case for 11 long years.

The Americans, French and Germans fought the same case but that was done away with by Blair.

One such scenario was the Harrods bombing, when a British police officer was killed yet his family didn’t get a penny.

But American victims got a big payout, so there’s certainly a hierarchy of victims.

If you’re a UK citizen you don’t get anything but if you’re another nationality you do, which is totally morally wrong.

Will the British government listen? That’s the billion dollar question. This is just a recommendation from the Northern Ireland select committee so whether the government take that on board or not I don’t know. But I would make the point this is an opportunity, coming up to an election in June, to sort out this victims issue once and for all.

They could use that as part of their manifesto for getting themselves back in government. It’s not just a Northern Ireland issue, it’s a UK issue as there’s scores of victims in the mainland who were injured through Libyan-supplied Semtex.

Charles Arbuthnot (on behalf of the Arbuthnot family): His sister, WPC Jane Arbuthnot, was killed in the Harrods bombing in December 1983

On December 17, 1983, Chelsea Police Station received an alert that there was a possible bomb in a car in the Harrods store area.

Hans Crescent was on my sister WPC Jane Arbuthnot’s beat, so she joined her colleagues to patrol the area. She was in Hans Crescent when the bomb blew up.

Like any family who had lost a loved one, we were devastated, shocked, bewildered, angry, horrified and dumbstruck.

We received enormous support from the police and the public.

I was filled with guilt and remorse as Jane had swapped a shift to welcome me home from university, my mother was in pieces and my sister had never seen my father cry.

Today, the pain is far less, but the presence of Jane is sorely missed. My father passed away, leaving my mum, brother, sister and myself and this big hole.

My older brother and sister have not had children. This was not a thought-through decision, but a circumstance of life. I have had two children and we always think how many and what children would Jane have had.

Her birthday is never forgotten. Her grave is visited around her birthday each and every year. Both my daughters are very aware of their aunt Jane.

I am sending this to the compensation inquiry as a matter of principle. An American can get copious amounts of compensation for losing the life of a loved one at the Harrods bombing, so why should the families of the British victims be excluded?

As Lord Empey said when my sister met with him: “You can get compensation for a flight or train being late these days.”

It is the direct discrimination that we, as a family, find incredibly unjust. My sister died doing her job, but her job was not to be blown to smithereens — her job was to protect the public and uphold the law.

  • Taken from written evidence submitted to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

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