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Tony Blair faces quiz on Gaddafi cash snub to victims of IRA

By Andrew Woodcock

Published 09/10/2015

Former prime minister Tony Blair
Former prime minister Tony Blair

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has been asked to give evidence to a parliamentary committee looking into the failure to include UK victims of IRA violence in a compensation deal with Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

Lawyers for victims of attacks using Semtex explosives supplied by Gaddafi — who was killed in 2011 — said that Mr Blair had “questions to answer” about why they were locked out of a the 2008 deal which saw Libya pay around £1bn in compensation to US victims of terrorism.

The deal provided Gaddafi’s regime with immunity from terrorism-related law suits, effectively invalidating the claims of British victims suing Libya in the US courts.

The House of Commons Northern Ireland Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the compensation issue, has been handed a copy of an email sent to Mr Blair’s office by ex-ambassador Sir Vincent Fean in 2008, a few days before the former PM met Gaddafi.

The victims’ lawyer Jason McCue told the committee last month that the message made it “very clear that Tony Blair is working with President (George) Bush and Gaddafi to bring out what is known as the Libya claims settlement agreement, which deprived all the British citizens of compensation”.

In a letter to the former PM, committee chairman Laurence Robertson told Mr Blair: “There is a real sense amongst the victims that an opportunity to include them in the agreement reached between the US and Libya was missed in 2008.

“As you are no doubt aware, there has been a lot of concern voiced as to the nature of any involvement you may have had in negotiations between Libya and the US in the run-up to the signing of the US-Libya claims settlement agreement, which precluded the provision of compensation for the UK victims.”

Mr Robertson asked Mr Blair to submit written evidence to the inquiry, and said that he could later be called to appear before the cross-party committee in person.

Mr McCue said the call for the ex-PM to give evidence was a “great step forward”, and could help clear up the question of whether the victims’ rights were sacrificed for business deals.

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