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Payouts for Semtex victims raised with new Libya leader, Paisley told

By Richard Wheeler

Published 20/04/2016

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond

Compensation for victims of Libya-sponsored terrorism has already been raised with the new Libyan government, Philip Hammond has said.

The Foreign Secretary suggested the issue of payments will not be resolved quickly given that prime minister-designate Fayez Sarraj and his team do not have much access to the country's ministries, civil servants or assets.

But Mr Hammond said he put the issue on Mr Sarraj's agenda during a surprise visit to Libya to support the government of national accord (GNA) on Monday.

Campaigning has continued to ensure those bereaved and injured by IRA attacks made possible by Semtex explosive and other weapons from the former Libyan regime of Colonel Gaddafi receive compensation.

Speaking in the Commons, the DUP's North Antrim MP Ian Paisley told Mr Hammond: "Given the failure of the last two Labour administrations to secure adequate compensation for Libya-supplied Semtex victims in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland - at the same time America was able to get that compensation - will you now indicate that you will redeem this situation and place on the agenda for the GNA, and for the prime minister, that compensation will now be a key issue that this Government will now pursue with the new administration?"

Mr Hammond replied: "I can confirm to you that it is already on the agenda.

"Prime Minister Sarraj is aware of our focus on this issue but it is a question of timing.

"At the moment the government hasn't got access to the great majority of its ministries or its civil servants.

"It hasn't got access to its assets.

"So it would be, I think, premature to be making that the number one issue.

"But this Government is focused on the need to raise and resolve these issues at the right point in this progression and Prime Minister Sarraj is already notified that we will do so."

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