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UK Government accused of blocking contents of IRA-Libyan victims report


Colonel Gaddafi

Colonel Gaddafi

Colonel Gaddafi

A DUP MP and SDLP MP have joined forces to accuse the government of suppressing a report on compensation for victims of Libyan-sponsored IRA terrorism.

Following years of campaigning, an independent report was commissioned by the government to ask how frozen Libyan assets worth billions in the UK might be used to compensate victims of IRA violence in the 1980s and 1990s.

Former Charity Commission chairman William Shawcross submitted the report last March but it has not been made public.

Yesterday's Sunday Telegraph published a letter from a group of cross-party MPs, including the DUP's Ian Paisley and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, demanding its immediate publication.

In 2019, it was reported the UK Government has collected £17m in tax on £12bn of frozen Libyan assets hoarded by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in the UK.

The former Libyan dictator had supplied the Provisional IRA with Semtex and funding, with victims calling for some of the money to be used as compensation.

In May last year, Foreign Office minister James Cleverly told MPs the report had been submitted and that ministers "will consider the report in detail once the current need to focus on the Covid-19 crisis has abated".

Three months later, then Foreign Office Minister Baroness Sugg told peers that "Government ministers will consider the report in detail in due course, including whether to publish any elements of it".

The letter from the MPs - also signed by Conservative Andrew Rosindell, Labour's Conor McGinn and Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney ­- calls for answers.

It read: "Mr Shawcross's report has been with the Government for many months and nothing has come of it. The minister responsible for it will not publish it and the contents remain secret. This is not good enough."

It added that victims across the UK who had suffered from the hands of the IRA, from weapons and explosives supplied by Gaddafi, remain without justice and were being denied access to the recommendations made by Mr Shawcross.

"What is the Government hiding? What has Mr Shawcross proposed for the victims? Has the Government any intention of making good on the promises made that victims of Libyan-sponsored terror will receive justice before it's too late?

"Today we call on the Government to publish the Shawcross report without further delay and help bring this matter of compensation to a conclusion."

A Docklands Victims Association spokesperson told the Belfast Telegraph that they had met with Mr Shawcross last year.

Two people were killed and over 100 injured when an IRA bomb went off in the Docklands area of London in 1996.

"He appeared to genuinely understand the pain the victims have gone through waiting for compensation that has resulted in victims taking their own lives," the spokesperson said.

"However, I feel absolutely appalled with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who appointed Mr Shawcross to help us, as he is now denying us access to this report. The victims and their families are completely devastated as this treatment is intolerable".

A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesman said: "We are taking this work forward. Ministers are carefully considering the complex issues captured in Mr Shawcross's internal report, giving due respect to the victims."

Mr Shawcross told the Sunday Telegraph that he had submitted the report to the Foreign Secretary last March, but declined to make any further comment.

Belfast Telegraph