Yvonne Fletcher murder: Colleagues at emotional vigil for police officer killed by Libya

Friend John Murray, who cradled officer as she died, says he wants to bring suspect Saleh Ibrahim Mabrouk to court

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Hundreds of colleagues of a police officer shot dead outside the Libyan embassy in London have gathered to pay tribute on the 40th anniversary of her killing.

Yvonne Fletcher, 25, died while policing a demonstration against Muammar Qaddafi on April 17, 1984. Her friend and colleague John Murray has now announced he is to launch a private murder prosecution.

Saleh Ibrahim Mabrouk was found jointly liable for Ms Fletcher’s death in 2021 outside the Libyan People's Bureau in St James's Square, London, in a civil case brought by Mr Murray.

Mr Murray, who is now 67, promised her as she lay dying that he would find those responsible for her death and told The National he is confident he can get a prosecution moving "in a matter of weeks".

He is bringing the private prosecution against Mr Mabrouk, who lives in Libya, after prosecutors in the UK dropped a case against him in 2017. This will include a request for his extradition to the UK to stand trial.

“In my mind, once we get Mabrouk into a criminal court then what I have done over the past 40 years will be finished and I will have done exactly what I set out to do," he told The National. "Placing him in front of a court. It’s up to that court to decide if he’s guilty or innocent. I hope to do that and in a matter of weeks to start the criminal case off."

Speaking near to the memorial to his fallen colleague, Mr Murray shared his lasting memories of her.

“I still remember walking the streets of London with her and she’s smiling and happy. And she’s doing what she wanted to do. I will never forget that smile. It’s always going to be with me.”

On Wednesday morning, Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley visited the scene and laid a wreath in Yvonne’s memory.

A police guard of honour stood at the memorial service on the square and doves were released in honour of the dead officer.

To pursue this prosecution, Mr Murray has instructed private prosecution experts Edmonds Marshall McMahon, Barnaby Jameson KC, and solicitors McCue Jury & Partners, who will be working on a non-profit basis. He is also crowdfunding to cover the cost of bringing the prosecution.

Mr Murray said the “terrorist murder of Yvonne Fletcher” was “one of the worst atrocities executed by Qaddafi”.

“To this very day the quest for justice for Yvonne continues and although we have had historic victories in both the High Court and Appeal Court, the man who allegedly orchestrated Yvonne’s murder continues to live freely,” he said.

Mr Murray said that if the UK’s Crown Prosecution service “cannot or will not proceed with criminal charges, the only option available is to embark on our own legal action in the criminal courts”.

“It is a stain on the nation’s conscience that WPC Yvonne Fletcher’s alleged killer, Mabrouk, continues to live freely in Libya,” he said.

“This private prosecution should mean that Mabrouk will face a criminal trial and Yvonne will finally get the justice our country owes her.”

In a joint statement, McCue Jury & Partners’ Matthew Jury, and Andrew Marshall, of Edmonds Marshall McMahon, said: “This private prosecution should mean that Mabrouk will face a criminal trial and Yvonne will finally get the justice our country owes her.”

Paying tribute to WPC Fletcher, Sir Mark said she “was just 25 when she was callously murdered”.

Hundreds attend vigil for Yvonne Fletcher in London

Hundreds attend vigil for Yvonne Fletcher in London

“She was simply doing her job, policing protest, not unlike what many officers do so often today. She had her whole career and her whole life ahead of her.”

WPC Fletcher's family said: “It was 40 years ago today that Yvonne was just doing her job policing another demonstration when she was tragically killed in St James’s Square.

“Over the years Yvonne has always been in our thoughts along with all those affected on that fateful day. As in previous years the family has chosen to spend the day privately reflecting on the sister we knew and loved without any media intrusion. We would like to thank the Metropolitan Police for their continued support.”

Mr Mabrouk was not present when Ms Fletcher was shot, having been detained by the police before the demonstration.

But Mr Justice Spencer said that Mr Mabrouk was an “active participant” in a plot to fire on the demonstrators.

Mr Mabrouk was arrested in 2015 in the UK, where he owned a home in Reading, Berkshire, but two years later police said charges could not be brought because crucial evidence had been kept on grounds of national security.

Despite being the prime suspect in the case, he was reportedly given several visas to return to the UK between 1999 and 2011 amid claims he was recruited as a “state asset”.

He is the only person to be arrested in connection with the case and denied having anything to do with the shooting.

Libya admitted responsibility in 1999 and agreed to pay compensation to Ms Fletcher's family.

Updated: April 17, 2024, 2:16 PM