UK Foreign Secretary calls for ‘just outcome’ for victims of Libyan-backed terrorism

Dominic Raab faced demands from MPs to use profits from £11 billion of frozen Libyan funds in the UK to pay compensation claims

Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi adjusts his glasses at the Africa-South America Summit on Margarita Island in this September 27, 2009 file photo. Gaddafi died of wounds suffered in his capture near his hometown of Sirte on October 20, 2011, a senior NTC military official said. National Transitional Council official Abdel Majid Mlegta told Reuters earlier that Gaddafi was captured and wounded in both legs at dawn on Thursday as he tried to flee in a convoy which NATO warplanes attacked.  REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Files (VENEZUELA - Tags: POLITICS) *** Local Caption ***  SIN303_LIBYA_1020_11.JPG
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UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has called for a “just outcome” for British victims of Libyan-backed terrorism but hinted that £11bn assets frozen in the UK would not be used for compensation claims.

The regime of Muammar Qaddafi supplied guns and explosives to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during their three-decade violent campaign for an independent Ireland that left more than 3,500 people dead before a peace deal in 1998.

MPs have backed the demands of families and injured survivors who want to tap the assets because of the difficulty of bringing legal action against the Libyan government during the country’s civil war.

Simon Hoare, the chairman of the UK parliament’s Northern Ireland committee, earlier this month called on Mr Raab to consider payments to families from the fund.

His request came after the head of Libya’s sovereign wealth fund said he wanted the UN to allow him to invest billions of dollars sitting idle in its accounts. Mr Hoare said. “I observe that there may be an opportunity to resolve the matter by allocating a proportion of the profits…. to UK victims of Qaddafi-sponsored IRA terrorism.”

In his response published on the parliamentary website this week, Mr Raab cited the UN resolution that stated the frozen assets “shall, at a later stage, as soon as possible be made available to and for the benefit of the people of (Libya)”.

He said he was aware of Libya’s request but was not aware of any formal request to vary the terms under which the sanctions were frozen.

Mr Raab added: “I… fully share your desire for progress towards a just outcome for UK victims of Qaddafi-sponsored terrorism”.

The worldwide assets of the Libyan sovereign wealth fund were valued at $67 billion (Dh246bn) in 2012. About £11.2bn (Dh55.5bn) is held in the UK.

The families of victims of attacks using Libyan-provided Semtex explosive have been told they should launch individual claims rather than rely on the Conservative government of Boris Johnson to negotiate with a future Libyan government.

But they said the suggestion was impractical and compared the government’s stance to that of the US, which passed laws in 2008 that led to the Qaddafi regime paying $1bn in compensation to American victims.

Jonathan Ganesh, a campaigner who was injured in the 1996 bombing of London's Docklands financial district, said he was disappointed at Mr Raab's response and felt that victims had been let down.

He also pointed to the government's failure to publish a government-ordered report completed in March that examined how best to secure compensation from Libya. The government has not committed to publicising its findings.

"This is no way to treat victims of terrorist violence," said Mr Ganesh. "Victims have committed suicide and people have had to sell their homes to pay for treatment. They raised peoples' expectations - and then they took hope away from them again."