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Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): In these early stages, is it the view of the British Government that Mr. Al Megrahi alone was responsible for conceiving and implementing that hideous crime?

Mr. Cook: No, definitely not. Indeed, the charge sheet charges him with conspiring with other persons unknown to carry out the bombing. Mr. Al Megrahi was charged along with Mr. Fhimah because they were the two named and known individuals against whom we judged we had criminal evidence to bring a charge and secure a conviction. In the case of Mr. Al Megrahi, that proved a valid judgment. If we discover criminal evidence that will enable us to charge others, we will do so.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce (Gordon): I thank the Foreign Secretary for his clear and helpful statement. Does he agree--as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) said today in the Scottish Parliament--that this trial has been a vindication not only of the Scottish system but of the international agreement to bring it about? Does he further agree that it demonstrates to international terrorists and all criminals that there is a system that can bring them to justice and secure a conviction and that they can no longer expect to get away with crimes with impunity? Does it not confirm the urgent need to follow that model and secure an agreement to set up an international criminal court?

Can the Foreign Secretary say a little more about how the verdict may affect relationships between Britain and Libya? Given that Colonel Gaddafi has at least, in principle, accepted the validity of the court and there has been some co-operation recently on the Yvonne Fletcher case, does he agree that this is the opportunity for Colonel Gaddafi to respond by acknowledging that Libyan officials were involved in that dreadful act; to apologise for the acts of terrorism that he says that he repudiates; and to be prepared to make recompense to those who have suffered so tragically? Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that Colonel Gaddafi should co-operate fully in any possible public inquiry? Understandably, the relatives are calling for that. Has not the pressure on the relatives been shown by the emotional reaction of Dr. Jim Swire to the verdict? I am glad to say that he has recovered, but that was a demonstration of that enormous emotional pressure.

Finally, can the Foreign Secretary tell us what co-operation the British Government would give the American relatives should they decide to pursue a civil action--or would he prefer the employment of some other method to ensure that the matter is resolved in a way that gives Libya an opportunity to prove that it wants to be treated as part of the international community, rather than being pushed further to the fringes?

Mr. Cook: I fully share the hon. Gentleman's view on Scottish justice. Indeed, during the past few days, it has

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given me some satisfaction to hear a large number of people from America and other countries who attended the proceedings paying tribute to the proceedings and to the punctiliousness of the court and the panel of judges.

I fully agree with the hon. Gentleman as to the importance of an international criminal court. One of the best ways that we can prevent future atrocities is by making it clear that there is no hiding place for those who commit them. I look forward to the support--of which I am confident--of the hon. Gentleman's party when that Bill comes to the House.

On the Libyan leadership, I entirely accept--as the Libyans, too, would be wise to recognise--that, if they want to prove their new credentials and a new spirit towards the international community, the best way to do so will be by rapidly fulfilling the remaining requirements--accepting responsibility for what happened and paying compensation for it.

It is, of course, entirely up to the American relatives, or other relatives, to proceed by taking a civil action in the courts. Any initial payment of compensation must not preclude the obligation on the Libyan Government to meet an award for compensation in a future civil action.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North): Is it not sheer common sense to conclude that the convicted person can hardly have acted on his own initiative and that the instructions came from the very top in Libya? Does my right hon. Friend agree that justice will be done only when those who gave the instruction for that act of mass murder are also in the dock?

Mr. Cook: I have already indicated that the charge sheet explicitly recognised that Mr. Al Megrahi did not work alone. We have no criminal evidence that we could take into court with the hope of a criminal conviction against any other individual in a fair and open trial. In the fulness of time, this result may produce other leads; if so, we shall certainly follow them up. In the meantime, whether Mr. Al Megrahi acted alone or under instruction, the Government of Libya must accept responsibility for what a senior official did. That is why we require of the Libyan Government a statement accepting responsibility, and accepting responsibility for paying compensation to those who lost relatives in that terrible atrocity.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan): Does the Foreign Secretary agree that the outcome is a vindication not only of the Scottish legal system but of those relatives such as Dr. Jim Swire, who campaigned for the third- country option long before it became Government policy? Although I realise that the Foreign Secretary has not ruled out a public inquiry and I accept his point that the time is not quite right for a decision on the matter, will he at least say that he understands the strength of the arguments made by relatives--that there are wider implications to the atrocity, which go far beyond individual guilt or innocence, and that they could usefully be explored in such a forum?

Mr. Cook: On the latter point, of course, there are issues that were not explored during the trial, because the trial focused on the particular question of guilt or

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innocence. However, it should be pointed out that during the trial, we paraded much evidence and information which for 12 or 10 years previously we had been obliged to keep to ourselves because it would have compromised a trial. In addition to the trial, a fatal accident inquiry took place and the President's commission was set up in the United States.

My colleagues will need to reflect on those matters when they decide whether to order an inquiry. They have not reached such a decision--nor should they until the appeal proceedings are disposed of.

I would absolutely endorse the tributes that the hon. Gentleman and others have paid to Dr. Jim Swire. I was concerned today to hear that he had collapsed, and delighted to hear that he had recovered. It has been a very gruelling 12 years for him and the other relatives. I very much believe that, when they have recovered from an undoubtedly emotional occasion, they can take some satisfaction from knowing that they have played their part in seeing justice being done for their loved ones.

Mr. Ernie Ross (Dundee, West): Will my right hon. Friend take time to remind the House that at the stage when the trial was agreed on, the Libyan Government made it plain that they would accept absolutely and completely the outcome of the Scottish judicial system? It is important to remind the House and the Libyan Government of that statement.

Will my right hon. Friend thank the League of Arab States, which played such a big part not only in impressing on the Libyans the fact that, if they wanted to return to the international fold, they would have to accept requests to give these individuals up for trial, but in convincing the United Kingdom Government and the international community that the individuals would indeed be given up, enabling us to move towards establishing the court in The Hague?

Mr. Cook: My hon. Friend is right that the Government of Libya had indicated that they would accept the outcome of the trial, and I can inform the House that in the course of the day, three very senior figures in the Libyan Administration have gone public saying that they accept and respect the judgments of the court.

I take the opportunity to praise not only the League of Arab States and the Arab nations but the other international bodies that helped us to secure the trial.

I particularly mention the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, who worked very hard to secure the terms under which the two men were handed over for trial. I hope to speak to Kofi Annan by telephone tomorrow, and we shall see how we can follow the matter up in the United Nations.

Mr. Eric Pickles (Brentwood and Ongar): The news that the right hon. Gentleman has just given about the three high-ranking officials from Libya is welcome. He is probably not aware that BBC News 24 was quoting, I believe, a Deputy Foreign Minister from Libya, as saying that the result of the verdict had to be an immediate lifting of sanctions and a compensation package for the Libyan people for the effects of sanctions. May I take it that that is not the view that is coming through via

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official channels? When does the right hon. Gentleman anticipate receiving an official response from the Libyan Government?

Mr. Cook: We are already in dialogue with the Libyan Government. We shall continue to be so, not only bilaterally but through the United Nations. We should not necessarily expect the two further steps that we require to take place before the conclusion of an appeal, and such an appeal may well take most of the rest of the year; but we do have a guilty verdict, and against that guilty verdict there can be no question of any compensation for Libya for the effect of sanctions, nor, until the Libyan Government comply with all the requirements of the resolutions, of a formal lifting of sanctions.

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