HM Government support for UK victims of IRA attacks that used Gaddafi-supplied Semtex and weapons: follow-up Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

Securing compensation

1.The Government has consistently held that it is not its responsibility to secure compensation for victims of Libyan Semtex, and that victims should pursue cases with the Libyan authorities individually. This is an untenable policy position. To state that victims have not exhausted all legal remedies ignores the reality of the current political situation in Libya, with its chaotic and unstable governance arrangements. Time has already run out for many victims. The Government must now enter into direct negotiations with the Libyan authorities to seek a compensation deal as soon as possible. (Paragraph 19)

2.Whilst we welcome the announcement of William Shawcross to begin the long overdue process of calculating the amount of compensation due to victims, this role should extend much further. The role could help ensure greater cross-government working as previously suggested by the Minister but should also negotiate to secure a compensation agreement. Once the amount of compensation has been calculated, the Special Adviser must also have a role in securing compensation, espousing the claims of victims directly with the Libyan Government. Once the amount of compensation has been calculated, the Special Adviser must also have a role in securing compensation, espousing the claims of victims directly with the Libyan Government. The Special Adviser should regularly report to the Committee on their work. (Paragraph 23)

Libya’s frozen assets

3.We do not accept the argument that HMRC’s duty of confidentiality means that this information cannot be released and the responses we received from the Treasury did not answer the points that we raised. We only wish to know, definitively, whether HMRC has collected tax on these assets, the aggregate total amount of any tax HMRC has received, and the amount it receives each year. We hope that the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation will be able to provide more information on this issue. The Government should release information on how much tax has been collected from Libya’s frozen assets. If tax is being collected, then the Government must explain why this money is not being used to finance a victims’ reparations fund. (Paragraph 33)

4.We received contradictory information from the Government on the issuing of licences and we have subsequently learned that licences have been issued. This alone illustrates the need for an individual tasked with ensuring greater cross-government working in this area. The issuing of licences releasing the interest or revenue from frozen Libyan assets is a worrying trend, it is clear that these assets are being more actively managed than previously thought. It will be most unjust if all Libyan frozen assets are issued such licences and therefore released before a compensation package is agreed for victims of Libyan sponsored IRA terrorism. The Government should release as much information as legally possible on who licences are issued to and whether these financial institutions have in fact released the funds. In the future, the Government should inform Parliament via a Written Statement when HM Treasury intends to issue a licence for any frozen Libyan assets to be released. (Paragraph 37)


5.Whilst the rhetoric of this Government has been supportive of the victims of Gaddafi-sponsored IRA terrorism, this is yet to translate into tangible progress in supporting and compensating those affected. This contrasts sharply with the actions of the governments of the United States, Germany and France who have secured compensation for victims. During our predecessors’ inquiry, witnesses spoke of the terrible human consequences of Gaddafi’s support and the suffering victims still endure. Many victims have died and will never receive the compensation they deserve. Compensation cannot undo the damage caused by Gaddafi’s support, but it could help to alleviate the suffering of victims. The Government has a moral duty to act to support these individuals. (Paragraph 38)

6.We welcome Government action in appointing an individual to assess the level of compensation necessary for victims. However, the Government can do much more, namely empowering the adviser to have a role in securing compensation for victims and engaging in direct government-to-government negotiations with the Libyan authorities. The Government should also release clear information on the taxable status of, and taxes collected from, Libya’s frozen assets and outline whether the case has been considered for compensating victims from this. The information requested on licences issued for accessing frozen Libyan assets should also be made publicly available, and the House should be notified when they are issued. The Government should carefully consider decisions to issue licences in the future when linked to compensation for victims. (Paragraph 39)

Published: 9 April 2019