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Victims’ anger over failure to publish report on Libya compensation efforts

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Victims of Libya -sponsored IRA bombings have heavily criticised the Government for failing to publish a report on its ill-fated efforts to secure compensation from the north African state.

They also reacted angrily to the Government’s continued insistence that it is unable to use billions of pounds of Libyan assets linked to the Gaddafi regime that are frozen in the UK to compensate them.

In a written statement to Parliament, Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly ruled out publishing the report penned by William Shawcross or using the £12 billion of assets to fund a compensation scheme.

Mr Cleverly said the Government would also not fund a specific scheme for compensating those affected by Libyan arms, insisting the responsibility for paying victims lay with the Libyan state.

He said the Government would continue to press the current Libyan authorities on the issue and he highlighted that a wider compensation schemes for those injured in criminal acts were available in the UK, including a new payment scheme for Troubles victims.

Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi armed the IRA with the powerful plastic explosive used in atrocities such as the bombing of Harrods in 1983, the Remembrance Day ceremony in Enniskillen in 1987, Warrington in 1993 and London’s Docklands in 1996.

Those bereaved and injured by the attacks have long been pressing for Government support for their bid for compensation paid out of the £12 billion of assets linked to the toppled Gaddafi regime that were frozen in the UK in 2011 under UN sanction.

A view of the memorial during events to remember the 12 victims of the IRA’s 1987 Remembrance Sunday bomb attack in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh (Phil Fitzpatrick/PA) / PA Archive

Mr Shawcross, a former chairman of the Charity Commission, was appointed by the Foreign Office in 2019 to examine the issue of compensation.

He handed his report to the Government in 2020 but its contents were not publicised.

Mr Cleverly’s statement ruling out future publication came less than 24 hours before Mr Shawcross is due to face questions from MPs on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee about his work.

“Since it was commissioned as an internal scoping report, to provide internal advice to Ministers, and draws on private and confidential conversations held by Mr Shawcross, the Government will not be publishing the report,” said Mr Cleverly.

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