Saturday, September 27, 2008

Gordon Brown' Libya stance branded a 'disgrace'

News Letter

PM's Libya stance branded a 'disgrace'

26 September 2008

A LABOUR MP said it was "pathetic" that Prime Minister Gordon Brown put Britain's relationship with Libya ahead of seeking justice for IRA victims killed and maimed by Libyan weaponry.

Responding to a letter from the Prime Minister to lawyers acting for IRA victims, Andrew MacKinlay, a member of the Westminster Foreign Affairs Committee, said Mr Brown's response was a disgrace.

In the letter, seen by the News Letter, Mr Brown said he was unwilling to seek compensation for victims of IRA terrorism – despite the American government securing compensation for American victims.

In the letter, Mr Brown said that he would not be taking the matter up with the Libyan government, seemingly arguing that it could jeopardise Libyan cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

Mr Brown wrote: "You raised the possibility of direct UK-Libya negotiations to settle these cases, and I would like to explain why the UK Government does not consider this to be appropriate.

"In recent years, our relationship with Libya had been fundamentally transformed.

"They are an essential partner in the fight against terrorism and it is in the UK's interests for this cooperation to continue.

"Furthermore, as you know, Libya has answered questions about its involvement with the IRA to the satisfaction of the UK Government."

Mr Brown went on to argue that the Government was helping victims of terrorism by appointing four victims' commissioners.

But last night Mr MacKinlay, who raised the issue with Foreign Secretary David Miliband after reading a News Letter article while in the Province, said the Government was failing terror victims.

"I think it's a pathetic response," the Thurrock MP said, claiming the Foreign and Commonwealth Office had "totally mis-read the situation".

Victims' campaigner Willie Frazer said it was a disgrace that the Government was abandoning IRA victims, while claiming it was doing so to help the fight against terrorism.

The FAIR director, who has been working to see Libya prosecuted for supplying the IRA with explosives and weapons, said: "Gordon Brown is saying that Libya are their friends and don't want to do anything against them. Are we not British subjects? Do we not count in all of this?

"If Libya wants to be our friend, it has to be held accountable for its actions. He is letting them away with mass murder – it's like any murder case, if you supplied the weapon you get 20 years in jail the same as the guy who pulled the trigger."

And Mr Frazer, who led a protest to the American embassy in Dublin on Monday, vowed that the fight for justice was far from over.

"The fight is only starting," he said.

"But this is an insult to the victims. Mentioning the four victims' commissioners, who are not even accepted by many victims: What has that got to do with Libya?"

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