Davey: ministers seem prepared to have given Gaddafi anything he wanted

Yesterday’s Times revealed that Jack Straw signed a secret deal with Libya three years ago guaranteeing the Libyan killer of a British policewoman will never be brought to justice in Britain:

The Libyan killer of a British policewoman will never be brought to justice in Britain after a secret deal approved by Jack Straw. The Foreign Office bowed to Libyan pressure and agreed that Britain would abandon any attempt to try the murderer of WPC Yvonne Fletcher, shot outside the Libyan embassy in London 25 years ago.

Anthony Layden, Britain’s former ambassador to Libya, said this weekend he had signed the agreement with the Libyan government three years ago, when Straw was foreign secretary. At the time Britain was negotiating trade deals worth hundreds of millions of pounds with Libya.

The deal followed a visit by Tony Blair, then prime minister, to meet Colonel Gadaffi in March 2004 after Libya announced that it was ending its nuclear weapons programme. The disclosure will provoke criticism of the government after the row over the early release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the terminally ill Lockerbie bomber.

Lib Dem shadow foreign secretary Ed Davey has condemned the move:

It increasingly seems as if Ministers were prepared to give Colonel Gaddafi anything he wanted in return for oil, gas and arms contracts. It’s not surprising that they tried to keep this shoddy behaviour secret and failed to inform Parliament, the public and even the parents of PC Yvonne Fletcher.”

Ed last week called for an inquiry into the Government’s diplomatic machinations with Libya, arguing:

Jack Straw has many questions to answer on his involvement in this issue, so it is right that he comes before a Parliamentary committee. But with daily revelations about the role of Brown, Mandelson and Blair in murky dealings with Libya, we will need a far wider-ranging inquiry to really get to the bottom of this.

“Parliament must set up a far-reaching investigation into recent UK-Libya relations which will call all those ministers involved to account. We need to get the truth from all the Labour figures who have been drawn into Gadaffi’s big tent.”

Incidentally, there is a fascinating letter in this week’s Economist from Jean and Barrie Berkley, the parents of one of the Lockerbie victims. They are members of UK Families Flight 103, a group of relatives and friends of most of the British victims of the Lockerbie bombing, founded in 1989 with the maxim “The Truth Must Be Known”. It deserves to be read in full, but is worth quoting this extract:

… our members are united in continuing to demand a full independent inquiry into the whole Lockerbie story. We have asked for such an inquiry many times in meetings with past and present senior government ministers, including Tony Blair. We were appalled that the ratification of the prisoner-transfer agreement, which stipulates that there must be no ongoing criminal proceedings if a prisoner is to be released, took place just as the first part of Mr Megrahi’s appeal was about to begin. We are now hearing much talk of realpolitik, but we believe this has been the case right from the night of the crash.

Read the letter in full here.

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One Comment

  • Libyan League for Hu 13th Sep '09 - 11:15pm

    [email protected]

    Prime Minister Gordon Brown
    10 Downing Street
    London SW1A 2AA

    United Kingdom

    4 September 2009

    Dear Prime minister,

    The Libyan League for Human Rights, a Libyan NGO in exile, member of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and of the Euro-Mediterranean human rights network (EMHRN), is writing to you, on an urgent basis, to draw your attention to the unclear health conditions of Mr. Abdelbasit Al-Megrahi, the only person convicted for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people and to the legal responsibilities of the UK government in his safety and the protection and preservation of his health. We understand that Mr. Al Megrahy, who was allowed recently to return to Libya after spending 8 of his 27 years sentence in Scottish prison, has become an unwanted prisoner and his mere existence has perhaps become cumbersome, but we believe that this cannot be used as an excuse to precipitate his death through medical negligence or to eliminate him through loose and slack security protection. Mr. Al Megrahi remains the only witness of the suffering of millions of people in the UK , the US , in Libya (effects of the embargo) and elsewhere. His health and safety are all the more important that he made it clear that he is resolute to make public all the facts about Lockerbie crime and that those facts will, in his words, leave not even the slightest doubt about his innocence.

    Mr. Prime Minister,

    It is good that the international community hears what Mr. Megrahi has to say and for this there is an urgent need that his life is protected and that his safety is enhanced. Libya’s medical infrastructures are far from being satisfactory as may be indicated by the number of Libyans who seek medical care abroad, in Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan in particular, and as attested by the mysterious death in custody in May 2009 of Mr. Fathi El-Jahmi, a prominent Libyan Human right Defender. It is therefore urgent that a British medical team be sent to Tripoli to support the work of the Libyan medical team in charge of Mr. Al-Megrahi’s medical file. it is also important that Physicians from independent medical NGOs are invited to participate in the same endeavour to avoid to Mr. Megrahi what Mr. El-Jahmi experienced months in the same medical facility; the Tripoli Medical Centre, that led to his unexplained death.

    I thank you for your attention to this important and urgent matter.

    Yours sincerely,

    Sliman Bouchuiguir (Ph-D)

    Secretary General

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