The Docklands bomb

On 9th February 1996 Slab Murphy’s South Armagh IRA gang bombed the Docklands. The bomb consisted of a fertiliser mix , accelerated by Semtex, supplied by Libya.

Readers of this blog will know of the history of British involvement with Gadafy and the current Parliamentary inquiries.

Victims and survivors of Semtex bombs still await reparation from Libya. Over 150 took legal action in April 2006 and were blocked by the unholy alliance of Bush,  Blair and Gadafy. Over 1,000 others have a moral claim to reparation.

The big issue is ‘from whence will the money come?’

The British Government says that we must await a stable Libyan government. There has been chaos in Libya since 2011. Given that there are currently three rival governments, stability seems a long way off.

Frozen in UK bank accounts is £9.4 billion , most of it the property of Gadafy, his family and  his henchmen. This would provide reparation  to thousands of victims all over the United Kingdom but presently, the government will not legislate to release it.

A campaign has been under way since the middle of 2015 to secure release.

McCue and Co , solicitors in London, have led this campaign and they and a number of other people have given evidence in support , to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. Further activity is planned for 2016.

Imagine my shock  to find that Diane Dodds MEP, told the European Parliament; “we must see a relative and sustainable peace in Libya in order to further our goal of negotiating a fair financial settlement for those innocent victims”. So the DUP’s MEP agrees with the British Government.

In fact in January 2016, and under her watch, the EU renewed its legislation for the freezing of funds and neither she nor any other unionist politician seemed to notice.

Jeffrey Donaldson is DUP Chief Whip. In the DUP 2015 election manifesto, the DUP  said ” the DUP is not beholden to any national party”. At that point they were in a fever of expectation that they would hold the balance of power. In November 2015 David Cameron appointed Donaldson Britain’s Trade Envoy to Egypt. Jeffrey gushed in the press about his appointment.

In  correspondence with me about Diane Dodds’ statement, where he was abusive and ill tempered, he said that he was elected to represent “ALL innocent victims”. So I thought that I would take a look at both the DUP’s 2015 election manifesto and its grandly entitled “Northern Ireland Plan”. Neither document mentions the securing of compensation or reparations for victims. If he were so elected, it seems to have happened by osmosis.

Jeffrey then referred to me as one of ‘the select few’. I’m not easily offended and I’m a big boy, well bigger that Jeffrey anyway; but I wonder if that is his view of victims and survivors generally, when they take legal action against a dictator?

Stung at my criticism of Diane,  the Egyptian Trade Envoy said;”I will be asking your legal team to reflect on the damage such unwarranted exchanges does [sic] to our combined efforts” An interesting idea. I wonder how often he approaches other lawyers about their clients? Perhaps it’s a DUP thing to try to intimidate victims and survivors. Any views, Arlene?

The fact is that neither he nor any other unionist has made a scrap of difference to the campaign for reparations for me or for the people hideously maimed.

Meanwhile , let’s think about someone more important.  Zaoui Berezag. He was injured in the Docklands bomb. In September 2015 his wife said “My Zaoui is blind , paralysed, brain damaged and has no leg’. He is very disabled and now he is in nappies.” Many other survivors of Libyan Semtex bombs are similarly afflicted.

James McArdle was convicted of conspiracy to cause the Docklands bombing and in June 1998 he was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

On 25 July 2000 the Queen granted McArdle  the Royal Prerogative of Mercy and he was released.

Zaoui remains imprisoned by his injuries and in dire financial straits.

Meanwhile Jeffrey , Her Britannic Majesty’s Trade Envoy, is spending this week in Egypt, where President Sisi has killed 2,500 political opponents and represses gays.

 

 

Politicians, what are they good for?

Without any notice and without the active consent of any elected representative the United Kingdom has re-enacted legislation , freezing the assets of the terrorist state of Libya and its gangsters.

See The Libya (European Union Financial Sanctions) Regulations 2016, made on 19th January 2016. The day before Nigel Dodds’ jingoistic defence of the Falkland Islands.

Despite much criticism , legal action and lobbying by victims’ groups and despite an inquiry being carried on by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, the new legislation, never voted on in the House of Commons but passed through as secondary legislation, makes no provision for the unfreezing of assets in order to make reparations for those killed or injured by Semtex supplied by Libya to Sinn Fein/IRA.

This also , despite UN Rapporteur, Pablo de Grief’s criticism of the lack of reparations for victims.

Despite much posturing by Unionist politicians and grandstanding in the Commons about terrorism and the Falklands, nothing has been achieved for the victims.

What a disgrace.

Why Blair should not fear the NI Affairs Committee

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee announced in July of 2105 that it was minded to enquire into the failure of HMG to secure compensation from Libya for the supply of Semtex to Sinn Fein/IRA.

Allegations have frequently been made that Tony Blair was instrumental in brokering a deal with USA and Libya and failing to secure the rights of UK citizens , when other nationalities were compensated.

The taking of evidence began in September. The weight of evidence so far points to discrimination towards UK citizens.

In October 2015 the chairman of the Committee , Laurence Robertson, wrote to Blair ,inviting him to submit written evidence. Blair replied on 11th December 2015 admitting, as far as he was aware, that he never raised the case of Semtex victims with Gadafy. You might find that in itself surprising, Dear Reader but worse is to come.

He said that the needs of the victims were being addressed through existing structures. For those of us used to Blair whoppers this was a mega whopper.

He followed this up by saying that we were precluded from legal action in the USA. Another lie.

On 11 December Blair appeared before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

On 6th January 2016 Robertson wrote again to Blair and invited him to give oral evidence. In an undated letter from the Office of Tony Blair, he replied saying “these continued attempts to implicate me in deliberately trying to stop IRA victims receiving compensation are, as I have made very clear, without foundation”

The Committee must now decide what to do.

Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice is the authoritative work on Parliament. Let’s take a look…

“when a select committee has the power to send for persons, that power is unqualified, except to the extent that it conflicts with the privileges of the Crown and of Members of the House of Lords, or with the rights of Commons”

[see Erskine May Parliamentary Practice 24th ED  p820]

So what if the person does not attend by invitation?

The witness is formally summoned to attend as a witness by order signed by the Chairman. On the face of the summons, unlike such issued by courts on occasions. there is no penal provision.

If he neglects to appear , he will be dealt with as in other cases of disobedience.

[ibid p820]

I know that now Dear Reader , those not well disposed to Tony will have visions of Blair in chains. Not so fast!

There is no power of arrest and imprisonment.The power of committal for contempt has not been used in modern times. It was last used in 1880.

There is power, held by the House of Commons, not the committee, to punish in other ways for contempt. Nobody has been fined since 1666.  The House has not punished a non member since 1978 and the tide of opinion is against sanctions.

So if he  does not appear , members of the Committee may gnash their teeth , rend their garments,  even wear sackcloth and ashes but Tone ain’t comin!

So much for the Mother of Parliaments.

 

Moussa Koussa, an odd man out

MK, as I shall call him, born in 1947, was one of the most powerful figures in Gadafy’s regime. Educated in the USA, he was head of the Libyan Intelligence Agency from 1994 to 2009. He then became foreign minister. He defected in March 2011 as the Arab Spring engulfed Libya. Arriving into  Farnborough by private jet , he was guarded by British Intelligence until he was permitted by the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, to leave for Qatar.

There has been much press speculation that he was a MI6 agent.Papers released by the CIA in relation to the Senate Inquiry into Mrs Clinton point to him  being  their asset.

Despite calls for him to be questioned about the killing of WPC Fletcher and the supply of Semtex to Sinn Fein/IRA he was spoken to only by the Scottish police, presumably in relation to the Lockerbie massacre.

The then Foreign Secretary , William Hague,  told the House of Commons that officials would encourage MK to cooperate fully with all requests for interviews with investigating authorities. This was said with a straight face.

Both the USA and the EC lifted both monetary and travel sanctions against him.

Well done thy good and faithful servant!

So, there it is then. MK saw the light, defected, recanted and now lives in comfortable retirement.

Enter Andrew MacKinlay at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.He said in evidence that MK was a known terrorist , named to him by Leyden , the British Ambassador as having been “up to his neck in Lockerbie”. MacKinley went on ” There were far too many people and agencies who would have been embarrassed in either a British or an International court… it is a reasonable assumption that his fingerprints would have been all over the supply of Semtex and other weaponry to the IRA.”  He went on to say that MK probably authorised supply to the IRA.

The really embarrassing thing for the “Peace Process” would be that MK knows precisely what Sinn Fein/IRA got. Comparing it to what was “decommissioned” would not be in the interests of the Peaceniks.

You might wonder Dear Reader , when the Director of Public Prosecutions is so exercised about the alleged murders by British forces  in Belfast and Derry , that he might be a little concerned about Andrew MacKinlay’s allegations. Unless I have missed something , he has been utterly silent.

So too, the silence of Chief Constable George, the man who invariably follows where the evidential trail leads.

The answer may lie in what MacKinlay says. Neither Barra nor George fancies facing up to the opening of Pandora’s Box. Or they have been told to do nothing by their political masters.

Happy Christmas Moussa!

The duplicitous Foreign Office

On 16th September 2015, Tobias Ellwood , on behalf of the Foreign Office, gave this evidence to the Northern Ireland affairs Committee.

Q133 “if there is some assistance that I can provide for when there is a Libyan government to deal with”

Q134 “until there is a government in Libya for us to work with , we cannot pursue any of those aspects”

This same canard, that there is nobody at the helm in Libya is repeated ad nauseam by Cameron and other Tory ministers.

Unfortunately at least one member of the Committee believes this to be the state of affairs in Libya. This all in response to the question as to why compensation for terrorism has not been paid by Libya.

Let’s see what the FCO has been telling other Commons Committees.

“The UK’s [sic] provides significant political , security and economic support to a nascent democratic Libya on a cross- Whitehall basis, driven by the National Security Council (NSC) Strategy for Libya.”

“Total UK humanitarian support to the Libya Crisis was £17.2 million”

This does not take account of the £212 million spent by the UK on Operation Ellamay, the bombing of our former friend Gadafy.

Readers may recall that Libyan troops were being trained at Bassingbourn. A number committed crimes on the local populace and the contract was cancelled. Here is what the FCO said about the lost costs.

“Through the Libyan  Embassy in London we continue with efforts to secure reimbursement from the Libyan Government.”

WHAT! There is a Libyan Government after all?

It gets worse Dear Reader.

“UK ministers continue to speak to and meet their Libyan counterparts  and HMG is recognised by Libyan political , military and militia leadership as a trusted interlocutor.”  [Let’s just leave aside the chronology of the number of times HMG has changed sides in Libya recently]

“Since 2011 there has continued to be sustained and high level Ministerial engagement on Libya. The Foreign Secretary most recently met with the Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Dairi on 21 August 2015.”

Then , interestingly, this passage.

“We also want to see a just solution for all the victims of Qadhafi-sponsored terrorism. HMG considers compensation claims by the victims to be private matters, best pursued directly with the Libyan Government.”

Now somewhat contradicted , you might think by Ellwood’s undertakings to the committee.

The bottom line is this. There is a Libyan Government, HMG and the FCO talk to it regularly. There is a Libyan Embassy in London. All that is missing is a willingness by HMG to act.

They acted for WPC Fletcher and the victims of the Lockerbie bombing. They are chasing up a debt with the Libyan Embassy.

Why do the victims of Libyan Semtex, supplied  to  PIRA not count? Has it something to do with  PIRA?

Paul Tweed and the Klondike Cases

Yesterday, Paul Tweed, solicitor, appeared before the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, representing Michael Gallagher and others who were the victims of the Omagh bombing.

In his written submission he took the unusual step of expressing his personal views. Lawyers , by convention, leave their personal views at the door of the court.  Mr Tweed said that it was his personal view that it was morally and possibly legally wrong that a limited number of victims should be entitled to receive exemplary compensation “in total disregard for the sacrifice and entitlement of other victims”. I deal with the stupidity of this remark below.

In his oral evidence, under the protection  of privilege , he described such payments as “Klondike” and “football pools” awards.

Let’s stop and have a think about Mr Tweed’s expressed personal views on the matter.

He describes himself on LinkedIn as “an international media lawyer” in fact one of the “world’s highest profile media lawyers”. He lists the A-list Hollywood stars that are his clients.

He majors in defamation cases for them. [For non-lawyers, that is when someone hurts your feelings]

He secured for Barney Eastwood , a very rich man, an award from a Belfast jury of £450,000.

Recently he represented Louis Walsh, some sort of impresario, I believe, and got him an award of 500,000 Euros.

I wonder how Mr Tweed’s personal moral compass was set for those awards? Neither has been killed, shot, bombed, maimed or suffered PTSD.

Well, Dear Reader, some facts.

  1. Mr Tweed does not represent me or over a hundred other Claimants who took formal legal action in the American courts in April 2006.
  2. He has no idea what my pain suffering or loss is or more importantly the more serious suffering of others. Take Zaoui Berezag, left blind, paralysed and brain damaged after the 1996 Docklands bomb. I wonder if he is a Tweed Klondike Case?
  3. Mr Tweed spoke of a select group of victims getting all the attention. He failed to mention or perhaps he is ignorant of the attempts by Jason McCue and others , since April 2011 to secure an additional wider fund for other victims of Gadafy’s supply of Semtex.
  4. The fact that Mr Tweed was not even aware of this Parliamentary enquiry until recently speaks volumes about his attention to it. But when the A-lister calls….

Paul Tweed’s remarks do not wound me in the way that some rich sensitive client of his might be hurt. He has a greater opinion of himself than I do of him. The likelihood is , though , that someone far worse off than me will be distressed by his insensitive remarks.

I wonder would he seize an opportunity to retract them? Or make them again without the protection of Parliamentary privilege?

Nine point four billion pounds

This is the value of frozen assets held in the UK and related to Gadafy, his family, his government officials and various Libyan institutions.

It does not reflect the additional  amount of money Gadafy gave Sinn Fein/IRA or the value of the arms, ammunition and Semtex he gave them.

Hundreds of people were killed as a result of this terrorism. No-one in Libya  and none of the SF/IRA leaders ,such as Martin McGuinness have been prosecuted for this.

Not one of the UK victims has been compensated , while citizens of USA, France and Germany have been paid long ago.

The lesson that Britain sends is that terrorism pays. In fact Blair kissed Gadafy in a tent and the FCO forgave Libya.

Relatives of the Tunisian atrocity should take note. Your government will not help you and that’s official.

Ambassador, you’re confusing us!

Next week Sir Vincent Fean, KCVO, is scheduled to give evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. Sir Vincent was educated at Saint Theodore’s Roman Catholic High School and the University of Sheffield and speaks Arabic. According to the  Oxford Research Group , the retired ambassador is particularly interested in Libya’s future.

On 8 June 2008, he wrote to Tony Blair , re the talks between Libya and the USA, in the following terms:

“HMG is not involved in the talks , although some British Citizens might be affected by them [Lockerbie plus some Northern Irish litigants].

It remains a UK objective to promote the City of London as a safe and profitable place for Libya to invest its Sovereign Wealth Fund through the Libyan Investment Authority, which  we hope will open a London office this year.”

He then went on to extol the virtues of selling some arms to Gadafy, a contract worth £400 million  to the UK .

When Sir Vincent appears I will be interested to hear him respond to the following questions.

  1. Having established that Gadafy funded the IRA and provided the Semtex which killed hundreds in the UK, was it OK to be his friend?
  2. Having known about Gadafy’s human rights abuses, was he satisfied that the money to be invested was not stolen from Gadafy’s subjects?
  3. When is money the proceeds of crime and when is it legitimate, or does that depend on which arms company is twisting the Ambassador’s arm?

Small chocolate, anyone?

Emma Pengelly Part II

Readers will know that for many years I have been involved in the campaign to have the killers of my parents prosecuted and for hundreds of people to be compensated for the use of Semtex  by Martin McGuinness and his fellow terrorists, who are in government with the DUP.

I blogged about Emma Pengelly and she emailed me today to say that she finds my blog “both unfair and upsetting”. Leaving aside the DUP inactivity on either of my campaigns, I’m sure there are many politicians who share her emotions about my blogging about them.

She says that she is not a “blow in” having lived in South Belfast for about a decade. Given the size and geographic spread of the constituency, that could be said by anyone in Sandy Row, the Malone Road or Carryduff. But ask Ruth Patterson for a more intimate view.

Secondly she says that she did not support a cap on self employed barristers “in the context in which it was being discussed”. You decide, Dear Reader.

Thirdly she says that she has “a full mandate”. An extraordinary claim in the circumstances. Nobody has ever voted for her.

Fourthly she says that it is outrageous that I mention her husband’s salary. Well, is not her point to Jim Allister about the payment of money by the state?

Fifthly she objects to the use of the word “comfort”. That word  has been in the public domain for a long time.

Lastly , she suggests that I have attempted “to publicly humiliate her” and added a little note of menace, something the DUP majors in. Ask Jamie Bryson.

When she was appointed I wished her well. I hoped that she might be that ‘breath of fresh air” that we often seek in our politics.

Sadly, by her willingness to get embroiled in a spat with Jim Allister, she displayed all the weaknesses of her boss and of the party in general. Arrogance and willing to spend more time rubbishing unionists than SinnFein/IRA.

I’m disappointed by her and that’s in less than a month.

Anyway, what’s that saying about the heat and the kitchen?

Invest NI Money before principles

In 2014 Invest NI led a delegation to Libya while that country refused to compensate victims for the harm caused by their supply of Semtex to PIRA.

Of course, it was a delegation approved by the DUP and particularly by Arlene Foster, who should know , more than most , what Gadafy did here.

It raises the question ,posed most remarkably by Jamie Bryson, does this state exist for the aggrandisement of the few at the expense of the many?

What does the DUP really stand for? Corruption, fracking, land grabbing , planning scams, sexual misdemeanours, anti-gay angst, queer sects and more?

Noel Johnston, of Invest NI said “Libya is becoming an important place for our companies.” How interesting for those whose family members are dead, maimed or crippled at their hands.