London: The British Government is reported to have brokered a secret deal with the Colonel Muammar Gaddafi regime worth up to GBP 10 billion before Libya descended into chaos.
According to a report in the Sunday Telegraph, for the past 18 months a dedicated Foreign Office unit had been supporting lawyers fighting to win compensation for UK victims of IRA bombs built with Libyan-supplied explosives. The team was in the advanced stages of discussing a “Victims’ Initiative” package with key members of Gaddafi’s regime.
The possible agreement would have included payouts for the 150 families of those killed and injured bringing the claim, as well as a huge “cultural and social” investment focusing on reconciliation projects, much of it in Northern Ireland.
Now, there are fears that any agreement might now be in jeopardy because of the turmoil in Libya.
Insiders said that since the Coalition came to power last May, Government efforts to secure a deal had been stepped up, with David Cameron and William Hague taking a personal interest in the talks.
Sources said the agreement would have seen Libya committing between GBP 2 billion and GBP 10 billion to the UK, as part of an effort to detoxify “Brand Libya”.
It is thought that up to a billion pounds might have been shared between the 150 claimants. The rest of the money would have been spent supporting other victims of the IRA’s Libyan Semtex bombs who have not been involved in the legal action, as well as wider educational and medical schemes to help all communities affected by the Troubles.