'Is government sifting tax from Libyan frozen assets while refusing IRA victims compensation?' MPs' report asks
PUBLISHED: 10:00 09 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:04 09 April 2019
A report to Parliament today is demanding to know why the government may be taking tax revenue from Libyan assets while Docklands and other victims of IRA atrocities fuelled by Semtex supplied by Gaddafi have been refused any compensation.
Revenue may have been collected from the frozen assets now worth £12 billion held in London since Gaddafi’s fall in 2011, it has emerged, while UK victims have been denied anything over the years.
IRA atrocities using Libyan Semtex include the Midland Bank HQ bombing in Canary Wharf in 1996, when two men were killed and more than 50 people injured.
The blast shook Millwall’s Barkantine estate nearby—but families whose lives were devastated by the impact have never received a penny from the Libyans while American, French and German victims have been compensated.
The revelations about tax revenue in the Commons report by the Northern Ireland Affairs committee has shocked the Docklands Victims’ Association set up 10 years ago to fight for justice.
“We’ve been refused any percentage of the revenue while the Treasury has taken tax from Gaddafi’s assets,” its president Jonathan Ganesh told the East London Advertiser.
“Victims have desperate needs, some having to sell their homes to pay for long-term care and one even taking their own life.”
Jonathan was badly injured himself as a security guard at the Bank who had to be rescued from the rubble when the IRA detonated a van packed with explosives next to the building.
The government has always maintained it was under obligation to the UN to keep all Libyan assets frozen.
But there was no hint until today’s Commons report that tax revenue was being taken, which Docklands campaigners say could have helped surviving victims down the years.
The Semtex supplied to the Provisional IRA in the 1980s led to a deadly 20-year campaign of bombings across the UK, including Harrod’s and the Regents Park Royal Horse Guards as well as Canary Wharf and Bishopsgate.
The findings follow a chain of correspondence with the Foreign Office, the Treasury and HM Revenue which shows the government “could be levying significant amounts of tax”.
MPs argue that “continued inaction” has led to time running out for many victims.
Northern Ireland committee chair Dr Andrew Murrison said: “The government may have been scooping up big tax receipts from Libyan assets, a small part of which could help victims.
“Some proceeds should be used to finance a victims compensation fund if it is collecting tax, pending compensation from the Libyan authorities.”
His committee is demanding the government negotiates with Libya for a compensation deal, that it admits whether any tax is collected and how much, discloses what licences were issued to release funds and explains why a victims’ fund still hasn’t been set up if tax is being collected.
But any negotiations would once again be stalled by the virtual civil war now raging in Libya.