The Government faces fresh allegations that it failed to act on an intercepted order from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to open fire on demonstrators at a London protest where a policewoman was murdered.
An order by the then Libyan leader to “cover the streets of London with blood” was allegedly intercepted and translated by intelligence services the night before the shooting of PC Yvonne Fletcher, but was not passed on by the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) listening post at Cheltenham until after the murder, The Times reported last night.
PC Fletcher, 25, was shot as she monitored a demonstration by anti-Gaddafi students outside the Libyan embassy in St James's Square in April 1984.
A colleague who was at PC Fletcher’s side as she lay dying told the newspaper that he intended to mount legal action against the Government over its alleged failings.
John Murray, an GCHQ technology officer at the time, said he was speaking publicly because Miss Fletcher’s relatives deserved “to get a handle on the truth”. “I do hold GCHQ partly responsible for Yvonne’s murder because it could have been prevented,” he said.
The shooting, which led to a 15-year-break in diplomatic relations between Britain and Libya, is the only murder of a police officer in the past 30 years to remain unsolved.
Numerous visits to Libya by Metropolitan Police investigators during the Gaddafi era went nowhere, partly because at least two of those who directed the killing, Matouk Mohammed Matouk and Abdelgadir Mohammed Baghdadi, held key positions in the Tripoli regime.
Since the 2011 revolution, however, new avenues of inquiry have opened up, though Matouk has not been seen while Baghdadi was killed in the fall of Tripoli.
Mr Murray, 58, told The Times: “It defies belief that nothing was done at the time. It’s absolutely disgraceful. If they had seen it there’s no doubt at all that that demonstration wouldn’t have been allowed to go ahead.
“As a result of that warning that wasn’t acted on, I do hold GCHQ partly responsible for Yvonne’s murder because it could have been prevented.”
A spokesman for GCHQ told the newspaper that it did not comment on operational matters.