Libya fears 'new compensation bid' in Lockerbie investigation

 

Libyan authorities fear compensation is the motive behind fresh investigations into the Lockerbie bombing, MPs were told today.

Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said there were "apprehensions" in "some quarters" that hopes of re-opening existing settlements were fuelling inquiries.

He told the Commons foreign affairs committee the UK was continuing to "make the case" for Scottish police to have access to the state but there are concerns that must be "got over".

Mr Burt intends to revisit to Libya soon and insisted the "legacy issues" remained a "matter of high priority" for the UK.

They also include the case of WPc Fletcher, who was shot dead while policing a protest outside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984.

"There's some concern in some quarters, not in relation to WPc Fletcher but in relation to other cases that there is a matter of re-opening compensation and we are busy seeking to dissuade people that isn't the case."

Confirming he was talking about the Lockerbie bombing, Mr Burt added: "I don't believe there are institutional barriers to that but there are other apprehensions to get over.

"We continue to make the case that the Dumfries and Galloway police must have access and must be able to get on with that investigation."

He added: "There is an apprehension in some parts of the Libyan structure that this is about re-opening compensation that they believe was dealt with in the past where as we are keen to make the case supporting those who are conducting the investigation that it is about finding out the truth of the matter."

In February a formal submission was sent to the Libyan Government requesting access to the country for police and prosecutors who want to examine information and documents relating to lines of inquiry.

The Libyan National Transitional Council has previously confirmed to the UK Government that it will assist the ongoing criminal investigation.

A total of 270 people were killed when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie on December 21 1988.

Abdelbaset al Megrahi is the only man to have been convicted of the atrocity and he was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001 but it has been widely accepted that he did not act alone.

Mr Burt told the committee delays in investigators accessing the state in relation to WPc Fletcher's death were down to the "capacity" of the Libyan authorities.

The Metropolitan Police inquiry into her murder remains open and officers want to travel to Libya to continue their investigation.

Mr Burt said: "The most important thing in relation to WPc Fletcher is to get the Metropolitan police back as quickly as possible and we are still working on a date for this with the Libyan authorities.

"The capacity of the Libyan authorities at the moment is understandably limited because of the circumstances in which they are operating."

He added: "Their commitment has been genuine. They do know from us how important these issues are.

"We have commitment but they are not in a position to follow through yet."

PA

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