The Libyan Prime Minister, Shukri Ghanem, gave an interview to the Today programme on Radio 4 on 24 February (transcript here), and blurted out the awful truth that Libya has not accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing in December 1988, nor for the killing of policewoman Yvonne Fletcher in April 1984.
regards the Lockerbie bombing, he said that
A: Because it is a case that we came to a conclusion that we reached an agreement in which we feel that we bought peace. We, after a while and after the sanctions, and after the problems we have faced because of the sanctions, the loss of money, and we thought that it was easier for us to buy peace, and this is why we agreed on compensation. Therefore we said, let us buy peace, let us put the whole case behind us and let us look forward.
Q: So payment of compensation didn't mean any acceptance of guilt?
A: I agree with that, and this is why I said we bought peace.
nothing new in this: Colonel Gaddafi explained the decision to pay compensation
in those terms last year. But the British people were not supposed to
In the course of settling the dispute over Lockerbie last August, the UK and the US governments agreed a formula with Libya, which, while it didn’t say Libya accepted responsibility, it allowed the UK and the US governments to give the impression to their people (and in particular to the victims’ families) that Libya had pleaded guilty.
element in that formula was that
“has facilitated the bringing to justice of the two suspects charged with the bombing of Pan Am 103, and accepts responsibility for the actions of its officials” (paragraph 3)
That doesn’t say anything about the guilt or otherwise of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the bombing, in the greatest miscarriage of justice of our time (see The Lockerbie Trial: A Perverse Verdict, Problems of Capitalism & Socialism, No 64-5, March 2001). It is generally believed that the two suspects, only one of whom was convicted, were members of the Libyan intelligence service, and therefore Libyan “officials”, but the letter doesn’t even admit that.
It was a key element in the
settlement. It even appears in
resolution 1506, which welcomes
Jack Straw also repeated the formula in the House of Commons on 5 January this year when he made a statement on Libya giving up “weapons of mass destruction” (which it never had); he said that discussions with Libya over several years had led “to Libya agreeing to pay compensation to the families of those killed at Lockerbie, and to the Libyans accepting full responsibility for the actions of their officials”.
Foreign Office Minister, Denis McShane,
issued a press statement on 15 August last year, announcing the
the worst terrorist incident on
The last sentence is simply a lie. But, happily for the Government, the press
didn’t read the letter that followed and discover it was a lie. It was universally reported that
Jack Straw repeated the lie in a press statement on 12 September, welcoming the passing of resolution 1506, and once more the press obliged by reporting the lie as fact.
The Government’s deception of the public was successful thanks to the press, which printed what it was told without question. The Libyan Prime Minister lifted the curtain on this deception in his Today interview. However, with the assistance of the press, the deception has been reconstituted.
For example, on 25 February the Guardian diplomatic editor, Ewan MacAskill, wrote a report on the Today interview. In it, he repeated the official lie twice, saying:
“The recent improvement in relations
(A correction supplied to the Guardian by the present writer was not published, even though the Guardian is forever congratulating itself on its willingness to correct mistakes).
This was contrasted with the Libyan Prime Minister’s denial of responsibility on Today.
The next day, another report by MacAskill
was published with the headline
Nevertheless, MacAskill interprets this as an official repudiation by the Libya Government of what Libyan Prime Minister Ghanem said on Today.
Pravda never served the state better than that.
his Today interview, the Libyan Prime Minister also refused to accept
responsibility for the killing of WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan
People’s Bureau in
British Government has always insisted that the bullet that killed Yvonne
Fletcher came from the Libyan Embassy and that a Libyan “official” was
It should be said that their proposition that the bullet did not come from the Libyan Embassy is not risible. A Dispatches programme broadcast on Channel 4 TV in April 1996 came to the conclusion that the trajectory of the bullet, as shown by the autopsy, indicated that it came from the upper floors of an adjacent building, and not from the first floor of the Libyan Embassy, as the inquest concluded. The Libyan Embassy, which was only five floors high, did not have a high enough elevation to be the source of the fatal bullet. Also, according to the Dispatches programme, British and American intelligence services had a surveillance post on the upper floors of 3 St James’s Square, two doors away from the Libyan Embassy.
As part of its rapprochement with
No going back
It can be
The rapprochement with
And at such a convenient time too, when no “weapons
of mass destruction” had been found in
Prime Minister Ghanem was
also asked in the Today interview about weapons supplied by
“No one has suffered from
terrorism more than we did. During the Second World War the Allies and the Axis
decided to fight each other and from all other places they came to
“They put millions of mines on our ground. Still to this day people are getting killed because of these mines and we did not get compensation. And of course if we are talking about compensation, no one deserves maybe compensation more than we do.”
Labour & Trade Union Review