KRW LAW LLP (KRW) is representing relatives of victims with a direct interest in the on-going concerns of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee (NIAC) on the British government’s support for victims of Conflict-related murders and other violent attacks that used Semtex supplied to the IRA by the Qadhafi-Libyan regime.


On Wednesday, this week NIAC has summoned William Shawcross who was commissioned by the Foreign Office to produce a report into this matter. His report was delivered last year but has yet to be made public.[i]


KRW has a pending Freedom of Information request to gain access to the report which the FCO have now re-classified as ‘interim’ and therefore not available to the public. The FCO rejected our FOIA request saying that that report was exempt because of international relations, national security, and policy. We are awaiting the outcome of an Internal Review of that decision.


We have previously briefed NIAC on our concerns in this matter. Today, we have written to those MPs from Northern Ireland who are members of NIAC. Specifically, these MPs represents families of those killed using Libyan supplied Semtex living in their respective constituencies.


Today an FCO Ministerial Statement was published in advance of the NIAC hearing.[ii] The position of the British government is:


“The Government’s considered view is that an additional, UK-funded mechanism for providing compensation to victims of the Troubles would not provide accountability for the specific role of the Qadhafi regime in supporting the IRA.”




“regrettably, the UK has no legal basis to seize frozen Libyan assets or to refuse the release of frozen assets. The Government cannot lawfully use Libyan assets frozen in the UK to provide compensation to victims.”




“The responsibility for providing compensation specifically for the actions of the Qadhafi regime is the direct responsibility of the Libyan State. It is not therefore for the UK Government to divert UK public funds specifically for this particular purpose.”


NIAC will focus its probing of William Shawcross on the failure of the FCO to publish his report, on potential compensation payments to UK victims of Qadhafi-sponsored IRA terrorism and the ability and desirability of the use of Libyan assets to fund such compensation.


We have suggested to the MPs that they probe Mr Shawcross on the following:


Does he know in how many incidents in Northern Ireland was Libyan Semtex or weaponry used? If so, which incidents? Also, did he assess whether there was Libyan involvement or was the information provided to him?


Did his report analyse any incident or incidents to see if there was Libyan involvement in the training or supply of materials to those involved in the incident? If so, which cases?


In order to prepare his report did he consider the facts and circumstances of any incident in Northern Ireland?


Barry O’Donnell, Associate Solicitor, KRW said:


“NIAC have taken an important step in summoning William Shawcross to be questioned on his report. The British government must explain its position on Qadhafi-Libyan sponsored IRA terrorism to relatives of victims and survivors and provide financial compensation from the billions of dollars-worth of Libyan funds frozen by the international community. This is what Shawcross was commissioned to investigate and he must be able to explain his findings and recommendations. It would appear that today’s Ministerial Statement is another piece of political choreography designed to undermine the authority of NIAC and to frustrate the hopes and expectations of victims and survivors of Qadhafi-Libyan sponsored IRA terrorism.”


[i] Committees – UK Parliament The virtual meeting with William Shawcross will take place on 24 March 2021 from 09:30.

[ii] Written statements – Written questions, answers and statements – UK Parliament