FCDO REFUSE FOIA REQUEST TO RELEASE REPORT INTO LIBYAN SUPPLY OF SEMTEX TO PARAMILITARY GROUPS DURING THE CONFLICT
William Shawcross was asked by the FCO (now the FCDO) to undertake an investigation into the supply of Semtex to paramilitary groups during the Conflict in Northern Ireland. His report was delivered to the FCO on 3 August 2020.
KRW LAW LLP is instructed by Seamus O’Sullivan who was injured in a PIRA bomb detonated on the Falls Road, West Belfast 7 July 1988. The PSNI will not confirm whether the bomb was a Semtex device.
On notification that Shawcross had delivered his report to the FCO, KRW requested that it be published by way of a FOIA request. On 22 December 2020, the FCDO refused that request. KRW have requested an internal review of that decision. There is a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner Office which KRW will lodge depending on the outcome of the internal review given the importance of this report to the out-workings of the Legacy of the Conflict in Northern Ireland following a request to the FCDO to review its decision.
In addition, victims of Qadhafi-sponsored violence continue to search for reparations from the Libyan authorities. The international community froze the billions of dollars of assets accumulated by the Qadhafi regime which supported violence throughout the duration of the Conflict.
The FOIA request was refused by the FCDO in its entirety on the basis that the report relates to the formulation of government policy. It was also refused on the grounds of National Security, that it would prejudice international relations, that is would prejudice relations with the Northern Ireland Executive, and that it contains personal information and information provided in confidence.
We also requested clarification of the status of the report as the FCO originally described it as a ‘scoping report’ with some form of interim status which exempted it from FOIA. This request for clarification was also refused.
This issue has been examined by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee (NIAC). The chair of NIAC has warned the Foreign Secretary he will use his full parliamentary powers to force publication of the report. KRW will send the FOIA refusal to NIAC and continue to support attempts to publish the Shawcross Report in its entirety that it is in the public interest to do so.