Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has been asked to give evidence into a parliamentary inquiry into compensation for Libyan-backed IRA atrocities, including victims of the 1996 Docklands bomb.
It is a considerable coup for the Docklands Victims Association which has been campaigning for money to help those still living with the injuries of an event that happened nearly 20 years ago when a bomb ripped through South Quay, killing two and injuring 39.
The late Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi supplied Semtex to the IRA during the Troubles and victims want compensation from his frozen assets. US victims were recompensed but their UK counterparts were not. This may be because Mr Blair made extraordinary efforts to appease the despised dictator to secure lucrative business deals.
Westminster’s Northern Ireland Affairs Committee is examining whether the Government made sufficient efforts to seek redress and has asked Mr Blair to respond to concerns, firstly in writing but possibly later in person.
Committee’s chairman Laurence Robertson has written to the former prime minister to ask about his involvement in negotiations eight years ago that left UK victims out of the deal.
Mr Robertson’s letter states: “There is a real sense amongst the victims that an opportunity to include them in the agreement reached between the US and Libya was missed in 2008. The committee is keen to shed some light on this and, in doing so, maybe provide some kind of closure for the victims.”
He told Mr Blair the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee was offering him the “opportunity to submit written evidence to its inquiry to respond to the concerns raised and to clarify your role at the time”.
Mr Blair has until October 23 to reply.
“Based on this, the committee may decide to invite you to give oral evidence,” the letter said.
Victims’ lawyer Jason McCue said: “The lives of the UK victims and their families seem to have been sacrificed for the benefit of half a billion pounds’ worth of celebrated business deals that never fully transpired.
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“Mr Blair’s answers may be the key to revealing finally how this failure of duty of care transpired during his government, and successive British governments.”
President of the Docklands Victims Association Jonathan Ganesh said: "I'm very pleased that the committee has requested evidence from Mr Blair. I feel the committee had no other option but to call him as he can provide vital answers."
Meanwhile ex-ambassador Sir Vincent Fean, who has knowledge of the dealings between the dictator, the prime minister and President George W Bush is due to give oral evidence on Wednesday (October 14).