» Monday, September 7, 2009

Libya Compensation

Asked why the Prime Minister decided to give his backing to the campaign, the Prime Minister s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that it was not possible to reach a direct agreement between the UK and Libyan governments.

When the Prime Minister met the families in December, the Prime Minister had made it clear that he wanted to support them in their legal representations to the Libyan authorities. What the Prime Minister had done yesterday was to set out the form of that support; Foreign Office officials in Tripoli would work directly with the families. This was consistent and in line with what the Prime Minister had said in the exchange of letters and also with his discussions with the families.

Asked if the officials had already been in touch with the families, the PMS said that that would be the next stage. Officials would work specifically with the families, but in terms of the process, the Foreign Office would put that in place in the future.

Put that the Foreign Office had said last week that they believed there was little point in trying to negotiate on this point only for the Prime Minister to now say that that he would support the appeal, the PMS replied that Foreign Office officials would be there to support the families. This was for the families to take forward with the help of Government facilitation. There had been a very supportive statement from the families themselves.

Asked to clarify what facilitate would mean in this instance, the PMS said that British officials would attend meetings. It was not their brief to negotiate. Asked why the Government did not pursue this matter earlier given that Libya did pay money to the US, the PMS said he would look into the background of the case.

Put that this could be seen as a wild goose-chase, the PMS said he did not think so; this was what the families had wanted, it was something that would involve lawyers on either side and it was important to support the families in their legal representations to the Libyan authorities.

Asked how confident the Prime Minister was of any success in the appeal being made, the PMS replied that this had only just been announced and to offer a view on the outcome would not be sensible. Asked if it was the case that the Prime Minister had only moved on this after receiving some kind of indication on its outcome, the PMS said that this was always a possible next step given the exchange of letters and the discussions he had had with the families.

Put that the Prime Minister had talked about having normal relations with Libya and wasn t part of that being able to raise such subjects with them, the PMS said this was a highly sensitive and complex case, therefore it was not surprising that this route was necessary. Asked if there had been any formal agreement with Libya not to raise this issue in the past, the PMS said there had been no such agreement.

Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with the families argument for compensation, the PMS referred people back to the letters the Prime Minister had sent, which made his response to the families and what they were trying to achieve very clear.

Asked when the Foreign Office knew they would be supplying a special team and when would it be up and running, the PMS said that there had been some support along these lines already and this would enhance that support. There was a family visit in the next few weeks, so the team would need to be in place by then. If there was more information from the Foreign Office, we would make that available to people. Asked when the FCO were made aware that they would be putting a team in place and was that before this weekend, the PMS replied that they had always been aware that they needed to provide advice to families but this enhancement had only taken place at the weekend.

Put that Jeffrey Donaldson was going on a mission to Libya shortly and given that he was a member of the Irish Assembly shouldn t the Foreign Office be helping him, the PMS said that he was sure it would be tightly coordinated.

Asked if the Prime Minister could see the irony in soldiers dying in Afghanistan for democracy and Government officials speaking to the son of a dictator in Libya, the PMS replied that the British Government had to deal with states around the world in different stages of their development. We had an important relationship with Libya and people would not expect the Government to speak just to those states that were at a particular stage of democratic development.

original source.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

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