Northern Ireland news

Met police award for MP Laurence Robertson for championing IRA bomb victims

The scene at Market square, Lisburn after the IRA planted a 7lb Semtex bomb under an army transit van. Six soldiers from Derry taking part in charity fun run were killed in the June 1988 blast
Michael McHugh

A PARLIAMENTARIAN who led compensation calls for victims of IRA attacks that used Libyan explosives has received a special Metropolitan Police shield from those he championed.

Laurence Robertson's Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster accused successive British governments of a litany of missed chances to secure payouts from the North African state for deaths and injuries of victims including officers from Scotland Yard.

In December 1983, a republican bomb containing Semtex imported from Libya exploded at Harrods department store in central London, killing three police officers and three members of the public.

Among those to die were Inspector Stephen Dodd, 34, of the Met.

His daughter Susanne Dodd said: "My father and all those left disabled were treated very badly by successive UK governments.

"US victims who were left severely disabled in the Harrods attack were compensated because their government held (Muammar) Gaddafi to account.

"Our Government disgraced my brave dad and everyone else."

In 1996, another IRA bomb ripped through the centre of London's Docklands, wrecking one of the country's largest financial and economic hubs and killing two people.

Jonathan Ganesh, president of the Docklands Victims Association (DVA), said: "This award, presented to Mr Robertson in recognition of his and the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee's courage and humanity, brings hope not just to IRA victims but to all victims of terror throughout the world."

Mr Robertson stepped down as chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee before the General Election earlier this year.

Previous Libyan authorities armed the Provisionals with massive amounts of weaponry, extending the Troubles and causing enormous human suffering, his committee said in a report published earlier this year.

Bombings using Gaddafi's weapons included Harrods department store in 1983, an Enniskillen Remembrance Day ceremony in 1987, Warrington in 1993, and London Docklands in 1996.

Victims of IRA attacks using Libyan Semtex, a plastic explosive, are pressing for UK Government support in their campaign for compensation from massive amounts of frozen assets seized from the toppled Gaddafi administration.

While the US, France and Germany negotiated multimillion-pound settlements with Gaddafi for its citizens impacted by Libyan-directed terrorism, the previous Labour government in the UK has been heavily criticised for not striking a similar deal.

Inam Bashir was a newsagent killed in the Docklands bombing.

His mother Hamida Bashir said Mr Robertson cared about her son and all the other children killed by Gaddafi.

"I do not want or will not accept any money for the loss of my son but those left disabled must be helped.

"How can it be that a US, France and Germany life is more valuable than a UK life? All life must be equally valued.

"The UK government made me cry. Why did they not hold Gaddafi to account like other governments did?"

The Foreign Office has previously said it supports UK victims of Gaddafi-sponsored IRA terrorism in their attempts to seek redress from Libyan authorities.

ends

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