Libya

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 1:45 pm on 12th March 1997.

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Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow 1:45 pm, 12th March 1997

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he has taken in respect of sanctions against Libya in the last 10 days. [18306]

Photo of Sir Nicholas Bonsor Sir Nicholas Bonsor , Upminster

As part of a continuing process, we have in the past 10 days reaffirmed to five Governments that sanctions must remain in place until the Lockerbie accused are brought to trial in Scotland or the United States.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

Is it not to be marvelled at that, five long minutes ago, the Foreign Secretary said that we must have sanctions against Libya, but not against Iran? The contrast is extraordinary. This was a crime that the Iranians may well have committed and which the Libyans almost certainly did not. Have any of the five Ministers sitting on the Front Bench seen with their own eyes—a Scottish QC might have been curious about this—what evidence the Crown Office adduces in the case against Libya?

On the Americans, having drawn the attention of Ministers to Paris Match, The Scotsman and the case of James Thurman, who is accused of forging forensic evidence, has any Minister found out whether Britain has any evidence against Libya that does not depend on dubious, dodgy American sources?

Photo of Sir Nicholas Bonsor Sir Nicholas Bonsor , Upminster

The hon. Gentleman has managed to fit four questions into one but, with your indulgence, Madam Speaker, I shall answer all four. On Iran, my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary said that the problem is that the United Nations Security Council would be most unlikely to consent to sanctions. In the case of Libya, we are dealing with United Nations Security Council sanctions. On the evidence against the Libyan accused, I am satisfied that we have evidence—

Photo of Sir Nicholas Bonsor Sir Nicholas Bonsor , Upminster

I shall come to that.

I am satisfied that we have evidence that justifies taking the case forward. I say that not because I have seen the evidence but because three successive Lords Advocate have examined it. They are all leading lawyers and they are all satisfied that there is evidence that justifies us in pursuing the case. The hon. Gentleman has no reason to criticise that approach.

On his fourth question, it is true that Mr. Thurman has been transferred—not suspended—but the case against the Libyans does not depend on any evidence that he might give. Forensic analysis was also done at the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment. Professor Caddy made it clear that the evidence in that case and others was a true measure of the presence of the explosive RDX.