Lockerbie Bombing

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:56 pm on 31st January 2001.

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Photo of Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale Government Whip 3:56 pm, 31st January 2001

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement of Her Majesty's Government on the Lockerbie bombing which is being made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. The Statement is as follows:

"Almost two years ago, I announced that we had secured the agreement of the Libyan Government to the surrender of the two men charged with the Lockerbie bombing. That agreement brought an end to almost a decade of diplomatic stalemate. It was made possible by a unique legal innovation--a trial before Scottish judges under Scots law in a third country.

"I want to record our gratitude to the Government of the Netherlands and to their local authorities for their ready and full co-operation in making available the excellent facilities at Camp Zeist. Their co-operation has confirmed the reputation of the Netherlands as a seat of international justice. I have today written to the Dutch Foreign Minister formally recording our thanks.

"The whole House will wish to express its appreciation of the work of the police in what has been one of the longest and largest investigations in British history. Dumfries and Galloway police and the other police forces who co-operated in the inquiry are entitled to credit for the evidence brought before the court.

"The trial has been open and its proceedings have been punctilious. It is widely agreed that it has proved the fair trial which we promised.

"The panel of Scottish judges has now returned their verdict. They unanimously found guilty Mr Al Megrahi, an official of the Libyan Intelligence Service. They acquitted Mr Fhimah.

"We accept the verdicts of the court. Mr Al Megrahi is reported to intend to appeal. The House will understand that in the circumstances I will not comment on the substance of the legal arguments.

"However, the House will wish to know what international action the Government intend to take in the light of these verdicts.

"The initiative to hold the trial at Camp Zeist was taken by Britain and secured by agreement with the Governments of the Netherlands, the United States and Libya. But we made those arrangements in accordance with the resolution of a UN Security Council, which is binding on all member states.

"Libya has complied with some of the requirements of the Security Council, such as handing over the two suspects. In the light of the guilty verdict, we expect the Libyan Government to fulfil the remaining requirements. We therefore require Libya to accept responsibility for the act of its official who has been convicted. We also require Libya to pay compensation to the victims of the relatives.

"Before coming to the House this afternoon, I spoke by telephone to Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State. We are both clear that Libya must now fulfil the requirements of the Security Council in full. We both committed our Governments to close co-operation to achieve those common objectives. I will be able to continue that consultation with Colin Powell when I meet him in Washington next week.

"It is also in Libya's own interests to be seen to co-operate fully with the Security Council. In the light of the conviction of one of their senior intelligence officials, Libya's leaders need to take every opportunity to prove to the international community that they have definitively renounced terrorism and will abide by international law.

"The Lockerbie bombing stands among the most brutal acts of mass murder. The community of Lockerbie suffered a sudden and devastating tragedy. I spoke after the verdicts to my honourable friend the Member for Dumfries, who is today with the local people, who have borne their tragedy with great dignity.

"Every passenger and crew member of PanAm 103 was killed. That night, more than 400 parents lost a child, 76 women and men lost husbands or wives and seven children lost both parents. Nothing can repair the loss of those who were murdered that night or remove the grief of their relatives, but today, at last, those relatives know that in a fair trial before an open court, justice has been done."

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.