Lockerbie Bombing

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:06 pm on 31st January 2001.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Williams of Crosby Baroness Williams of Crosby Liberal Democrat 4:06 pm, 31st January 2001

My Lords, I, too, express my deep gratitude to the Minister for repeating the Statement made by the Foreign Secretary in another place. The outcome vindicates the capacity of the international community for an astonishing level of co-operation. The noble Lord, Lord Howell, referred to the intervention of President Mandela, as he then was, in helping to bring the situation about. Kofi Annan of the United Nations and, I understand, the Organisation of African Unity, also helped.

I also echo the tribute paid by both Front Benches to the Netherlands Government. As the co-chairman of the Anglo-Dutch Society, I believe that the outcome vindicates the commitment that the Netherlands Government have always made to the international rule of law.

Finally on that point, great credit should be given to the Scottish police and judges. Perhaps this is a first indication that the concept of an international criminal court may be much more viable than some people have supposed. If so, it is a great credit to Scotland. This shows that the international community can get together to an astonishing extent when faced with crimes against humanity of the enormity of the Lockerbie tragedy.

The leading representative of the victims, Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter died in the explosion and who has shown the extraordinary grace and courage that have characterised the victims in Scotland and outside, said today that,

"a majestic process is in motion".

That is a great credit to the Scottish judiciary.

I have a couple of questions. Can the leader of Libya now be persuaded to admit his country's involvement? I very much share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Howell, that the fact that the gentleman who has been condemned was an official of the Libyan intelligence agency raises large questions about who authorised his intervention. That link must be explored.

Compensation is another crucial issue. Perhaps most important of all is whether the Libyan Government will now agree to renounce terrorist activities and return to the rule of international law, which, were it to happen, might lay the basis for the possible future lifting of sanctions.

The Prime Minister is reported to have supported a full and open inquiry. Will the Government agree to that? There are very difficult questions to be addressed. The evidence of Mr Giaka, the CIA double agent, collapsed in court under cross-examination. Nevertheless, clearly he played an important role in the whole Lockerbie story. There is the question of why some FBI families cancelled their bookings at the last minute on the flight from Heathrow to New York. There is the question of the role of Mr Edwin Bollier, the Swiss businessman, whose very delicate mechanisms were involved in the explosion of the bomb and who was alleged in court to have been a master of deception. Finally, there is the issue of whether others were involved who so far have not been identified by the procedure of the court.

All those matters lead me to the question about which I hope that the Minister will be able to enlighten us--that is, whether there can and will be an open inquiry. I ask that in the context of believing that it was absolutely right to pursue the criminal case first. It was right to deal first with the issue of the guilt or innocence of those identified as possible agents of the terrible actions. However, that now opens the door to the public or judicial inquiry, as the case may be, which the victims of this terrible tragedy have every right to demand.