UK maintains ambiguity and evasiveness over frozen Libyan funds

The City of London is where £12 billion in frozen Libyan funds resides

The UK continues to maintain ambiguity and evasiveness over frozen Libyan funds while at the same time refusing to divert the funds to campaign groups who harbor grievances against the former Libyan regime. 

The government has steadfastly rejected calls to publish a report examining options to use part of the funds to compensate people affected by the conflict in Northern Ireland from early 1970s to 1998.

In that context, the report’s author, William Shawcross, has been summoned to appear before the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in the House of Commons.

A stalwart of the British establishment, Shawcross was appointed by the government to head the review of Prevent, the UK’s highly controversial counter-radicalization program.

In a written statement to the House of Commons on Tuesday (March 23), the Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly, said the "internal scoping report" overseen by Shawcross was commissioned to provide “advice” to ministers and draws on "private and confidential conversations".

The idea to use some of the frozen Libyan funds as compensation had initially been raised by the UK’s loyalist allies in Northern Ireland.

The loyalist demand for compensation is based on the allegation that the former Libyan regime led by the late Muammar Gaddafi had supplied the Irish Republican Army (IRA) with weapons, including Czech-made Semtex explosives.

Not surprisingly, loyalist parties have reacted angrily to the government’s decision, with the deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Nigel Dodds, accusing the government of “behaving disgracefully”. 

Libya is believed to have £12 billion in frozen funds in UK banks and while the British government has previously said it will return the money to the country to help it rebuild after nearly 10 years of conflict, so far no practical plan has been drawn up for the repatriation of funds.

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