HC Deb 18 June 1997 vol 296 cc309-10
Q7. Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Prime Minister if he will discuss with President Clinton the consequences for policy in relation to approaching the UN to lift sanctions against Libya of the acquittal of Juval Aviv by an American court. [2580]

The Prime Minister

As my hon. Friend knows, Juval Aviv has been acquitted by an American court. We are also aware of the allegations that have been made by him, but the advice that I have received is that it does not alter the case that the existing evidence in respect of those who perpetrated the Lockerbie bombing suggests that it was carried out by Libyans.

I believe that the United Nations Security Council sanctions should remain until the Security Council resolutions are properly and fully complied with; they are not being complied with at the moment.

Mr. Dalyell

If that is the case, and in the light of last Wednesday's Adjournment debate when I told of the scepticism of Professor Robert Black, professor of Scots law at the university of Edinburgh, and the profound scepticism of Peter Anderson of Simpson Marwick—after all, that firm acted as the lawyers for Pan Am—do we have the Prime Minister's assurance that he is absolutely sure that the Crown Office has the evidence to prosecute successfully, which it has claimed to have? If there is a scintilla of doubt about the advice that he has received, would he consider appointing either a European judge or a judge of the Court of Appeal in England to examine what the Crown Office says that it has?

The Prime Minister

The short answer is that the advice that I have received is that the evidence is still clear on this point. Partly as a result of the trial of Mr. Aviv, and as a result of many other allegations and counter-allegations that are made, which are sifted carefully, the process is kept under continual review and re-evaluation, as it should be. At present, the evidence is still clear, in so far as there is evidence about who perpetrated the Lockerbie bomb, and it points to Libyan involvement. The United Nations Security Council resolutions are still in place because they have not been complied with. Until they are, in my view those sanctions should remain.

Sir Teddy Taylor

In view of the real agony sustained by the relatives of those who lost their lives in this dreadful bombing, would the Prime Minister be at least willing to make a positive and constructive approach to Libya to ensure that the trial takes place, especially as Libya has offered to hand over the two suspects to a third country? Might not an ideal compromise be a trial in Malta, where it is alleged that the disaster was initiated? Would not the Prime Minister be willing to try to get a trial somewhere and somehow to bring relief to the relatives?

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the plain fact is that there is the opportunity of having a trial if the suspects are handed over. I do not believe that it is fair to say that a trial, for example, in Scotland, would be unfair in any shape or form. I think that that would be a wrong reflection on the legal system there. Of course, we continually try every avenue that we can to make progress in this matter, but I do not think that I can hold out some hope to the hon. Gentleman that we will reverse the policy that the previous Government adopted, which, in this instance at least, I support.

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