HC Deb 18 October 1982 vol 29 cc42-3W
Mr. Arther Lewis

asked the Secretary of Slate for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement concerning a British subject, Mr. Robert Maxwell, who had been imprisoned for more than two years before trial in Tripoli, Libya; what action he took and when to bring this man to trial, or to be granted remand or bail pending his trial; and why no public announcement was made by his Department concerning this matter until a broadcast by the BBC.

Mr. Hurd:

Mr. Robert Maxwell went to work in Libya in 1977 on a civil engineering project. In December 1980, he was arrested in Beida and in February 1981 brought before a revolutionary court. The hearing, held in secret, was inconclusive. He was later held in a detention centre near Tripoli. Despite repeated representations since then, including several at a high level, the Libyan authorities have not so far formally charged Mr. Maxwell. The British embassy in Tripoli has had consular access to Mr. Maxwell since his arrest and has visited him regularly thereafter. Neither Mr. Maxwell's family nor the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have seen any advantage to Mr. Maxwell in making public statements about this cage while efforts were Being made to secure his release. The embassy understands that Mr. Maxwell was recently moved to a different prison. Our efforts to help Mr. Maxwell will continue. The embassy has asked the Libyan authorities for an explanation of the move and for assurances that Mr. Maxwell will be released as soon as possible or will be legally represented when the case comes to trial.