The former prime minister has refused to be questioned in public by the Northern Ireland affairs committee in parliament over his dealings with Gaddafi and about negotiations aimed at compensating victims of the Lockerbie plane bombing as well as the murder of PC Yvonne Fletcher.
Blair has been accused of ignoring demands from IRA victims to press Gaddafi on the issue of compensation for people in Northern Ireland and Britain who were injured or whose loved ones were killed by Libyan-supplied semtex explosives and weaponry.
During the Troubles Gaddafi’s regime sent the Provisional IRA tonnes of arms and explosives to boost its arsenal. Some of the most notorious attacks in England involved Libyan-suppied semtex explosives, used to trigger the huge bombs that devastated Bishopsgate and Canary Wharf in London.
In their letter to Blair’s office released this week, the Northern Ireland affairs committee challenges him with a list of 11 questions about his government’s negotiations with the former Gaddafi regime in Tripoli.
They include: “In your evidence to the foreign affairs committee, you separated the issue of compensation for the family of WPC Fletcher and the Lockerbie victims, from the claims of the UK victims of IRA terrorism. Why?”
In relation to face to face meetings he held with Gaddafi, the parliamentarians ask Blair: “Was the issue of compensation for the UK victims of the IRA discussed at any of these meetings?”
The letter raises the concerns of victims groups who have condemned Blair’s alleged refusal to help them gain compensation over IRA attacks where Libyan weapons were used. “What is your response to the argument made by the IRA victims that you should have pushed for their inclusion in the settlement reached between the US and Libyan?”
The committee points out to Blair that a criminal compensation scheme in Northern Ireland for victims of terrorism only applies to people in the region and excludes anyone injured in bombings in England. Blair had incorrectly tried to argue to the foreign affairs committee, which he did give evidence to regarding Libya, that this scheme would cover compensation for any IRA victims.
In their letter, the MPs and lords on the committee describe Blair’s reasons for refusing to be questioned by them as “superficial” and “disappointing”.
They conclude that while the committee would prefer if Blair appear in person they would be grateful if he could answer all 11 questions.
The committee includes five Northern Ireland MPs including the SDLP member for South Belfast, Alasdair McDonnell, and Ian Paisley Junior, DUP MP for North Antrim. It is chaired by the Conservative Sir Laurence Robertson and also includes Labour MP Kate Hoey.
This article was written by Henry McDonald Ireland correspondent, for theguardian.com on Thursday 28th January 2016 15.17 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010