Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

Oral evidence: HM Government support for UK victims of IRA attacks that used Gaddafi-supplied Semtex and Weapons, HC 406
28 October 2015

Ordered by the House of Commons to be published on 28 October 2015

Written evidence from witnesses:

       Charles Arbuthnot

       Susanne Dodd

       Pamela White

Watch the meeting

Members present: Mr Laurence Robertson (Chair); Mr David Anderson; Oliver Colvile; Mr Nigel Evans; Lady Hermon; Kate Hoey; Danny Kinahan; Jack Lopresti; Nigel Mills; Ian Paisley; Gavin Robinson.

Questions 330-396

Witnesses: Charles Arbuthnot, Susanne Dodd, Mina Jadeja, and Pamela White gave evidence.

Q330   Chair: You are very welcome.  Thank you very much for joining us.  As you know, we are carrying out an inquiry into Her Majesty’s Government’s support for UK victims of IRA attacks that used Gaddafisupplied Semtex and weapons, and we are extremely grateful to you for coming and offering to give evidence.  I thought we would offer each of you just a few minutes to tell us of your connection with the 1983 Harrods bombing.  You have submitted, very helpfully, written reports and accounts, so thank you very much for that, but we thought it would be useful if we just gave you each two or three minutes to go through your connection.  Shall we start with Ms White?  Thank you.

Pamela White: Thank you, Chairman.  Good morning, everybody.  First, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak today.  I think the voices here today have not been heard for many years, so thank you.  I will briefly tell you about my involvement. 

On 17 December 1983, at about 1.40 in the afternoon—it was the last Saturday before Christmas—Scotland Yard received a call that there was a possibility of a bomb outside Harrods and also inside.  As a result, on my radio, I overheard the call.  I was along the King’s Road at the time, so I responded.  I went to the section house, where I managed to get a lift in a van that was going to Harrods with a gentleman called John Gordon, who was a police officer who was very badly injured and has, unfortunately, subsequently died.  We got dropped off at Harrods.  We had a very short time when we were searching.  We cleared the scene.  It is a oneway system going in.  I know it is pedestrianised now, but it was a oneway system and we sealed off the area.  I cannot tell you how many police officers were there, but I think I was one of the first ones to arrive.  I also have a colleague in the room today, Martin Holgate, who was at the scene; he was there before me.  Basically, what happened was we were searching and I just remember the bomb going off.  I turned my back to it.  It lifted me.  I felt a fireball on my back and then I remember going through the air.  I hit the ground and then I remember just everybody around me being—sorry.

Lady Hermon: It is all right.  It is very good of you to come and give evidence, and it is very honest evidence.

Pamela White: I noticed casualties.  People were obviously dead.  I did my best to try to get civilians into a building opposite, because I heard on my radio that there was going to be a secondary device going off.  I had just spoken to Jane Arbuthnot—Charles is her brother—and I just turned and said something like, “I will just go down there”.  She said something and that was the last time I spoke to her.  My sergeant was killed, Noel Lane, and Steve Dodd, whose daughter is here today, was very badly injured and died the following week.  Terrible time.  That is my involvement at the scene.  We got no debriefing whatsoever.  To this day I have not really had a debriefing.  I know it was a different situation then, in 1983, but we basically all carried on, because that was the thing to do.  I returned to work and then I had subsequent problems, so basically that is what happened to me.

Susanne Dodd: I am Susanne Dodd.  My father was the inspector on duty that day.  He was injured on 17 December and died on Christmas Eve.  He was the officer in charge.  Basically, on the 17th, myself, my nineyearold sister, my 11yearold brother and my mother had broken up for the school holidays and were waiting for my father to come home to put the Christmas tree up that night.  He was due to leave work at 2 pm.  All we remember was mum telling us that there had been a bomb in Harrods and, “Your father is going to be late”.  Breaking news was coming all over the radio and on the news, saying that my father was instantly killed, which did not happen.  Finally, we were told he was seriously injured.  Over the next couple of weeks, my father’s colleagues were looking after us while my mother was at the hospital, and she came back on Christmas Eve and told us that my father had died.

Mina Jadeja: Good morning, everybody.  I would also like to thank everybody for giving me this opportunity.  It has been a long time coming since Harrods.  I have never spoken before.  On 17 December 1983, I witnessed an awful and tragic atrocity against humanity.  My sister and I had taken my two nephews, aged five and 10, to see Father Christmas at Harrods.  I remember the boys being very animated and excited about their trip into central London.  As we were leaving the store, we noticed that the main entrance was jampacked, being Christmas and all, so I suggested that we come out at the Hans Crescent exit.  Unfortunately, the Morris Minor car in which the bomb was planted was only 50 yards away from that entrance and, within seconds of us leaving Harrods, the bomb exploded and total confusion and chaos dawned on us.  I could not see through the smoke or hear anything, as there was complete smoke, and things were just flying everywhere.  There was complete silence, which was amazing really after what had just happened.  The silence is something that was deathly, if I can call it that.  Instinctively, I covered my youngest nephew, but then panicked as I felt that my sister and my older nephew were missing and I could not see them.  I knew I was hurt, because I was bleeding profoundly and I had glass and debris sticking out of me everywhere, and shrapnel; the glass was from the Harrods’ window.  Somehow, I got my directions and managed to get myself on the main road and was approached by two men, who assisted us.  I cannot remember much after that, because the next thing was that I woke up in hospital being wheeled into the operating theatre.  I have vague recollections of Margaret Thatcher being there and her phrase of, “Cant see her like this.  When she gets around, wish her well from me”.

Charles Arbuthnot: Good morning and thank you very much for the opportunity.  I am the younger brother of Jane Arbuthnot, the WPC killed at the Harrods bombing.  I am here to represent my family.  My mother, who is 87, is just recovering from flu, so unable to make it, my older sister was not able to make it due to work commitments and my older brother lives in South Africa.  In any case, I am here to say words in their stead. 

Just briefly to explain Jane’s circumstances, as I understand it, she was literally just going off duty for a lunch break when she met another colleague who was explaining about an incident at Harrods, so she joined them, I guess almost in a voluntary capacity.  She went to Hans Crescent and, basically, she helped evacuate the street, met up with Pam and, as Pam said, very shortly after that they were just feet away from each other and the bomb went off.  That is basically it.  Miraculously, Pam survived, thankfully, but Jane did not.

 

Q331   Kate Hoey: Can I say thank you very much, all of you, for coming?  You have all written and spoken very movingly of the repercussions that this has had for your lives from the time of the terrible bombing.  Clearly you all feel that Her Majesty’s Government have let you down.  Would it be fair to say that, in terms of in relation to how the American Government treated their victims?  Mina, you mentioned in your statement about knowing an American victim who was in the same ward as you and ended up getting £3.4 million because of the support of his Government.  Would you like to tell us what you would say now to Prime Ministers present and past?

Mina Jadeja: I would really ask them to get on board with the victims here, because I believe they have chosen to stay out of the equation.  Other countries have managed to help their victims.  They have assisted them.  They have given them specialist help as well, like Mark McDonald received from his Government.  It seems quite ironic and unfair that, being in the same incident, being in the next ward to him in the hospital, we did not get any of that treatment.  Nobody spoke to us after the incident.  Nobody approached us about what kind of help we needed and we just suffered in silence, to this day.  I did write to the Prime Minister in 2012, because I saw an article done by the Telegraph about how there is a pot set aside by the Libyan Government to compensate the victims, so I wrote to him then.  Coincidentally, it is the same year that he promised to give this matter priority, basically, but, unfortunately, he only forwarded me to the Foreign Office.  I attended two meetings with them, in 2013 and 2014, but the message was that this was our personal problem and we should pursue it by ourselves.  The disappointment and the blow came as no further assistance or even advice was given to us, whereas they flew in victims from Libya and I think they were cared for, so we felt that we are right under the noses of the Parliament buildings here in London and we are totally ignored.

 

Q332   Kate Hoey: You had to pay your own travel costs to that meeting as well.

Mina Jadeja: I did have to.  I am sorry: that is quite a petty point to make, but I am just trying to make the comparison.

 

Q333   Mr Nigel Evans: Thanks very much for coming today.  It is clearly incredibly moving, listening to your stories 32 years after the event.  I was in the Grand Hotel in Brighton when the bomb went off and five people died and, now and again, my mind goes back to that night.  It is not just the people who died—clearly a complete tragedy—but it is also the people who live even today with the scars of that bombing, whether it is physical or mental.  Are you able to give any sort of evidence about the impact, 32 years afterwards, that the bombing has had on your families and yourselves?

Pamela White: Obviously you witnessed it a few minutes ago.  Just talking about it does bring it back and it can catch you out when you are not expecting it, as it did this morning.  I am not ashamed of that, but that is just the way it is.  I was speaking to my colleague last night, and it does not go away, especially when we see all the terrorism in the news today.

Susanne Dodd: They say the police look after when the victim is killed.  My mother went through financial hardship afterwards, because she received a half widow’s police pension, and with the rules and regulations at that time, she could not remarry or she would lose her widow’s pension, nor could she have a livein partner, so my mother gave her life up for us three children growing up.  She worked 14 hours a day running her own business and died at 60 from terminal cancer, because she had been working so much to keep us in the lifestyle that we should have been in.

Mina Jadeja: I think this act of crime has had a very detrimental and negative impact on my life, whether it is emotional, physical, psychological or financial.  In fact, I feel like my life has been snatched away from me.  It has totally collapsed and hit rock bottom, as I live in excruciating pain most of the days because of the injuries sustained in this incident.  I face one crisis after another on a daily basis and I struggle to go on even with painkillers.  Anger, disappointment, frustration, helplessness, and low moods are just a few of the negative emotions that I feel.  From being ambitious and careerminded, in my mid20s, holding down two jobs with set future goals, I am unable to work, even though I retrained myself twice to be employable.  I have spent many years, sleepless and in pain, in my four walls and it felt like it has been a jail, while the perpetrators walk freely and, I feel, perhaps without remorse. 

Charles Arbuthnot: I can only say 32 years on and we still have a gash and a hole in our family.  There is someone who is so, so sorely missed, clearly, and we just keep thinking about what life would have been had she lived, what she would be doing—having a family life, having children.  Every now and again, we all just think about these things and it is very heartrending.  I know for my mother, for one, there is not a day that goes by when she does not think about her daughter.  Time does, in some way, heal, but still it is 32 years on and it is a shameful loss for us.

Mr Nigel Evans: I thank you for coming as well, because your voice has been silent for too long and it is important that it is now heard, so thank you.

Pamela White: Can I just say that, basically, the police at the time did not know how to deal with these situations?  Hence we were not debriefed at all and so, by February, I was very ill.  I spent five months in the police nursing home.  I was then diagnosed with PTSD and had already had hearing damage with tinnitus, which I think is quite common with these things, and then I developed ulcerative colitis.  Basically, I have had periods of good health, so I have worked through it.  Obviously, people who go through this can suffer psychologically as well as physically.  Part of my problem at the scene and afterwards was that I had no physical injuries.  As a result, I went through a very bad time where I got ostracised by my relief, with the people I was speaking with, because they thought I was putting on my symptoms when I was not.  As a result, I had to move police stations, which again was quite traumatic, and my life has been up and down since.

 

Q334   Mr Anderson: Can I add my voice to this and say how necessary it is for you to be here, but also we respect how painful it must be for you?  Pamela, I was going to ask you something specifically, before you added the last bit.  You said in your original statement about subsequent problems, and I accept it was a different world and I do a lot of work with veterans who have serious issues with PTSD; to some extent, as Charles said, time does heal a little bit, but nobody can say how anybody can deal with this.  I am particularly interested in how you were treated by the police, as your employer, as part of the public sector, in terms of going forward.  We clearly have this issue about what we are trying to get to the bottom of, but you said from the day that happened, you were ostracised.  Did you have to leave work?  Were you given any support?

Pamela White: As I say, I do not think they knew how to deal with it.  The incident was on a Saturday afternoon; I turned up at work on the Monday.  That day, I started work at 11.  As I was leaving the station, I got a telephone call from a detective constable at Scotland Yard saying that I had been given an attachment to the bomb squad on Monday, so I left the station that morning quite elated really, because it was my goal to try to progress out of uniform, and working at Scotland Yard was a bit of a dream.  I left the station that morning.  I had two weeks off sick and the policy then was they very kindly sent loads of alcohol round, so you could try to drink and forget your troubles.  As there was such a high media profile, there was a lot of media attention, and terrible funerals—Jane’s funeral, Stephen’s funeral and Police Sergeant Noel Lane, who has not been mentioned today, but his funeral as well.  I think the whole force was affected, but for me, personally, I returned to work and I tried to put on a brave face, but I could not.  By February, I went to see my chief superintendent, and it was a kind of macho environment, I can only describe it as, then, but one could not say how you were feeling, because I thought I would lose my job.  I thought if I mentioned at the time that I had any problems with stress, then I would have lost my job, so I did not.  Anyway, I went to see the chief superintendent and I was standing in front of him and he said, “Sit down”, and I held out my hand—it was shaking like this and sweat was just dropping off.  That is how bad I was.  I lost a lot of weight, so I was very ill.  Anyway, they kept me in the police nursing home and, subsequently, I had to go and see a psychiatrist, which I did not want to do.  I did admit that I had a fear of going near dead bodies and things and seeing people in a very bad situation.  I thought that might affect my police career, so she tried to arrange for me to go to a mortuary to see a postmortem to try to get over it, which I did not want to do. 

I can look back now, but it was a very bad time.  I remember there was a police constable in there who had flu and he was asking me, over lunch, what my problem was.  I said, “I do not want to discuss it”, and he said, “Are you a stress case?” and I said, “No”, and then somehow he ended up with a plate of spaghetti on his head.  I think that kept me in for quite a long time.  When I returned to work in August, I was put on restricted duties, confined to the depths of Chelsea police station in the property store.  For somebody who was on a stepping stone to become crime squad and CID and also taking my sergeant’s exam, it was very frustrating.  As I said, I was moved to another police station and really my career, I think, ended that day. 

My brother served with Greater Manchester Police for 28 years as a CID officer and I had followed in his footsteps, so that is what I wanted to do.  Unfortunately, in July 1986, I was what they call “CAS”, which means I was given a medical discharge from the police with 51% disability.  You just go and see the chief medical officer, knock on the door and then that is it; you are out the door.  Again, I was very upset about that.  The thing is that you leave your whole police contact.  I had spent nearly six years there.  I was in a relationship with a police officer and straight away that is all gone.

 

Q335   Mr Anderson: I know this sounds a bit mercenary—it is not meant to—but were you given any pension or anything like that?

Pamela White: Yes, I got a small ill health and small injury, but because I did not have the service—

 

Q336   Mr Anderson: It was related to your service, yes?

Pamela White: Yes.  In terms of support, over the years the welfare system at the Met has helped.  I have been able to get access, when I have had injuries, to go to the nursing home.  However, funding is cutting that at the moment.

 

Q337   Lady Hermon: I have to say that your evidence has been profoundly moving.  It is of huge benefit to us, as a Committee, that we hear from the victims of IRA Libyansponsored violence and how your lives have been affected for such a long time.  May I ask some questions—and it is alright to be upset, Pamela.  I would be amazed if you came before this Committee and there was no emotion.  It is a very powerful witness session.

Pamela White: I just think it would hinder getting the message across.

 

Q338   Lady Hermon: It is regrettable—very regrettable—that we have not heard your voices before now.  May I just ask, Mina, you wrote to the Prime Minister; I think it was as recently as 2012.  Did you even have an acknowledgement of your letter to the Prime Minister, David Cameron?

Mina Jadeja: I think I just got a letter referring me to the Foreign Office.

 

Q339   Lady Hermon: May I just ask all of you: you are British citizens living in England and you were all affected by the Harrods bombing.  What had you expected and what happened in terms of a support network from your own Government?  What support have you had from your own Government?

Charles Arbuthnot: Nothing to date.  To be honest, it was only about 18 months ago that we learnt that there were other support networks in place.  It was only 18 months ago that, personally, we learnt via Robert Mendick, who is the chief reporter on the Sunday Telegraph.  He tracked us down.   He wanted a statement from my mother and he filled us in on what had happened in terms of Americans receiving compensation.  He wanted our thoughts on that, and that was the very first time that we had heard about any of this.  Up until that time, to be honest, we had not even contemplated compensation or anything.  We certainly had not received any contact from the Government or Government Departments over the years.

 

Q340   Lady Hermon: No contact.

Charles Arbuthnot: No.

 

Q341   Lady Hermon: From the Home Office, from the Foreign Office?

Charles Arbuthnot: No.  I cannot be categorical.  Obviously, immediately after the day, yes, there was a lot of immediate support, predominantly, though, from the Metropolitan Police.  They were absolutely fantastic, but I am certain nothing from the Government itself since that day.

Susanne Dodd: I wrote to the Prime Minister twice.  I received a letter saying to go to the Ministry of Justice and that we may be entitled to compensation and then they put, paragraph 84, that two years after the event you cannot claim for compensation, so I do not know why Cameron sent us to the Ministry of Justice.  I wrote to Sir Kim Darroch and he replied on behalf of the Prime Minister and himself, stating, “There is nothing we can do for you.  It is a personal issue.”  I have written to the Foreign Office quite recently and got pretty much the same email back from them.  I also wrote to the Queen, because I have met her through Hendon.  She wrote something quite nice and said she would forward it to Philip Hammond, but I have had no response from him.

 

Q342   Lady Hermon: So you had more and a kinder response from Her Majesty the Queen than you have had from your own Government?

Susanne Dodd: Yes.

 

Q343   Lady Hermon: That is a very critical statement, I think, to put it mildly.  Pamela, what sort of support have you had?

Pamela White: The big thing I have put here is that I have had to be a selfstarter about this.  Being isolated is one thing.  My MP is George Osborne and I wrote to him—I do not know—probably two or three years go.  He responded very quickly, said he would assist me and he forwarded the letter to William Hague.  I shortly got a letter back from William Hague that was basically, “Sorry it has happened to you, but it is a private matter”.  Then I just became despondent and gave up, because how can an individual like myself possibly take on the Libyan authorities?  I have not got the legal training and I have not got the funds, so I just gave up on it.  However, I did pop into his office on Monday and met his agent, so I have sent another email, because I have known about this since—

 

Q344   Lady Hermon: Is this George Osborne?

Pamela White: Yes.

 

Q345   Lady Hermon: So you have been to your MP’s office.

Pamela White: Yes.  I went back again on Monday and tried to get his details again and I have forwarded an email, but obviously we all know the pressures Mr Osborne has on at the moment.

 

Q346   Lady Hermon: Let us hope that after this evidence session his office will be in contact with you very promptly.

Pamela White: Yes, but basically no support and, to me, it is just like they wanted that we are either going to go away or most of us will be finished off with our injuries or will pass away.

 

Q347   Lady Hermon: No, you are not going to go away.  The victims are going to remain dignified and determined to receive help and compensation, but other help from their own Government.

Pamela White: Thank you.

 

Q348   Lady Hermon: Mina, can I just ask you, if you do not mind me asking, what about your support from your local MP?  Who would that be?  We have heard George Osborne is one of the MPs.

Mina Jadeja: Seema Malhotra is my MP, and ever since she was elected, in 2012, I have been communicating with her as well and making her aware of the problems that I am facing.  Otherwise, my family and I have received no help whatsoever and were unaware of organisations that are put in place to help us.  I am only just finding this out this year and, again, I often hear that, yes, the pot dries up very quickly because of the amount of people they have on their lists.  We are still in the process of being assessed, but no help to date, and if I think about Mark McDonald and the specialised help his country has given, I do strongly feel it is unjust and prejudicial that we are so ignored here.

 

Q349   Kate Hoey: I am sure you would like to know that your Member of Parliament is listening here today. 

Lady Hermon: She is behind you in the public gallery, which is very nice.

Mina Jadeja: Thank you.  I appreciate the support.

 

Q350   Lady Hermon: Charles and Susanne, how supportive have your MPs been?

Charles Arbuthnot: It is very recently, since the inquiry opened, that we have involved our respective MPs, but they have been quite supportive of us and taken a lot of interest.  That is James Cartlidge for me and Ben Gummer for my mother and my sister.  James has written to Tobias Ellwood at the FCO, and Ben set up a meeting with Tobias Ellwood with James to attend, but I have not heard the outcome from that meeting as yet.

 

Q351   Lady Hermon: That is encouraging though.

Charles Arbuthnot: It is encouraging, absolutely.  They have been supportive, but that is just very recently.

Susanne Dodd: Zac Goldsmith is my MP.  I have written to him several times and spoken to his office.  We are trying to make dates to meet each other, but we keep missing each other.  In previous emails and conversations I have had, his secretary was asking me, “How can I help you?” and I just feel that he is a Member of Parliament, so he should know how to help me and the people to contact regarding this, but I have had a difficult time meeting up with him, because obviously he is quite busy at the moment.

 

Q352   Kate Hoey: Is it fair to say that you have all really only in the last few years started to involve yourselves with your MPs?  Also, have you had help from the Northern Ireland victims’ groups recently, too?

Susanne Dodd: We, as the Dodd family, only found out about this on the 30th anniversary.  Robert Mendick, the chief reporter of the Telegraph, phoned my brother and said, “The American lady whose husband died in the Harrods bombing received $10 million”.  Obviously this is totally disgraceful by the UK Government not helping us on this.  Then we started writing to the MPs.

 

Q353   Mr Nigel Evans: Who did you say received $10 million?

Susanne Dodd: A lady’s husband was killed.  I cannot remember his name.

 

Q354   Mr Nigel Evans: Where was he killed?

Susanne Dodd: At Harrods.

 

Q355   Mr Nigel Evans: An American citizen died and the family received $10 million?

Susanne Dodd: Yes.

Chair: It is something we are seeking to look into.

 

Q356   Gavin Robinson: Thank you all for being here this morning and for sharing your personal reflections and experiences, which has been difficult for you individually.  In Northern Ireland, victims of terrorism have been able to avail themselves of support, whether it is through the Northern Ireland Memorial Fund or the Victims and Survivors Service.  Have you ever had support similarly from those organisations, or even contact about how best support mechanisms here in England could operate for you? 

Mina Jadeja: That has been very much lacking and, having talked to VSS recently, I have just realised that that is 30 years that we did not get help when we should have been getting help.  They seem to be well established in the kind of help they are giving, and I would really like to see that more on the mainland now.  We seem to have nothing on the mainland.  We do not know where to go or who to approach, and Northern Ireland is a long way to be going to reach out for help.

Pamela White: I have been going over to Northern Ireland since 1999.  I went over with an organisation and met, for the first time, Michael Gallagher from Omagh, and then I have had about 50 trips to Northern Ireland meeting various groups on both sides.  I got involved with a place called Glencree and I was on their survivors programme called LIVE—Let’s Involve the Victims’ Experience.  That was my first opportunity to meet people who had gone through that, and I think it was about 18 years afterwards—the first time I had met anybody who had been through a bombing.  It is quite an isolation that you live in where you do not know where the support is.  If you go to your GP and things, they do not know how to deal with these things.  I got very involved through that and, through that, I became very active.  I got involved with what they call an excombatants programme, where I was meeting people from the IRA, the INLA, the loyalist side and, as a result, I travelled to South Africa and tried to learn from truth and peace and reconciliation.  This was part of my process about how to move on from my incident.  I publicly forgave the IRA in 2001, and met various Sinn Fein people.  This is something I did for me, personally, so it has helped me move on.  I have heard from both sides, so I have a reasonable understanding and, meeting some of the victims, one thing that comes across to me very clearly is that there are victims on both sides.  No matter what they are wearing, whether they are wearing a uniform or not, it is not relevant.  I also got involved with the Warrington centre, the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace, where I was quite active and then I went to work for them.  They were running a victims’ programme as well. 

So I have been quite active and I did find out about this compensation many years ago.  Perhaps that might be one of the other questions, but I have known for quite a long time about this court case.  In fact, I mentioned it to some of the officers on the 30th anniversary.  My problem is trying to get in touch with officers.  I met Sir Bernard HoganHowe.  I tried to contact him on Friday, but trying to get through to the Met is very difficult when you go through the switchboard, trying to explain your situation, but I really feel that perhaps the Met could give us some support on this.  I did phone the Federation on Friday and am still awaiting a phone call.

 

Q357   Gavin Robinson: I want to ask about the Met particularly, and I recognise your experience does not involve the Metropolitan Police and that you did not work for them.  Mr Arbuthnot, would you have a reflection?

Charles Arbuthnot: As a family, we really did not know that these support networks even existed, to be honest.  It is only very recently that so much has now come to light in that regard.

 

Q358   Gavin Robinson: Are you now availing of services you previously were unaware of, or are you still gathering information?

Charles Arbuthnot: We are not directly getting involved with any support networks at the moment.

 

Q359   Gavin Robinson: Particularly for the Metropolitan Police and both Mr Arbuthnot and Ms Dodd, as relatives of a serving officer who lost their life, and then, Ms White, through your personal experience as an officer, I think we all recognise that the way in which people are treated has changed substantially from 30 years ago, but were there deathinservice payments and support at that time, or were there injuryonduty payments at that time?  I sincerely hope the pension situation has changed for anyone who can get it now. 

Susanne Dodd: Yes.  It only just changed a couple of years ago.

 

Q360   Gavin Robinson: I am interested to hear just how the Metropolitan Police themselves supported either the families of an officer who lost their life or a serving officer.

Pamela White: Do you mean financially or all ways?

 

Q361   Gavin Robinson: Both financially and almost a wraparound pastoral care package for you as part of that service family.  Was there any support?

Charles Arbuthnot: Certainly for us, immediately after and for some weeks after we had amazing support from the Metropolitan Police at the time.  It was just like a family and I cannot fault that, but then, obviously, over time that receded, quite rightly, and we got on with our lives and so on.  In terms of any financial payments or anything, to be honest, I do not know.  My mother would know.  I am sorry; that is lost in the mists of time for me.

Susanne Dodd: We had great support, as Charles said, for the first couple of weeks.  My mother got a half widow pension from the police and, as I said, she could not remarry or have a livein partner or she would completely lose it.  My grandfather, my brother, my mother and my father were all in the police force.  They have given their lives to the police and, yes, they have given us some support over the years, but not majorly financially.

 

Q362   Lady Hermon: Forgive me for asking, and I do not mean to pry, but I just think it would help us to understand: is there a memorial service on particular anniversaries?  Is there a memorial service for the Harrods bombing?

Susanne Dodd: Yes, every year.

 

Q363   Lady Hermon: Is there a memorial tablet with the names?

Susanne Dodd: Yes, and every 10th anniversary, the Commissioner comes and every year generally we get a borough commander from Kensington; she comes as well.

Pamela White: That was organised by Michael Winner, who thought it was disgraceful that police officers could be killed and then forgotten.

 

Q364   Lady Hermon: Is that a recent thing?

Pamela White: No.  I do not know if Harrods was one of the first or it was Yvonne Fletcher, possibly, who was in April, following Harrods, but it was Michael Winner.  I met him and thanked him for that, because he thought it was disgraceful that a police officer could be murdered on duty, or three police officers could be murdered on duty—

 

Q365   Gavin Robinson: He was personally involved in the National Police Memorial at Horse Guards as well.

Pamela White: Yes, he was.

Mina Jadeja: That is something my family and I were not aware of until this year, so I am hoping that I can attend this year as well.

 

Q366   Lady Hermon: Is there ever a representative from the Government, from the Department of Justice or the Home Office?

Pamela White: Not that I know of.  It is quite a lowkey thing, isn’t it?  The main one was the 10year anniversary, but of course it is 30odd years on now, so a lot of the original people have, sadly, passed away.

Lady Hermon: Yes, but their families are here; that is who are here to testify and the families carry those scars for years and years after the event.  A memorial service I do think is very helpful and very healing as well, so I am glad to hear that you do have that.

 

Ian Paisley: Pamela, Mina, Susanne, and Charles, thank you.  It may not seem like it from your end, but I think you have lifted a carpet and under it you have exposed a huge chasm of inadequacy and failure from Government and from Parliament, and I think we all stand totally exposed by your words.  Your voices have been meek and your manners have been mild, but your message has been mighty and I think you should accept that.  I hope this Committee can provide you with some sort of platform and that some of the inadequacy can be addressed.  Thank you.

 

Q367   Danny Kinahan: I am sorry you have even had to come here today, and you have been incredibly brave.  This may seem a very obvious question, but it is the elephant in the room.  What would you like to see happening from now onwards, whether it is in justice terms or in help?  What do you want to see us trying to get out of this?  I know what we all feel, but I think it is very important, and thank you so much for coming today and being so brave.

Susanne Dodd: I want an apology from the UK Government on this issue and they need to help everyone on the mainland and in Northern Ireland, other groups, like the Docklands and the Brighton bombing—everyone needs to be equal.  Rather than paying off what they should have done with Lockerbie and Yvonne Fletcher, why should they choose who they want to pay?  I totally agree that they should have had payment, but it needs to go across the board for everyone now—fair.

Charles Arbuthnot: I have read a lot of the evidence that has been put forward to the inquiry and I am just staggered.  My interpretation is that the Government—many Governments—have appeared to have brushed it under the carpet, and really have seen it as a bit of an annoyance on the side and are not really willing to do anything to address it.  My call, personally, would be that they just need essentially to pull their finger out and get on with it, and have a bit more willpower to make things happen.  That would be my central message.

Pamela White: I keep thinking, “Do we have to wait another 30 years?”  We have already had one of our police officers die of his injuries; how many more?  Also, I think there are some questions to be asked about the previous Government, and their actions or lack of actions with these trade deals and things, with the leaked memos and stuff.  We need to have some answers for that.  It is not just about compensation.  It is about seeing that this does not happen again to victims like ourselves and also that we get some answers, please, and support.

 

Q368   Lady Hermon: So you would like to see Tony Blair before us as a witness?

Pamela White: Yes.

Lady Hermon: I thought so.

Mina Jadeja: I am hoping they will not abandon us any further.  I am hoping they will look into the frozen assets, and I am hoping that they are going to work with all the victims, whether they are in Northern Ireland or the mainland, because the mainland seems to suffer more isolation here.  Even the NHS has let me down, because in my borough people do not really understand a terror victim and what they go through.  There is just no understanding.

 

Q369   Oliver Colvile: First, thank you very much for coming to see us.  As you know, I was also in Harrods at the time, and I have to say that the first I heard about it was when there was a bomb.  I knew exactly what the sound was and, frankly, we were then told to move away from the windows.  Thank you, Pamela, for your part in trying to make sure that I was safe and everything.  I am incredibly grateful to you for that.  This, I have to say, is a very therapeutic event for me, because it is just bringing back some of the thoughts that I might have had at the time.  Indeed, there was an inspector, who I think was at Chelsea, called Ron Brook who was very helpful to me.  His wife was one of my local Conservative officers, because I was a Tory party agent at the time, and it was a very interesting experience. 

I suspect a lot of the discussion we have had, if I might say so, has been very much in hindsight as to what has happened.  It may be wrong for me to say this, but at the time there was much more of an attitude of the issues that were going on with the Troubles and the IRA, as far as Northern Ireland was concerned and also here on the mainland—it was very much, “Well, that is one of those things that is happening”, and there was not the same kind of thought that I hope we would have now to try to deal with some of these issues.  I think we are much better, as a country, at trying to make sure there is support for people when they have had these kinds of issues and problems. 

There are two questions I really want to ask you.  First, one of the things that we have to do, as politicians, is have an understanding of what we would have done differently and it would be helpful if you could set that out.  Secondly, you have discussed when talking to Danny what you want to see happen now.  The third thing, which I think we should do, Mr Chairman, is most certainly talk to one or two other people who have been similarly affected in other incidents as well.  Like Nigel, I was in Brighton at the time.  In fact, I had left the Grand Hotel about 10 minutes beforehand, and I was probably one of the very last people to see Tony Berry, who was the Member of Parliament for Enfield Southgate, walk up those stairs with his dogs chasing behind him, and I will not forget that in a hurry, I can tell you that.  Fourthly, can I also ask you, if you have some parliamentary questions that you think we should be putting down in order to try to hold the Government to account on this matter, will you kindly think about doing that and letting us have that?  I am very willing to put some down as far as I, needless to say, have an issue.  What I would like to understand from you is what you think the Government should have done and what it now needs to end up doing in order to try to set the record straight.  Who would like to start that one off?

Mina Jadeja: I think I would like to answer, please.  I recall a statement being made in this very room that there was stability in the Libyan Government between 2003 and 2008; I believe those were the years given.  My question then would be: why was something not done for the victims then?  It is all very well also asking us what kind of help we need, but the Government need to think about this themselves as well.  There are organisations that can help you answer it a lot better, because we have not been in touch with these organisations to this date.

 

Q370   Oliver Colvile: I understand that, Mina, but, as politicians, we are better informed by witnesses and people who have been through that experience, so you may want to think about it and then come back to us and say, “We think you should be doing the following things”.  That would incredibly helpful.

Pamela White: In my experience, if you are an individual it is very hard to get your voice across, whereas we have a group now—it is not that I am not interested in civilians, but it is about the police.  As I say, Martin Holgate is here today, who was quite badly injured.  It is trying to find a mechanism that works whereby we can contact people.

 

Q371   Oliver Colvile: I think, if I might say so, you have done exactly the right thing by going to talk to the local Members of Parliament who are your local MPs, and I would encourage anybody else you know who has been involved in this and other experiences to go and talk to us.  As we, collectively, as Members of Parliament, end up by having people come to see us and there is a general discussion, we will be much more motivated to get interested and to take up those cases as well.

Pamela White: May I say, though, for many victims it is quite a daunting experience, because you people are all involved in these things?  I can only speak for myself, but it is quite a daunting thing to approach your MP.  I have never approached an MP before, so even that kind of thing, going along there on your own or having the capacity to know how to do it—I know it sounds quite simple contact, but even that small hurdle could be quite a big thing for some people.

 

Q372   Oliver Colvile: I quite understand that and I understand that people get very daunted about the idea of going to see their MP.  Frankly, I have so many people come and see me on a regular basis that one of the things I think is important is that we, as MPs, have to be very approachable and have some sympathy for the issues.  I think there is a broader issue to look at other victims of other incidents, whether it be the Docklands or whether it be Brighton, and you have very kindly done that.  I think that is important.  That is how you can get your voices heard much more clearly.

Mina Jadeja: I have been networking with other victims this year.  Specifically, I would like to mention a gentleman who has been sleeping in Manchester Airport.  I have been talking to him.  You can imagine for someone like that, who is homeless, who has no job, and who has no selfworth, as Pamela has explained, it is daunting, but I have been advising each and every one of the people I have been talking to this year to contact their MP.

 

Oliver Colvile: When I am walking around Plymouth, which is my constituency, and there are people selling the Big Issue, I do try to go and have a conversation with them and try to encourage them to come and see me, come into my office so that we can try to get them back into some kind of home as well.  Therefore, if you can think about doing some of those things, it would be incredibly helpful and if you want to write to me, please do.  My email address, if you want to take it down, is oliver.colvile.mp@parliament.uk.  “Colvile” is spelt COLVILE—vile by name if not by nature, as my housemaster used to say. 

Mr Nigel Evans: It might be useful, if Mina has these contacts, that a note goes round to any of them that they are able to give submission.

Chair: The Clerk will be in touch with those.

 

Q373   Mr Hepburn: As my colleagues have said, nobody can begin to understand the trauma that you have been going through over the years and are still going through, but just a couple of questions.  First, when you said that an American got £10 million in compensation, who did they get the compensation from?

Susanne Dodd: The US Government.  With the court case that happened out in the US, they obviously gave the compensation from Libya.  Libya gave them £1.9 billion to share between the victims.

Pamela White: This is what we have read in reports and through evidence.

 

Q374   Mr Hepburn: To reiterate earlier points made, Select Committees can be very influential in their way, and I appreciate what you said earlier—that you go to MPs to advise you—but if you would like to see clear conclusions and recommendations coming from this report, what would they be?

Susanne Dodd: I feel that Tony Blair let us down dramatically when the US was being dealt with and they received their compensation.  I think he needs to be accountable for that, and also David Cameron said in 2014 that this was his priority, and I would like to meet Mr Cameron and see what he has done as a priority on this.

Pamela White: I concur with that.  I think it might have been 2012.  It might have been a little bit earlier; I am not sure.  I think really it is pretty outrageous that victims—or survivors, as I like to be known—can be treated this way, especially given the fact that police officers went to that scene and were doing their utmost to protect the law and the public.  We did not think about our lives and, tragically, three police officers died doing their job and a number of police officers were injured—quite high numbers—and having now been speaking more recently, their lives have not been the same.

 

Q375   Mr Hepburn:  When you talk about bringing Tony Blair to account, what do you mean?

Susanne Dodd: There have been emails saying that he interfered in the court case in the US, taking the British out of the court case.  There have been emails regarding this, so I would like to see Tony Blair here to explain what these emails meant and just explain his part in this.

Pamela White: This is the email from Vincent Fean, now Sir Vincent Fean.  I could read it, but you are all aware of it and what has gone on, and, from my simple understanding, it looks like our—

Kate Hoey: Yes, we took some very strong evidence on it.

Pamela White: Yes, so there is no need to go into that; it is on record.  It is appalling that, for whatever reason, if it was trade or whatever, we perhaps lost our opportunity.

Charles Arbuthnot: I fully support that as well.  I think these things need to be clarified and understood as to what exactly has happened and the impact it had at the time.  I think also there is another matter that keeps cropping up, and that is whether there is some distinction between giving compensation to civilians and police officers.  I do not know whether that is something that the Committee is addressing or looking into.

 

Q376   Lady Hermon: Would you like to elaborate?  You feel there is a distinction.

Charles Arbuthnot: Yes, from what we have been hearing.  We hear that there are legalities involved that mean that police officers and their families would not receive compensation, whereas civilians would.

 

Q377   Lady Hermon: Is that because the police officers were on duty?  

Charles Arbuthnot: Yes.

Pamela White: I do not know if you are aware that I approached Jason McCue’s law firm shortly after he took up the case.

Lady Hermon: This is McCue and Partners, is it?

Pamela White: Yes.

 

Q378   Chair: I was going to ask you about that.  You have led me on to it.  You say you were told that you would not be eligible.  Who told you that?

Pamela White: Jason McCue.  I had been involved with the Peace Centre at Warrington from probably 2003 or 2004.  I was a regular speaker and a regular partaker of their programmes.  They trained me to be a peer support worker, so I could then work with people from, say, 7/7.  While I was at the programmes, apparently the foundation knew about this court case and at no time was I told that this court case was going on.  By the time I found out, which might have been 2010, I met Jason McCue a few times and I was told, first, that it was too late, but the main thing was that this American action that was going through was not recognising a police officer on duty.  I asked him why and, from my recollection, it was because that was the way it was.  If I had been a police officer off duty, I could have gone into this class action of 40 or 50 people.  I said, “Can you explain then: does that mean that for the three police officers who lost their lives, their families are not eligible as well?” and he said, “Yes”.  I just said, “That is wrong, totally wrong”, and this is my main point. 

Two days after Harrods, on 19 December, Leon Brittan, speaking to the House said, “The IRA made a statement last night in Dublin in which it admitted responsibility…  It was also claimed that the attack was unauthorised and would not be repeated, and regretted the civilian casualties.”  Now, to this day, the IRA have apologised for the atrocities of the casualties; however, they have never apologised for any police or military, as far as I am aware.  He said, “Moreover, the bomb was timed to go off just at the moment when those investigating the situation were likely to be approaching it”.  That was myself and people like Jane and Stephen.  He said, “I totally reject the implied distinction between civilian and police casualties.  What has happened is that the IRA has found that the action taken by its members has caused universal revulsion and condemnation.  It is a piece of nauseating hypocrisy for it now to try to disown it and to claim that some kind of brutal murders are legitimate and some are illegitimate.”  What came across very strongly was that I, as a police officer on duty that day, was not eligible to be part of that claim, so I was blocked.  I felt very excluded and this, to me, was as bad as being blown up by a bomb, quite honestly.  It was just like, “You are not part of this group”.

 

Q379   Chair: That case did not go anywhere anyway, so if there were to be a separate case set up by the UK Government, that point could be revisited, could it not?

Pamela White: Hopefully, but it did cause me many years of anguish and I tried to speak to people about it, and I was getting frustrated.  This is totally, totally wrong, because the police officers that day were the sole target.  The inquest said that.  The commander of the AntiTerrorist Branch said that the sole purpose of the Harrods bomb was to lure police officers to their death, and that is what happened.

 

Q380   Kate Hoey: Mina, in your very strong statement you mentioned the Stormont House Agreement and the Northern Ireland Assembly Bill that might be going through, and we will be discussing issues similarly in this House, which proposes pensions for Northern Ireland victims of terrorism, including perpetrators, but excluding the victims in the rest of the United Kingdom.  You say that that is like a double insult.  I agree with you, but I just want to hear your views.

Mina Jadeja: It literally felt like being hurt all over again, because how they can differentiate and how they can be prejudicial in that sense was beyond me.  I could not understand that they even contemplated that idea, because how can you put the perpetrators in the same group as the victims?  It is not the done thing, surely.

 

Q381   Kate Hoey:  Yes, so would you have liked to see the definition of what a victim is changed to reflect that the perpetrator who goes and tries to set off the bomb and is killed is not treated in the same way as the person who is killed?

Mina Jadeja: Yes, because in the documentary that the BBC did on that point there was a perpetrator gentleman interviewed and he said, “I was a victim of my circumstances”.  I would question that, because those were circumstances they brought about.  We were the victims of circumstances.  We were there—I do not like to say “wrong place at the wrong time”, because I have been corrected since for having said that—and we had no hand in it.  These people were very actively doing what they were doing.  They were conscious of what they were doing.  They were adults, they took those actions, so I cannot abide by them saying, “We were victims of the circumstance”.

Pamela White: I think also the people who plant these bombs have a choice.  They have a choice whether they are going to use force, so please make it clear that the victims do not have a choice.

Chair: Absolutely, yes.

 

Q382   Lady Hermon: Thank you very much indeed.  It has been really very powerful, very moving evidence this morning.  We have had quite a bit of evidence in previous sessions about the Foreign Office having set up this victims’ reconciliation unit.  Have you all had experience of it?  Have you all had help from this unit?

Pamela White: I do not know about it.

Lady Hermon: Lots of heads shaking.

Mina Jadeja: This was the group that I attended two meetings with, which I mentioned earlier.  It was headed by Rachel Martinek, and this is where the Docklands group, myself, and McCue and group were there; some of the victims were being called over from Libya as well.  This is where they made it very plain to us that not only are they not going to be doing anything for us but this is our personal problem, and they had no advice.  I had asked to network with other victims then, because I was not aware of any, and even that help did not come through.

 

Q383   Lady Hermon: Charles, have you had any support from this unit?

Charles Arbuthnot: No, none whatsoever.  I only understood that the unit existed—I think this is the Libyan reconciliation unit—probably about a year ago.  I understood they had some sort of list you could be put on for updating you by email with information, so I emailed them asking to be put on that list but, to be honest, since then—and that was over a year ago—I have not received a single update or email or any information.

Pamela White: I was not even aware of it.  More than other people here, I have been involved with groups, but I did not even know it existed.  I would like to know more about it.  The only contact I had was that letter from William Hague about three years ago saying basically that the Foreign Office could not support me and it was a private matter.  That is the only contact I have had.

Charles Arbuthnot: I have had exactly the same sort of letter more recently from Tobias Ellwood, saying, “It is a private matter and you have to pursue it by yourself”.

 

Q384   Lady Hermon: That is the Foreign Office Minister who gave evidence to the Committee a few weeks ago.  I know that some of you were present during that evidence.  Would you like to reflect on how you felt about the evidence that you heard on that occasion?

Susanne Dodd: I do not think he was very prepared for the Committee.  He should have read our evidence before he came here, but I think it is disgraceful that the UK Government cannot help us in this matter.

 

Q385   Lady Hermon: It is wholly unreasonable for the Government to expect individual victims and survivors of IRA Libyansponsored violence to be able to fund a case themselves and to go to Libya and do all of that negotiating.  That is wholly unreasonable.

Pamela White: We are just a very small representation.  There are a lot of people out there who have had no voice and no contact whatsoever.  We are fortunate that at least we have a bit of support now.

 

Q386   Lady Hermon: Yes.  That is why this is such powerful testimony today from each and every one of you.

Charles Arbuthnot: If I may say, just briefly, if you put that in the context of how the US Government have helped their citizens, and I understand, equally, France and Germany have helped their citizens, and yet the UK, which has had the biggest casualties through this activity, have done nothing in support of their citizens.

Pamela White: I agree.  I did some work in Madrid with the Madrid bombing victims.  I attended a conference as one of the speakers, and the King of Spain came to support that conference.  That is how they support their victims.  In the Paris group, a chap called Guillaume, whose father was murdered on a flight that was blown up over Africa with Libyan explosives, took it on personally—I think he might have got some help from the Government—and he got an award for the passengers who were on that flight.

 

Q387   Lady Hermon: I have written down here a list of questions that popped into my head and at the bottom of the page I have written a question mark and “a meeting with the Foreign Secretary”.  However, I have picked up that in fact—let us move past the Foreign Secretary—it is a meeting with the Prime Minister David Cameron that you would like.  Am I right?  Yes.  I think there is unanimous agreement on that.  That is one thing we can do.  Charles, you mentioned an apology from the UK Government.  Could you clarify a little bit more or tease that out a little bit?  I beg your pardon, Susanne, you said it.

Susanne Dodd: I just want the UK Government to apologise for why they have not helped us like the US Government has helped them.  As Charles said, it is also true for France and Germany.  I just would like the UK Government to stand up and apologise to us victims.

 

Q388   Lady Hermon: That is all the victims.  It is not just Northern Ireland; it is Northern Ireland and throughout the entire UK.  It is all victims.  For compensation, it is compensation for the victims and survivors of IRA Libyansponsored violence.

Susanne Dodd: Yes.

Lady Hermon: Not just groups that are represented by solicitors.

Pamela White: This goes back to the hierarchy.  We are not little groups; we are all victims and I think Paul Tweed mentioned last week that it has to be a fair system.  The way it was going with that court case, I just believe it was like a certain nucleus of people who had been very badly affected, and they were quite right, but what upset me was it was just excluding so many victims, and this needs to be an equal thing.  How that process happens is another matter, if we ever get there.

 

Q389   Lady Hermon: That is for the Foreign Office and the Government to work that out, but that is what you would like to see.  Over and above the compensation and the apology, is there not at least one other item, and that is a network of support to deal with the trauma after an event like this?  It seems to be missing here on what you have referred to as the mainland.  We, in Northern Ireland, tend to think that we are the mainland, but when you refer to the mainland it is not England; it is England and Great Britain.  There does not seem, from your evidence, to have been much support for any of you, no matter where you live.  Is that a key demand or expectation from now on—how to improve all this?

Pamela White: I think so.  I know funding was going to Glencree.  I know their funding was affected.  Funding was and still is going to the Peace Centre at Warrington.  I think the 7/7 victims’ funding was cut, because it was going through a chap called Paulo at Brent Bereavement Services, who was dealing with all that.  What has happened to all those people is a different matter altogether, but there needs to be something set in place to support.  I would be very happy to advise on how not to do it and I have offered my services to the police or whoever.  I am very happy to assist anybody who has gone through this process, because I would not want it to happen to them, even after 30odd years.

 

Q390   Lady Hermon: Thank you.  I think it probably reflects the views of each of you: that in fact you would be quite happy to explain what should be put in place and to assist the Foreign Office, who I hope are watching this evidence session this morning.  I am confident that they will be.  Is there anything else that you would like to ask?  It is compensation; it is an apology; it is a network of support.

Pamela White: And the truth.

Lady Hermon: And the truth would help.  There is this abiding concern, anger, and suspicion that somewhere in the period roughly between 2005 and 2008 something odd has happened; compensation that you would have expected from the British Government did not happen, Americans have been compensated, other European victims of IRA violence have been compensated, but not British victims through the efforts of their own Government, which is a terrible indictment of our own Government.

Pamela White: I think because it was—I do not like to use the term “mainland”— over the water here, obviously because of the situation with the Troubles, there has been a lot of support going there, and quite rightly.  However, I do feel that victims who have been resident here have suffered greatly, and most of the support and funding has gone to Northern Ireland.  They might disagree, but I do believe that it is correct that that happens and that they do get the support.

 

Q391   Lady Hermon: To summarise it, you need more here in Great Britain.

Pamela White: Yes, and in the evidence last week, Paul Tweed mentioned that if there is compensation given, possibly it could be put into community projects.  The only thing I would say about that is, where I live, I am probably the only victim in the village, hopefully, and if it is put into hospitals and things, that probably will not work in my case, but I can understand in a setting like Omagh or Enniskillen or wherever.

 

Jack Lopresti: I would also like to thank you all for coming in today.  I have found your testimony very moving and very powerful.  For me, there are two issues with this inquiry.  The first thing is we need to establish why such an opportunity was missed by the Blair and Brown Governments when there was a stable Libyan Government.  At the moment, when we go to press the case and address these issues that is the first thing, as well as learning the lessons from that moving forward and working with the Committee and this Government and, when we have a stable Government in Libya, to address your concerns and help bring some comfort to you.

 

Oliver Colvile: I would just make one comment, and that is that America might also have a sense of guilt, because of course there was money given to NORAID.  Where that money was used I do not, frankly, quite know; there may well be a session where that needs to be looked at.  The other point that I would also make is that your evidence today has clearly demonstrated what I have felt for some time: that this is not just an issue for Northern Ireland.  The story of what happened came into this country as well and came over to the mainland too, and I think you have delivered a very powerful message during the course of your evidence.  As I say, I think we need to see other witnesses and other people who may have been victims of similar kinds of atrocities to the one that happened on 17 December 1983.

 

Q392   Mr Nigel Evans: When you were talking about David Cameron’s support, I did a little Google search and read some of the articles, and it did appear that he wanted to get this finally resolved and had people like Boris Johnson coming in and saying that it was appalling that all the victims of IRA terrorism in the UK had been left behind.  The Prime Minister set up this inquiry under Sir Kim Darroch.  Did you all give evidence to him?

Susanne Dodd: I wrote a letter to him.

 

Q393   Mr Nigel Evans: Is that the only involvement since David Cameron gave that commitment that this should now be resolved?  You are the only one who has had any involvement in that inquiry.

Susanne Dodd: I just wrote a letter to him asking what was going to happen, and he said, “The UK Government cannot get involved now.  It is a personal issue.”  I did email Boris Johnson as well and he said he cannot get involved.

 

Q394   Mr Nigel Evans: In which case, I would say that your request to have a meeting with the Prime Minister is very important, following his commitment to get this resolved.  It clearly has not been, it is dragging on too long, it is absolutely appalling, and I think a meeting with the Prime Minister now is the only way forward.

Pamela White: I am free this afternoon.

Chair: It might be slightly ambitious for this afternoon.

Lady Hermon: It is absolutely incredible what you have just said.  The Prime Minister gave his commitment; commitments have to be honoured; a meeting is a starting place.

Chair: Yes, absolutely.

 

Q395   Nigel Mills: Ms White, can I just take you back to the comment you were making about, in the event that any funds were obtained from Libya—which looks tricky given there are no or two Libyan Governments at the moment—how they could be fairly allocated.  I guess this is a oneoff shot and once some deal has been done with them there will not be any more.  Are you thinking of some kind of fund being set up that would allocate a set sum for every loss of life or every serious injury?  How would you, as victims, like to see this happen in the event there was some money to distribute?

Pamela White: If we do get compensation, as I said before, it needs to be equal and fair.  Whether or not you look at a similar system, like with criminal injuries or something like that, but the loss of a life is so much, or injuries—it is a very difficult one.  Also, with the timeframe in my incident, if people come forward will there be evidence that they were involved, such as medical records?  I am not sure if criminal injuries goes back that far.  Therefore, there might be an issue of setting up a system for how this is distributed fairly, but also ensuring that people who do come forward are genuine victims.  I do not know if that has answered your question.

 

Q396   Nigel Mills:  Yes.  It sounds easy to say, “We should get some money and it should be given to victims equally”.  It is a question of how you could have a system that you guys would all be happy with, which was fair and transparent.

Pamela White: I would need to give a bit of thought to this, but perhaps we could have people from various groups who would discuss it.  I would like to try to get away from the group mentality of, “This is our group and this is what we are entitled to”.  It is about trying to raise it a little bit above that.

Chair: That would be part of the challenge of dealing with this.

Pamela White: I personally—and I am sure the others here—would like to be certainly involved in that process, if possible.

Chair: Absolutely.  Can I thank you very much for coming?  It has been very moving and very valuable for us.  Thank you very much indeed.

              Oral evidence: HM Government support for UK victims of IRA attacks that used Gaddafi-supplied Semtex and Weapons, HC 406                            22