A former chairman of Marks and Spencer - whose father survived being shot in the face by Carlos the Jackal in 1973 - warned Margaret Thatcher during the Anglo-Libyan crisis of 1984 about Muammar Gaddafi’s support for the Provos, it’s been revealed.
Marcus Sieff (Lord Brimpton) wrote to Mrs Thatcher on April 25, 1984, after shots had been fired on an anti-Gaddafi protest outside the Libyan People’s Bureau in Central London leaving 12 injured including police constable Yvonne Fletcher, who later died. Three days after the incident a bomb - also blamed on the Libyans - exploded in the luggage collection hall at Heathrow Airport injuring 25 people.
Lord Brimpton, decided to write to Mrs Thatcher, because ten years earlier Ramírez Sánchez - Carlos the Jackal - had shot his father Teddy in the face at his home in St John’s Wood. He believed Libya had harboured Sánchez who had been working for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
As Lord Brimpton explained in a note to Mrs Thatcher: “Following the terrorist Carlos’ attempt to assassinate Teddy Sieff in December 1973 and a member of Special Branch saying to me shortly afterwards: ‘I suspect the terrorist was in the Libyan Embassy within 30 minutes,’ I tried to find out what motivated the Libyan leader.”
Lord Brimpton’s research, which was forwarded to 10 Downing Street, claimed Gaddafi had been inspired by Gamal Nasser and had wanted a union between Libya and Egypt.
However, when this was refused by Nasser, Lord Brimpton claimed Gaddafi turned to financing international terrorism including the IRA.
In a synopsis, which he had first sent to Edward Heath in 1974, Lord Brimpton wrote: “Gaddafi decided that the only way he would become a force in the world was as a financier and promoter of revolution and terrorism; he financed terrorism from the Phillipines to Ireland.”
He claimed he had recommended to Mr Heath that he break diplomatic ties with Libya in 1974.
“I gave as one important reason Gadaffi’s support for the IRA. Britain had captured a ship as it left Libyan waters with IRA trained terrorists, money and arms all supplied by Libya on board.”
Further Government documents de-classified under the 30-year rule show the European press was focusing on Gaddafi’s support for the IRA in its reportage of the Anglo-Libyan crisis.
The British mission in Bern advised London how the Swiss media reported: “Libya’s threat to give active assistance to the IRA.”
Equally, the same report to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) stated: “The Tribune de Genève carried the most forthright commentary. It was no secret that the IRA received aid from Libya and it was only surprising that Britain had not broken relations earlier.”
A record of a debate in the House of Commons was also held along with the documents above.
Jim Molyneaux, the Unionist MP for Lagan Valley, mentioned the “long-standing Libyan support for Irish terrorists” and Eldon Griffiths, the Conservative MP for Bury St Edmonds, also mentioned the Libyans’ “undoubted connection with the IRA.”