UK probes Gaddafi assassination plot claim

Published Mar 30, 2001


London - British state prosecutors are studying a detailed police report on allegations that British intelligence was involved in a plot to assassinate Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, the Guardian reported on Friday.

The claims were made by renegade spy David Shayler, who stands trial next month on charges of breaching legislation on state secrets.

According to the Guardian, police investigated the claims and submitted a detailed report to the Crown Prosecution Service.

It is now considering the file, and hopes to make a recommendation soon to London's Metropolitan Police as to what action to take.

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook dismissed Shayler's claims as "pure fantasy" when they first emerged in 1998.

The Guardian said parliament's intelligence and security committee was now also inquiring - usually it avoids matters that are the subject of a police investigation.

Perhaps significantly, Shayler - who used to work for Britain's domestic intelligence agency - is not charged with unlawfully disclosing information about the Gaddafi plot.

His trial is on charges of revealing information about MI5

activities to a British Sunday newspaper.

The Guardian said papers relating to the involvement of officers from MI6 - Britain's foreign intelligence agency - were given to police in 1999 when Shayler was living in voluntary exile in France.

He returned to Britain last year and is on bail pending trial.

Shayler was interviewed by police, who initially wondered if MI6 officers could be arrested as the alleged plot was planned in 1995, before legislation on conspiracy to commit crime abroad was introduced.

Police now appear to have decided that there may be a case to answer, the Guardian said.

The law protects MI6 officers over activities abroad that would be illegal in Britain, but only with the authorisation of the foreign secretary.

Malcolm Rifkind, Cook's predecessor at the time of the alleged plot, says he was not told about it. - Sapa-AFP

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