A RETIRED MP has told how he met Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s henchman Moussa Koussa during a visit to Libya.
John Cummings met Moussa Koussa, the Libyan Foreign Minister who is in the UK after apparently defecting from Gaddafi’s regime, when he was MP for Easington.
Mr Cummings was among a delegation of MPs who went to Libyan capital Tripoli to improve relations between the UK and Libya.
He and other British MPs spent a week in the North African country to build relations after Libya was shunned by much of the world for the 1988 bombing of the PanAm plane above Lockerbie, in Scotland, which killed 270 people.
The country is back in the international spotlight after the Libyan Government’s violent response to an uprising inspired by anti-authoritarian protests that swept Arab countries.
Now, Mr Koussa, Libya’s foreign minister and Gaddafi’s former head of intelligence, has arrived in the UK and has been questioned by MI6 officers and diplomats.
Mr Cummings, 67, who was Easington MP from 1987 until he retired last year, said: “We spent about a week in Tripoli.
“We were the first official parliamentary delegation to visit the place and tried to establish diplomatic relations with Libya.”
Former Labour MP Mr Cummings said the visit was a “gesture of goodwill” after various incidents including Lockerbie and Libya exporting arms all over Africa.
During the 2001 visit, Mr Cummings met privately with Mr Koussa and former Scottish MP Tam Dalyell, who wanted to question Mr Koussa about Lockerbie.
He said: “Koussa was a gentleman.
“He spoke excellent English and was extremely accommodating with the questions put to him by Tam Dalyell.”
Mr Cummings added: “Koussa is here to claim political asylum and I wouldn’t have thought he had a hidden agenda. But you just don’t know what his motives are.”
He said he was “quite ambivalent” when he heard the news of Mr Koussa’s arrival and added: “It isn’t the first time people who have been suspected of something have applied for asylum in this country.”
Mr Koussa told Mr Dalyell the Gaddafi regime had not been responsible for the Lockerbie bomb and pointed the finger at Palestinian terrorists, according to a Scottish newspaper.
Mr Cummings said there are still “many questions to be answered” regarding Lockerbie and added: “It’s not a matter of believing. We have seen no evidence to support this claim.”
Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi was jailed in 2001 over the atrocity but was freed from Scottish prison in 2009 on compassionate grounds after it was revealed he had “advanced-stage” cancer.
Mr Cummings added: “He was found guilty by the courts and until further evidence comes up, we have got to accept it.”