Press release

Press briefing: morning 31 March 2011

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Prime Minister's Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on Libya.

Libya

Asked about Moussa Koussa, the PMS told the assembled press that the Foreign Office had put out a statement last night, which confirmed that he arrived at Farnborough airport last night, that he travelled there under his own free will and that he was resigning his post.

The PMS said that Moussa Koussa’s resignation showed that the Gaddafi regime was under pressure and re-iterated the government’s call for Gaddafi to go now. He called on Gaddafi’s henchman to come to their senses and abandon the regime. As the Foreign Secretary had made clear, Moussa Koussa was not being offered any immunity from British or international justice.

The PMS added that Mr Koussa had arrived in Britain on a private plane from Tunisia. The government did have some knowledge of his intention to come to the UK and he was met by British officials on arrival in the UK. Mr Koussa was currently in a safe location in the UK and was meeting with British officials.

On when the government had first discussed with Mr Koussa the possibility of him coming to the UK, the PMS replied that we had some knowledge of his intention to come to the UK, which was why we had met him on arrival. Asked if the government had facilitated in any way Mr Koussa’s travel from Tunisia to the UK, the PMS said that Mr Koussa had made his own way from Tunisia to the UK.

Asked about the question of imposing international justice, the PMS replied that there was a resolution in place which set up a process. That process was being led by a prosecutor and all these issues were matters for that prosecutor.

Asked why Mr Koussa had come to the UK, the PMS said that he had come of his own free will and had clearly resigned from the Gaddafi regime. The PMS said that beyond that he could not speak for him.

When asked about the British justice that Mr Koussa would not be immune from, the PMS replied that the way justice was carried out in this country meant that it was not a matter for the government but a matter for prosecuting authorities. Asked if Mr Koussa was under arrest, the PMS said no, he was in a safe location in the UK.

Asked if conversations with Mr Koussa would move on to other subjects, such as Lockerbie in the future, the PMS replied that the position on Lockerbie was that there was an investigation led by the Scottish authorities and that investigation was still open, but it was a matter for them. Asked about the Scotland Yard investigation on Yvonne Fletcher, the PMS said that the same applied; there was an investigation still open and it was a matter for the Met police.

Asked if there had been any discussions between the British authorities and Mr Koussa on Lockerbie, the PMS said that he was not aware of any discussions. Asked if the government had facilitated any contact between Mr Koussa and legal authorities in various parts of the UK, the PMS said that if there were requests then we would respond to them. There was an investigation on Lockerbie that was still open and that was a matter for the Scottish authorities. There was an investigation still open into the Yvonne Fletcher shooting and that was a matter for the Met police.

Put that there had been no requests from legal authorities in the UK to talk to Mr Koussa, the PMS replied that the government would respond to requests.

Asked if the Prime Minister had ‘signed off’ Mr Koussa coming to the UK and had there been any discussions between the Prime Minister and President Obama, the PMS replied that there had been some contact with the US, but he would not get into any further details.

Asked what the rationale was behind letting Mr Koussa into the UK, the PMS said that it was Mr Koussa’s decision to travel to the UK. On whether the Prime Minister consulted the Attorney General on the matter, the PMS reiterated that he would not be getting into further details on the subject.

Asked what the Foreign Secretary had meant by Mr Koussa being a ‘channel of communication’ the PMS replied that point that the Foreign Secretary had been making was that Mr Koussa, being the Foreign Minister, was his opposite number and would have had contact with him.

On whether Mr Koussa would be staying in this country, the PMS said that he would not speculate on what happened next. Asked if he had requested asylum, the PMS replied that he was not aware of any request.

Asked if Mr Koussa had expressed a desire ‘to play a role’, the PMS said that Mr Koussa was talking to officials today and we would not be providing a commentary on those discussions.

Asked if government officials would be asking Mr Koussa about Lockerbie at all, the PMS said that he would not be providing commentary on those discussions. The PMS added that there was a clear system in this country; the relevant authorities dealt with criminal cases.

On whether the Dumfries and Galloway police force were told Mr Koussa would be coming to the UK, the PMS said that he did not think so. The PMS added that he did not know precisely what phone calls would have been made but he doubted there had been very many.

Asked if the government would facilitate if other countries such as France or the US wanted to talk to Mr Koussa, the PMS replied that we were having discussions with him but he wouldn’t get into any further details.

On what Mr Koussa’s status was in terms of visas and whether he would be free to leave the safe location this afternoon, the PMS replied that we never commented on individual cases.