Libyan spy who worked for Colonel Gaddafi's regime in legal battle to remain in UK

Robert Verkaik
·4-min read
The spy spy worked for Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's brutal secret police - Getty
The spy spy worked for Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's brutal secret police - Getty

A Libyan spy who worked for Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's brutal secret police has a legal battle to be granted asylum in the UK.

The 30-year-old man, named only as MS in court documents, was a member of Libya's feared Internal Security Service (ISS) and reported on students and neighbours suspected of opposing the regime.

A UK court has upheld his claim that if he is deported to Libya he faces persecution and torture in his home country.

The case follows revelations in Sunday Telegraph that the Home Office has secretly excluded from Britain the prime suspect in the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher.

Libyan Saleh Ibrahim Mabrouk, who had claimed asylum in 2011 after the fall of Gaddafi, was stopped from returning to the UK after he visited Libya last year.

Last night Andrew Bridgen, Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire, told the Sunday Telegraph: 'The British sense of fair play is being stretched beyond its elastic limit by what appear to be ludicrous judgments granted to refugees and asylum seekers.'

In the new case, MS, who worked in one of Gaddafi's prisons, fled Libya for the UK after the fall of the regime.

He sought asylum in 2013 claiming protection under the Human Rights Act, saying if he returned to Libya he would suffer retribution from those whom he had informed on.

He also said he feared being tortured by Gaddafi's enemies.

Initially, his claim for asylum was refused by the Home Secretary on the grounds that he had 'aided and abetted crimes against humanity' through his work with the secret police.

Home Office lawyers argued that four students, a university lecturer and a neighbour were all arrested by Gaddafi's feared Internal Security Service after MS passed on his intelligence.

Some of them were held in Jdeida Prison were MS later worked.

The Home Secretary said that the Gaddafi regime 'engaged in widespread or systematic attacks directed against the civilian population, namely by detaining, torturing and killing (in particular by the ISS) opponents of the regime with particular reference to the period leading up to the Libyan Revolution in 2011'.

Government lawyers argued that MS's involvement in crimes against humanity meant he fell outside the protection of the international conventions for the protection of refugees.

But MS appealed the decision, arguing that he did not know that Gaddafi and the ISS were involved in torture and murder.

Now a judge has ruled in MS's favour, upholding his appeal in the Upper Immigration Tribunal.

In his written judgement Judge Andrew Grubb said: "I am satisfied that the judge [the first to hear his appeal] reached a rational finding for sustainable reasons that the appellant was to be believed and that, as a result, it had not been established that there were "serious reasons" to consider that he was guilty of a crime against humanity through his involvement in the ISA (ISS) between 2010 and 2011.

The judge was entitled to reject the Secretary of State's reliance on Art 1F(a) [of the Refugee Convention] and to allow the appellant's appeal on asylum grounds."

Last week Boris Johnson told the House of Commons that he will consider reopening the criminal inquiry into the prime suspect linked to the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher.

The Prime Minister made the pledge after The Sunday Telegraph reported that Saleh Ibrahim Mabrouk had been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder in 2015, but the case against him was controversially dropped on the grounds of national security in 2017.

WPC Fletcher was shot dead outside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984. Mabrouk is the only person that was ever arrested in connection with WPC Fletcher's murder.

He was a senior member of the 'revolutionary committee' that ran the Libyan embassy at the time of the murder.

He was expelled from Britain in the aftermath but allowed back in 2000 after Tony Blair restored relations with Libya.

In 2011 Mabrouk returned to live in Berkshire after claiming asylum in the UK. He was arrested in 2015 in connection with the murder but was told two years later the case would not go forward.