Chris SummersAll materialsWrite to the authorYvonne Fletcher, 25, was on duty in St James’s Square in central London on 17 April 1984 when she was shot by a Sterling sub-machine gun fired from a window of the Libyan People’s Bureau, the de facto embassy. Now, 37 years later, someone has been found legally liable in a UK court.Judges in the High Court in London have ruled that Saleh Ibrahim Mabrouk, a former aide of Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, was partly to blame for the murder of PC Yvonne Fletcher.The gunman – who has never been identified – is believed to have been aiming at crowds of Libyan dissidents who were protesting against the regime of Colonel Gaddafi but accidentally struck PC Fletcher, who was among officers keeping the demonstration under control.
John Murray, a retired police officer and friend of Fletcher’s, cradled her as she died and has brought a civil action against Mabrouk, who was arrested in 2015.
Murray, who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder in the wake of the incident, has won nominal damages of £1 for assault and battery.Mr Justice Martin Spencer said: “I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that there existed a common design to respond to the planned anti-Gaddafi protest by using violence.”Murray, now 66, said: “We have finally achieved justice for Yvonne. This has been a battle lasting 37 years. It is a huge weight off my shoulders. My promise to Yvonne Fletcher to find those responsible for the shooting and to get justice has taken a huge step forward after all these years.”The shooting led to a huge diplomatic incident between Britain and Libya.
The embassy was besieged for nine days but eventually all those inside – who were covered by diplomatic immunity – were evacuated and sent back to Libya.PC Fletcher’s killer has never been identified but one of the prime suspects, Abdulqadir al-Baghdadi, was found dead at his home in Tripoli after the fall of Gaddafi in 2011.
Libyan leader colonel Muammar Gaddafi (C), salutes troops during a military parade on 1 September 1994 in Tripoli for the celebration of the 25th anniversary of his arrival in power. In 2017 the Metropolitan Police said they believed they knew who was responsible for PC Fletcher’s murder but they dropped their investigation because elements of the evidence could not be heard in court for “national security” reasons.Phillippa Kaufmann QC, for Murray, said Mabrouk was not the gunman but was a “key participant” in the deliberate use of violence.Ms Kaufmann said of Mabrouk: “He – together with a small number of others – was in control of the embassy, the weapons being harboured there and who was permitted to gain entry. It is inconceivable that the individuals who fired from the first floor window were not acting under his direction, instruction, inducement, incitement and/or persuasion.”