By Mark Watts
Only one dignitary has accepted an invite to the anniversary commemoration this month of WPC Yvonne Fletcher’s shooting dead outside the Libyan embassy – Libya’s ambassador.
Organisers are staggered that the Libyan ambassador to the UK, Mahmud Nacua, is the only “VIP” to have agreed to go.
Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, has declined the invite, which also went out at the beginning of March to the Metropolitan Police Service’s new commissioner, Cressida Dick, and senior ministers. They have not responded.
The snub comes just weeks after the killing of PC Keith Palmer in the Westminster terror attack.
The organiser of the commemoration, John Murray, a former Met officer and ex-colleague of Yvonne’s, said: “I have written to Sadiq Khan, Cressida Dick, the home secretary, the justice secretary, the new policing minister, to ask if they could spend five minutes of their time. To date, I have had no reply from most of those.”
“The interesting thing is that the only, if I can put it in quotes, ‘VIP’ who said they would go is the Libyan ambassador.”
On April 17, 1984, Murray was on duty as a PC outside the Libyan embassy to help police protests against the country’s then leader, Muammar Gaddafi, who was killed in 2011.
Murray was standing next to WPC Fletcher when she was shot. He was pictured in the iconic photograph (above) of Yvonne after the shooting, with his arm around her shoulders, supporting her head.
He said: “I went with her in the ambulance to the hospital when she was still alive, and I was talking to her.
“I said that I would find out what happened, and I promised her that I would find out. Those were probably the last words that she heard.”
Yvonne died after arriving in hospital.
He says that he knows who killed Yvonne, but is not publicly naming the culprit.
After an 11-day siege at the embassy, those inside were allowed to leave and fly to Libya.
The memorial event is to be held in St James’s Square, outside Libya’s former embassy building in London. The anniversary falls on Easter Monday this year, so the event will be the following day.
Murray continued: “I am expecting more than 100 former colleagues to attend.”
He said that the event was mainly aimed at Yvonne’s former police colleagues, while her family was holding a private ceremony.
Geoff Platt, a former Met officer of 25 years’ service, is attending the commemoration, and is writing a book due out later this year on the shooting and embassy siege. He said: “I am disgusted that Cressida Dick has failed to respond to an invitation to attend this memorial service for Yvonne.”
Police insiders are frustrated that nothing has happened since the Met arrested a former Gaddafi supporter in November 2015 on suspicion of conspiracy to murder the WPC.
The Met has neither passed a file to the CPS nor decided to take no further action, and instead keeps re-bailing him. Tighter curbs were introduced last week on police bail.
Murray said: “They had a big fanfare – a big, massive press conference – when this arrest happened. New Scotland Yard’s briefing room was full to the brim with the international Press. Then, suddenly, nowt.”
“I have told all my ex-colleagues and all these other people that this year I want a good turn-out at the memorial to say to people, ‘Look, we have not gone away, we have not forgotten. What is going on?’”
“We will also say a few prayers for PC Palmer,” he added. “His death reminds us that nothing has changed: police men and women lay their lives on the line every single day.”
Murray is a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Reunion, due to be broadcast later this morning (April 9), about Yvonne’s shooting.
Oliver Miles, the UK’s then ambassador to Libya, is expected to tell the programme of his concern that no one acted on his warnings, relayed from the Libyan government just hours before the shooting of violence at the demonstration.
Secret government documents disclosed in 2014 suggest that Miles was not especially concerned at the time, writing that he had bet that no such demonstration would take place.
Mark Watts (@MarkWatts_1) is the co-ordinator of the FOIA Centre. Another version of this article appeared today in The Sun on Sunday.