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News of Colonel Gaddafi's message brings back Yvonne Fletcher's mum's torment

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: January 07, 2014

Yvonne Fletcher was gunned down outside the Libyan Embassy in London

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The mother of a murdered WPC spoke of her ongoing torment after it was revealed government spies failed to pass on an intercepted message from Colonel Gaddafi.

Yvonne Fletcher, 25, was hit by machinegun fire while on duty outside the Libyan Embassy in London when a demonstration turned violent 30 years ago.

It was revealed today that GCHQ intercepted, decoded and translated, an order by the Libyan leader to "cover the streets of London with blood".

But the message was not passed on by the listening post until after the murder, according to a former worker at the Government spy base.

Yvonne's mother Queenie Fletcher, 80, said no revelation would change what happened.

Speaking from her home near Shaftesbury, Wiltshire, she said: "When something is resolved, every year something else happens or is said. I mean it has been going on.

"People keep asking us the same questions - what do we think about this or that - but it will never go away, whatever happens.

"For us, it does not matter - it will never go away."

Miss Fletcher was hit by fire from the Libyan embassy while policing an anti-Gaddafi protest outside the building on April 17, 1984.

Her death led to a 15-year break in diplomatic relations between the two countries and police are still investigating the murder.

Mike Arnold, 56, a GCHQ technology officer at the time, yesterday revealed the missed message.

He said a communications supervisor had walked into his officer hours after Yvonne's death with two telexes which he was told had been missed by the night staff.

The exchange between the Gaddafi-run London embassy - known as the People's Bureau - and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tripoli, ordered the embassy to attack the crowds.

Asked about whether she thought passing on the message would have made a difference, Mrs Fletcher remained stoic.

She said: "We knew that she was going to a demonstration that day and she had been going.

"There were lots of demonstrations at the time and I think everyone thought this one was just another demonstration.

"I suppose we were [understanding].

"It was something that she wanted to do, be in the police force right from when she was quite tiny.

"She wanted to be there."

She said her family was told of the alleged missed message in the weeks after her daughter's death.

She added: "It was a long time ago so it is difficult to say how we felt. I think we were quite shocked but it was one of those things.

"It was just one more thing we were told, one more thing to hear.

"We had to get on with life and think about other things.

"I think people have known all along about this, people suspected."

The authorised history of MI5 confirms the existence of the two intercepted messages, but states the security service did not learn of them until after the demonstration.

The spy agency's failure led to an internal inquiry which changed the way it reacted to terrorism-related intelligence.

Diplomatic relations between Britain and Libya only resumed in 1999 after Gaddafi formally apologised to Mrs Fletcher and the Libyan Government paid out £250,000 compensation to her family.

She gave all the money to daughters Heather, Sarah, and Debbie.

A spokesman for GCHQ said: "It is a longstanding practice that we do not comment on intelligence matters."

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