Wales politics

Plaid Cymru rejects claim of Gaddafi donation

Muammar Gaddafi Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Muammar Gaddafi ruled Libya for more than 40 years before being deposed and killed in 2011

Plaid Cymru has dismissed claims that it was given £25,000 by former Libyan dictator Col Muammar Gaddafi in 1976.

The claims have been made by Dr Carl Clowes, a party activist who visited the north African state at the time as a guest of the Arab Socialist Union.

He told BBC Wales the Libyans were keen to forge links with Plaid Cymru as a socialist party and asked how they could help.

Plaid Cymru said there was "no record or knowledge" of any such donation.

Public health consultant Dr Clowes made the claim in his autobiography, to be published in October.

Image copyright Y Lolfa/Carl Clowes
Image caption Carl Clowes meets Mabrouk Dredi in Libya with Brian Morgan Edwards in 1976 - from the book Super Furrys, Tywysog Seeiso a Miss Siberia by Carl Clowes, published by Y Lolfa

He told BBC Radio Wales he was part of a four-man Plaid Cymru delegation which visited Libya in 1976 to see how the country had used its oil riches to build schools and hospitals.

The group was led by Dr Phil Williams, who later became a Plaid Cymru AM.

"It may have been controversial but we went for the right motivation," Dr Clowes said.

"We wanted to see what was being done in the country, and we were impressed by what we saw.

"That isn't to say of course that [life under] Gaddafi was all roses.

"This was a man who clearly was concerned to see the capitalist system in the west undermined.

"In a sense, Plaid Cymru as a socialist party was something he could identify with."

Image caption Dr Carl Clowes sees no reason why Plaid Cymru should have objected to such a donation

The offer came at the end of the visit from Mabrouk Dredi, a member of the Arab Socialist Union who had been the Welsh group's host, Dr Clowes said.

"He suggested having heard what we had to say throughout the previous days that they would like to be in a position to help.

"That took us a bit by surprise and we heard nothing more at the time.

"It was only a month or so later that one of the four of us who went, Brian Morgan Edwards who was treasurer of Plaid in that period... said some money had arrived - £25,000 [current worth about £160,000].

"It was to be donated by the Arab Socialist Union.

"I have no doubt in my mind what Brian told me - I have no doubt in my mind what I heard when I was out there, that they would see how they could help us."

He added: "[The money] was unconditional ... if goes into the coffers and helps support the general activities of Plaid Cymru and the aim of creating a socialist country why would one object to it?"

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Col Gaddafi meets the then UK prime minister Tony Blair in 2007

Asked whether it was wise for Plaid Cymru to accept money from the Libyan regime, Dr Clowes pointed out that many western leaders developed friendly ties with Col Gaddafi before he was deposed and killed in the 2011 Libyan uprising.

"Let's bear in mind that [Tony] Blair was embracing Gaddafi some years later," he said.

"Politics is not a clean business at times."

A Plaid Cymru spokesperson said: "The trip to Libya was well documented at the time and since.

"There is absolutely no record or knowledge of any such donation being made to Plaid Cymru."

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