British Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox apologized to Iceland through the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten for the previous government’s use of what has become known as “the terrorist law” in seizing Landsbanki’s assets in autumn 2008.
As many in Iceland remember, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling used sections of a law known as the “Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001” to freeze Landsbanki’s assets after Icesave collapsed, in an effort to keep the bank from pulling its funds out of the country. Many Icelanders took offence to the move, and Fox – a conservative – told Aftenposten he agrees.
Speaking candidly with the newspaper, he said that the previous Labour-run government’s reaction to the crisis was not exactly graceful, and use of the anti-terrorist law against Iceland will not be repeated. He said that the Nordic countries and Britain have long been friends, and that he wants to re-build that relationship.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Össur Skarphéðinsson told RÚV that he has been in contact with officials in the new government of the UK who have also expressed regret with the use of the anti-terrorism law. Össur said that he believes this is a sign that the British are willing to be more flexible in arriving at a settlement over Icesave.