Britain's relations with postrevolutionary Libya were strained
because of the close political, economic, and military relationship
the British had cultivated with King Idris. After Qadhafi came
to power, Britain suspended sales of military equipment, and Libya
nationalized British Petroleum's interests, ostensibly in retribution
for perceived British complicity in the Iranian occupation of
three Persian Gulf islands. Libya supported Malta during that
country's negotiations regarding British military base leases.
Libya also allegedly supported the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
Nevertheless, in an October 1978 address in Tripoli, Qadhafi stated
that there were no differences so severe as to preclude the establishment
of good relations with Britain.
However, British-Libyan relations deteriorated markedly during
the 1980s. A critical point was reached in 1984 when a British
policewoman was killed by a gunman inside the Libyan People's
Bureau (embassy) in London. This incident led to the breaking
of diplomatic relations. Further discord followed the arrest of
six British citizens in Libya, evidently in retaliation for the
arrest of four Libyans in Manchester on charges stemming from
March 1984 bombings in London and Manchester. Relations plummeted
when Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher permitted United States
aircraft to use British bases on April 15, 1986, for a strike
on Libyan cities.
Data as of 1987