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Couple from Norfolk relieved to escape Libya trouble

Chris (right) and Jackie Murphy at Gatwick Airport after returning from Libya.

Chris (right) and Jackie Murphy at Gatwick Airport after returning from Libya.

Archant

Among the British citizens fleeing the chaos of Libya's capital city Tripoli were Chris and Jackie Murphy, who own a house just outside Norwich.

"Gaddafi made his speech and immediately after we started hearing guns all around us."

Chris Murphy

The couple moved away from Norfolk five months ago after Mr Murphy took the job as country manager in the north African country for property company Chesterton, putting their £1.5m Victorian former vicarage in Horsford up for sale.

They managed to get back to Britain on one of the few flights out of Libya’s capital city, as reported in yesterday’s Evening News, and are now staying with their daughter Sarah in London while they wait with the rest of the world to see how the crisis in Libya ends.

Mr Murphy, 59, who used to work for Savills estate agents in Norwich after the couple moved to Norfolk in 2006, is unsure how the troubles will end but he is not surprised to see the unrest break out in the country which has long suffered under the control of dictator Colonel Gaddafi.

He said: “People seem to have been taken by surprise by this but perhaps we shouldn’t when you think of all the uprising there has been in Tunisia and Egypt, which are either side of Lybia.

“People didn’t think it would happen because Gaddafi wouldn’t let it happen, but it would seem only a matter of time now before he goes. I think it will be good if he goes but we will just have to wait and see what happens now. We should know in the next day or two because Friday is a holiday there and it will depend on what is preached to them, then we will see action.”

Mrs Murphy, 58, was working as a teacher at the International School in Tripoli and her husband’s office is in the middle of the city where the world’s focus has been mostly fixed this week.

The couple fled to Mrs Murphy’s school and joined other teachers scrambling for the next flight home, landing at Gatwick Airport on Wednesday on a plane that was just one third full, with a mass of UK media waiting to speak to some of the first Britons to return from Libya. It has been a terrifying week for them, as Mr Murphy continued: “It was Sunday when things started to get a bit tricky. We live about 20 miles west of Tripoli and it is a fairly safe residential area.

“That was until Gaddafi made his speech and immediately after we started hearing guns all around us, from north, east, south and west, that is when we started to become gravely worried.”

Libya is perhaps an unusual choice for a British couple to chose to live, but they moved there in the hope it was soon to enjoy a tourism boom.

Mr Murphy still feels this can happen though, and that he and his wife can return, as the country will need to be stabilised by the more developed western countries because of its key exports, namely, oil.

“If it happens and Gaddafi goes then there is going to be great pressure for the country to be stabilised and for a new regime to be installed,” he continued. “But will we just be exchanging one bad regime for another?

“We went there because it was a place we thought was going somewhere. It has got some very exciting countryside, and some very boring, but it has the best Roman ruins in the world which have been untouched since the Romans left in 400AD.”

Do you know anyone from Norfolk with links to Libya? Contact reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or on email to david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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