UK to set up torture allegation probe: BBC


Prime Minister David Cameron will announce soon he is setting up an inquiry into allegations British security services were complicit in torture of terrorism suspects overseas, the BBC reported yesterday.

The broadcaster said Cameron would make an announcement as early as Wednesday (today) on the inquiry, which it said would be led by a judge.

The inquiry could recommend compensation to people found to have been victims of torture carried out by foreign security services, with the knowledge of British intelligence officials, according to the BBC.
“Allegations of complicity in torture are … important questions that the government will make announcements on in due course,” a spokeswoman for Cameron said when asked about the BBC report. Government officials declined to give further details.

Both parties that make up the British coalition government — the centre-right Conservatives and centre-left Liberal Democrats — called before the May 6 election for an investigation into claims of British complicity in torture.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said in May that the government was working on what form an inquiry should take but declined to say whether it would be a judicial inquiry, which would have greater authority.

In February, the Court of Appeal published a judgment strongly criticising Britain’s security services over the alleged torture of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee.

A senior judge said that Britain’s MI5 domestic spy agency had a “dubious record” about claims of abuse suffered by Binyam Mohamed at the hands of CIA agents.

The Ethiopian national and British resident was arrested in Pakistan in April 2002, transferred to Afghanistan in 2004 and later moved to Guantanamo Bay. He was never charged and returned to Britain in February last year.

Ministers in the former Labour government and the head of MI5 denied in February that British agents colluded in torture.

Human rights group Reprieve said it was delighted by reports of a planned inquiry into torture allegations. It said the inquiry must be led by a judge or former judge and allow as much evidence as possible to be made public.