Mystery delay on check into torture claims

Libya has failed to grant British police leave to interview alleged victims of rendition

Detectives investigating allegations of British involvement in illegal rendition and torture are being hampered in their efforts to interview witnesses.

Attempts to interview two Libyans who say they were tortured by the Gaddafi regime after being returned to Tripoli with British and US help are being thwarted by a delay in granting permission for detectives to travel to Libya.

Without witness statements, the investigation to discover the extent of British knowledge and involvement is effectively blocked.

Details of the frustrated investigation emerged after it was revealed that the UK and Libya had quickly reached a deal permitting Scotland Yard detectives to travel to Tripoli to pursue their investigation into PC Yvonne Fletcher, who was murdered by a Libyan official inside its London embassy in 1984.

It will also fuel speculation that the two countries are eager to reach an agreement which allows both to avoid awkward or embarrassing legal or official inquiries. It is also likely to add pressure on the UK Government to launch a fresh inquiry into allegations of wrongdoing by the UK's security services. Justice Minister Ken Clarke announced that an inquiry claims that MI5 and MI6 had aided and abetted the rendition, and ill-treatment of terrorism suspects in the wake of 9/11 could not continue because of the Scotland Yard investigation into the Libyan allegations.

The fresh investigation was prompted by the discovery of evidence implicating British officials which was found in the office of the former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi.

One of the alleged rendition and torture victims, Abdel Hakim Belhadj, 45, a Libyan military commander, is now suing former foreign secretary Jack Straw. The legal move follows the revelation that the British government had facilitated the rendition of Mr Belhadj, although it is unclear at exactly what level.

Mr Belhadj claims that in 2004, CIA agents took him against his will from Thailand to Libya, via the UK-controlled island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. At that time Mr Belhadj was the leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, living in exile in China. MI5 believed LIFG had close links to al-Qa'ida and Mr Belhadj alleges he and his wife were detained by US agents in Bangkok as they travelled to the UK to claim political asylum. A second man, identified as Abu Abdullah Sadiq, says he was tortured during the rendition process itself as well as after his arrival in Libya, where he was subsequently imprisoned.

It is understood the Metropolitan Police applied for visas to travel to Libya to interview Mr Belhadj and other witnesses in February but are still awaiting a reply according to Westminster sources. A source said: "The police applied for the visas at the end of February and have had no news back from the Libyans. It is a little frustrating now to read that the Prime Minister can arrange with the Libyan president for the officers investigating Yvonne Fletcher to go over just like that."

A Met Police spokesman said: "Talks will be held with the Foreign Office and Libya to arrange a visit."

The Libyan embassy was unavailable for comment.

Suggested Topics
News
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits