MI5 'misled MPs during torture inquiry'

Human rights lawyers question evidence given in Binyam Mohamed case

MI5 faces claims that it misled MPs during a parliamentary investigation into Britain's complicity in torture and rendition during the "war on terror".

The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), which oversees the work of the security service, MI5, has been asked to reopen a report it concluded two years ago following damning findings about the activities of secret agents in Pakistan, Morocco and London.

Human rights lawyers have written to Kim Howells MP, the chairman of the ISC, setting out what they say are glaring omissions in evidence provided by MI5 in relation to the detention and torture of the British resident Binyam Mohamed.

Last week it emerged in the High Court that the security service fed questions to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) while they must have have known Mr Mohamed was being illegally held in Morocco. Judges in the High Court said that a security service officer who had interviewed Mr Mohamed in Pakistan had also visited Morocco during his detention and alleged torture. MI5 has admitted feeding questions to the CIA, but has always maintained it did not know where Mr Mohamed was being held.

In a letter received by the committee yesterday, Reprieve, the human rights charity, claimed that secret agents attempted to cover these "crimes" by neglecting to inform the ISC – to whom they are accountable – of any of the damning evidence subsequently extracted by the High Court.

Reprieve specifically alleges that MI5 falsely informed the ISC that officers were "unaware" that Binyam Mohamed was being tortured in a secret prison in Morocco from 2003. By comparing the judges' revelations with the ISC Renditions Report published in 2007, Reprieve claims that the security service falsely informed the ISC that all contact with Binyam Mohamed ended in 2002. But it has since emerged MI5 continued to receive information from the CIA on Mr Mohamed until at least March 2004. Reprieve's director, Clive Stafford Smith, is calling for the conclusions in the ISC report on rendition to be re-evaluated from scratch.

Mr Stafford Smith said: "British agents seem to have committed perjury when telling the court that all efforts to question Binyam ended in February 2003, and they also misled the ISC, to whom they are supposedly accountable. In fact, the shameful co-operation with Binyam's torturers was still going on 15 months later, when Binyam had left the Moroccan torture chamber and arrived in the 'dark prison' in Afghanistan."

Mr Mohamed, an Ethiopian who was living in London, was arrested in Pakistan in April 2002 where he claims he was tortured before being interviewed by an MI5 officer known in court as Witness B.

He was secretly "rendered" to Morocco where he was tortured again before being transferred to Bagram in Afghanistan and then Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Mr Mohamed was freed earlier this year and is attempting to get records of his treatment released by the Government. MI5 denies colluding in Mr Mohamed's alleged torture, although the Metropolitan Police has launched its first ever inquiry into the service after a referral by the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland.