MI5 officers told to get on with the job in face of storm

MI5 officers were being stoical "getting on with the job, concentrating on the threat to national security" amid the criticism over their supposed complicity in the torture of Binyam Mohamed. That, at least, was the official message from Whitehall sources yesterday.

But what emerged yesterday was hardly comforting. The charges made by Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls, were damning. The secret service did not respect human rights, deliberately misled a Commons committee of MPs and Lords, and had a "culture of suppression" in its dealings with the court.

Mr Mohamed, who was arrested on suspicion of terrorism and who believes the Taliban "provided the best government Afghanistan has had in 20 years", suffered sleep deprivation while being verbally threatened, and was kept shackled during questioning.

The mistreatment took part in Pakistan while the Ethiopian-born Mr Mohamed was in custody of US authorities. It is unclear whether this was done by Americans or by agents of the ISI, the Pakistani secret police, which has itself been accused of helping to organise attacks by Islamist terrorist groups in a number of countries in pursuit of its own shadowy agenda.

There are no claims that MI5 took part in the abuse. But one of its agents, "Witness B" in court proceedings, "probably" knew of it in documents he read before flying out to interrogate Mr Mohamed.

Members of MI5 who are troubled by condemnation such as that levelled in this case can seek guidance from an "ethical counsellor". Officials refused to comment yesterday on whether anyone, including Witness B, had sought this option.

We do know, however, from a report of the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee, that some had raised "concerns... whether there was sufficient control for sharing information with countries that do not comply with international standards for the treatment of those in detention, and whether guidance for staff on these matters was sufficiently accessible and understood".

Witness B is now a key part of a Scotland Yard investigation into the Binyam Mohamed case, and others in MI5, according to the court, must also have known what the prisoner was being subjected to. Charges may follow if it is indeed the case that staff within MI5 were willing accomplices to human-rights abuse.

The government position is that the case against MI5 is fundamentally flawed and the judges had accepted "unsubstantiated" allegations. The disclosures of secret intelligence documents on the instructions of the judges, say MI5 and MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, have led to foreign agencies warning that they may, in the future, refuse to share information.

So worried was David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, about what was about to be disclosed by the Court of Appeal in London, that he telephoned the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, on Tuesday evening to warn her. Subsequently, a statement issued by Dennis Blair, the director at the office of national intelligence in Washington, DC, said: "The decision by a United Kingdom court to release classified information provided by the United States is not helpful, and we deeply regret it."

It is unlikely that the US will refuse to pass on intelligence which could prevent a terrorist attack in the UK. But other countries may, especially if it feels that as a result, its officials may in future face international warrants and prosecution.

Suggested Topics
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
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
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
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
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
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
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
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

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