UK intelligence 'knew of terror suspects torture'

Pressure for a public inquiry into alleged British collusion in the torture of terror suspects was raised today with the publication of a fresh report on the treatment of five UK nationals.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) organisation said its five-year study had found "credible" evidence, corroborated by Pakistani officials, that UK intelligence was aware of the abuse.



Based on interviews with the suspects, their families and lawyers, the report concluded that, while there was no evidence of direct involvement, "UK complicity is clear".



Four of the individuals met British officials while detained in Pakistan, the report said, at times when "clear and visible signs of torture" including the removal of fingernails, were evident.



One Pakistani intelligence source told HRW that British and American agents involved in one case were not just "perfectly aware that we were using all means possible to extract information" but "grateful that we were doing so".



Ministers have denied any policy "to collude in, solicit, or directly participate in abuses of prisoners" or to cover up abuses and have firmly resisted demands for an independent probe.



Two influential Commons committees have backed an inquiry after raising serious questions about the UK's involvement and suggesting the Government could be in breach of international obligations.



There have been a string of allegations about the involvement of UK intelligence agencies in the questioning of terrorist suspects abroad, including supplying questions for interrogators to ask.



Scotland Yard is conducting criminal investigations into claims that MI6 was complicit in the abuse of Binyam Mohamed, a British resident who alleges he was tortured while being held at sites in Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan, and the case of a non-Briton.



John Scarlett, the then head of M16, insisted in August that there had been "no torture and no complicity in torture" by the British secret service.



In a series of demands on ministers, HRW called for "a full and independent public inquiry with subpoena powers" to investigate the claims of collusion and the publication, promised by Prime Minister Gordon Brown earlier this year, of the guidance issued to intelligence services.



All allegations of complicity should be investigated, it said, with prosecutions brought where there was sufficient evidence "regardless of position or rank".



And Britain should take "all necessary measures" to ensure torture was not used.



"British intelligence and law enforcement colluded with and turned a blind eye to the use of torture on terrorism suspects in Pakistan.



"British officials knew that Pakistani intelligence agencies routinely used torture, were aware of specific cases and did not intervene," HRW's senior South Asia researcher, Ali Dayan Hasan, said.



Such complicity had been confirmed by unnamed UK and Pakistani officials, the report said.



"A key lesson from the past eight years of global efforts to combat terrorism is that the use of torture and ill-treatment is deeply counter-productive," Mr Hasan went on.



"It undermines the moral legitimacy of governments that rely on it and serves as a recruiting tool for terrorist organisations.



"The evil of terrorism does not justify participating in or using the results of torture. Until an independent inquiry is held and those responsible held accountable, Britain's reputation as a rights-respecting nation will stand tarnished."



A Foreign Office spokesman said: "The Government rejects in the strongest possible terms the suggestion that a policy of complicity in torture has been in place.

"The report's allegations are not new and we have responded to them in Parliament. Some of these cases have already been considered and rejected by the UK courts.



"We have taken a leading role in international efforts to eradicate torture. There is no truth in suggestions that the Security and Intelligence Services operate without control or oversight.



"There is no truth in the more serious suggestion that it is our policy to collude in, solicit, or even directly participate in abuses of prisoners. Nor is it true that alleged wrong-doing is covered up."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration Engineer

£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: These refrigeration specialists...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Logistics and Supply Chain

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an operational role and...

Recruitment Genius: CNC Sheet Metal Worker / Fabricator

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working within the workshop of ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st / 2nd Line IT Support Engineer

£20000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist high tech compa...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral