Britain may have colluded with America in the rendition of terror suspects that involved "torture flights" from UK territory, judges were told yesterday.
The claim was made by Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni, 28, a former Guantanamo Bay inmate who was returned to Pakistan in August 2009 after seven years in custody.
Mr Madni alleges he was detained in Indonesia on 9 January 2002 and sent to Egypt, where he endured three months of torture. He alleges he was beaten, electrocuted, denied medical treatment and hung from metal hooks attached to the ceiling.
His lawyers, the legal charity Reprieve, say that there is "considerable circumstantial evidence" that the plane carrying Madni from Indonesia to Egypt passed through the British territory of the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia. Yesterday they asked the High Court in London to force the British Government to hand over all the information it might have about the flight, including the names of the US personnel Reprieve claims were aboard. They contend that documents held by the British Government could provide evidence that the UK authorities knew of the rendition flight and "turned a blind eye".
Lord Justice Toulson said it was also Mr Madni's case that "someone with an English accent" whom he suspected might have been "some kind of UK official" even though he said he was a member of the US national security service, was involved in his questioning, and was therefore complicit in his ill-treatment.
Nathalie Lieven QC, appearing for Mr Madni, said there was potential for Mr Madni to take legal action in the UK over the alleged complicity. In 2008 the Government was forced to make an embarrassing admission after the US admitted it had used Diego Garcia for rendition flights.
The court directed Mr Madni to apply for permission to seek judicial review of the Government's refusal to release documents his legal team say could support his case.
It is understood that Mr Madni was detained at the request of the CIA after they claimed to have discovered a link to Richard Reid, the so-called British "shoe bomber".
Mr Madni has persistently denied any connection with Reid. Diego Garcia is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory and has been made available to the US for defence purposes since 1967.
In June 2004, former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said: "The United States have repeatedly assured us that no detainees have at any time passed through Diego Garcia or its territorial waters or have disembarked there and that the allegations to that effect are totally without foundation. The Government is satisfied that their assurances are correct."
But in February 2008, Foreign Secretary David Miliband was forced to admit that on two separate occasions "a plane with a single detainee on board refuelled at the US facility in Diego Garcia". Reprieve has identified one of these detainees as Mr Madni.
Last night a spokesperson for the Foreign Office said: "We do not render people in breach of our legal obligations and unreservedly condemn any practice of "extraordinary rendition" to torture.
"The Government's clear policy is not to participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment for any purpose. We did not give our permission for the two US rendition flights through Diego Garcia in 2002 and have very little information on the two individuals involved."