'Immunity' in alleged kidnap case queried

THE HOME SECRETARY was called on yesterday to explain why he had invoked Public Interest Immunity in the case of a man who claims British police were involved in his illegal deportation from South Africa.

Alun Michael, a Labour home affairs spokesman, asked if there was more than had been revealed so far about the case of Paul Bennett, a New Zealander, who has spent 22 months in jail in England without trial.

Mr Michael's letter to Kenneth Clarke came amid a new twist to the story - allegations that Mr Bennett's visits in Belmarsh prison, south-east London, had been bugged, and that two men had been disturbed taking papers relating to his case from his solicitor's rubbish bins.

Colin Nott, Mr Bennett's solicitor, said two suspect devices had been found during legal visits, but a Home Office spokesman said yesterday that only one had been handed in. A police examination of that device found it to be a broken magnet from a microphone or speaker, incapable of functioning as anything other than a magnet.

Wanted in London on suspicion of obtaining a helicopter by deception, Mr Bennett claims he was arrested by South African police, held incommunicado for more than three weeks and eventually escorted to London - in defiance of a South African Supreme Court order.

He also alleges that British diplomats in South Africa furnished him with a false UK passport to ease his removal.

Mr Bennett had sought disclosure of a series of communications between Scotland Yard and South African police, which he claimed would prove he had been illegally brought to the UK. But the Home Secretary signed Public Interest Immunity certificates to suppress their public release.

Last August, Mr Bennett failed in the High Court to have the charges against him thrown out because of his alleged unlawful detention and illegal extradition. The case is to go to the House of Lords.

In his letter to Mr Clarke, Mr Michael said reports about the case 'seem so extraordinary as to encourage flights of fancy that would be more appropriate to a novel of international intrigue'. In reply Mr Clarke said it was the duty of ministers to assert claims of Public Interest Immunity in certain cases and for the court to balance the interest of immunity against public interest in the administration of justice.

But he added that the High Court had thrown out Mr Bennett's case on other grounds and the Public Interest Immunity certificate 'therefore played no part in the decision'.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Geography Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Temporary Teacher of GEOGRAPHY ...

Supply Teachers needed in Salford!

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Are you a ...

Nursery Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Nursery Assistants RequiredNursery Assis...

Supply Teachers needed in Bolton!

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Are you a ...

Day In a Page

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
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments