Calls for inquiry over secret CIA flights

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Ministers are facing fresh pressure for an independent inquiry into claims that Britain has been involved in secret CIA torture flights.

Tony Baldry, the chairman of the Commons International Development Committee, called on the Foreign Office to demand answers from the US about claims that British airports had been used as stop-off points for flights transporting terror suspects to countries across the world.

He told a parliamentary debate that so-called extraordinary rendition was "well documented... There is compelling testimony from people who claim to have been shipped abroad by the US and tortured. The UK government shows no inclination to investigate reports of US aircraft using UK airports or airspace for rendition purposes."

He said an independent inquiry should held to find out what steps had been taken to prevent future use of British airports and airspace for the practice.

Ian Pearson, a Foreign Office minister, insisted there was no evidence that British airports had been used for rendition flights since 1997. He said: "We have addressed this issue with the US government. We have made clear to them that we expect them to seek permission to render detainees via British airspace."