Former minister: I misled MPs over hooding of prisoners in Iraq

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Indy Politics

A former Labour defence minister was forced to admit yesterday that he misled MPs when he denied that British soldiers had hooded Iraqi detainees during interrogations.

Adam Ingram, the ex-armed forces minister, denied in a Parliamentary answer that UK forces hooded detainees as an interrogation technique despite seeing a document suggesting they did, a public inquiry in London heard.

The inquiry is investigating the beating to death by British soldiers of Baha Mousa, 26, a hotel receptionist, in Basra, southern Iraq, in September 2003. During his interrogation by British soldiers, Mr Mousa and other Iraqi civilians held with him were unlawfully hooded.

Now it has emerged that Mr Ingram was copied in on a memo revealing that the Iraqi was hooded for a total of nearly 24 hours during 36 hours spent in UK military custody before he died.

Nine months after the Iraqi's death, Mr Ingram assured the then-Labour MP Jean Corston, the chair of the Parliamentary joint committee on human rights, that hooding was only used while detainees were being transported for security reasons.

In a letter dated 25 June 2004, he wrote: "The UK believes that this is acceptable under Geneva Conventions but I should make absolutely clear that hooding was only used during the transit of prisoners. It was not used as an interrogation technique."

Rabinder Singh QC, representing Mr Mousa's family and the other detainees, suggested to him: "It's just not accurate, is it?" to which Mr Ingram replied: "That's correct." Mr Ingram also assured Kevin McNamara, a Labour MP, that the British military did not employ hooding to question suspects. He said in a Parliamentary answer dated 28 June 2004: "We are not aware of any incidents in which United Kingdom interrogators are alleged to have used hooding as an interrogation technique."

This appeared to contradict an MoD briefing document about Mr Mousa's death which Mr Ingram saw, the inquiry heard. The memo, dated 18 September 2003, stated: "In this instance the tactical questioning (TQ) of the suspects was conducted by two intelligence corps staff sergeants, both fully trained in TQ. It would appear the hooding of the suspects took place on the advice of one of the staff sergeants."

Mr Ingram said: "In hindsight it would have been better if the department had reminded me of all the documentation. It would not have been within my power to remember everything I had been informed."