Ministers in U-turn over torture documents for Guantanamo Briton

Government agrees to surrender papers that could hold key to MI5 involvement

Ministers have agreed to the release of secret documents that could prove MI5 agents were present during the torture of a British resident held by the US government for eight years.

Shaker Aamer, the last detainee at Guantanamo Bay to be recognised by the UK Government, claims he was tortured during his detention in Afghanistan. He also alleges that Britain colluded in that torture by sending agents to interview him. Lawyers for Mr Aamer went to the High Court to force the release of documents which they believe will help prove his case against the UK Government.

In an important development last week the Government agreed to surrender the documents to Mr Aamer's lawyers in the US. Mr Aamer, a Saudi Arabian national and resident of Battersea, south London, who has indefinite leave to stay in the UK, said he only made confessions under duress. The US claim he is a terror suspect but has not charged him with any offence.

A fortnight ago, lawyers won a ruling in the High Court that documents the Government had sent to the US authorities should be made public.

The Government, which previously released information on the understanding it would not be shown to Mr Aamer's lawyers, had said it intended to challenge the High Court ruling by seeking to use a "public interest immunity" argument to block the release. It asserted full disclosure could jeopardise the workings of the security services and intelligence sharing with the US.

But at the beginning of proceedings on Thursday, Lord Justice Sullivan, sitting with Mr Justice Lloyd Jones, announced that "overnight" the Government had agreed that Mr Aamer's US lawyers could have access to the files. Mr Aamer's barrister, Richard Hermer QC, welcomed the development but told the court the U-turn showed the Government had not "done all it could" to secure Mr Aamer's release. He said: "The assertion that they had done everything they possibly could is incorrect. By sending documents with an express proviso they were not shown to the claimant does not match their claim."

James Eadie QC, acting for the Government, challenged that contention, saying that ministers were co- operating with the US legal process.

Mr Aamer's lawyer representing him in the US, Clive Stafford Smith, said the result was "a step forward" but was wary of the concession being used as a delaying tactic.

Outside the High Court on Thursday, Gareth Peirce, of Birnberg Peirce, the firm representing Mr Aamer in the UK, said: "He is the only British detainee left there. We are extremely worried why he is the only one not brought home."

She added that Mr Aamer's case was important in forcing the Government to make public security information.

The Foreign Office has made two requests to the US, including one recent request from Foreign Secretary David Miliband, asking for Mr Aamer's release.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'