MPs 'misled over army torture'

Claims that a senior army general and a defence minister misled MPs and peers over British troops' use of banned interrogation techniques will be examined by a public inquiry into the mistreatment of prisoners, the Defence Secretary, Des Browne, said.

He spoke out in response to a complaint by the Joint Committee on Human Rights that assurances given to it by the armed forces minister Adam Ingram in 2004 and Lt-Gen Robin Brims, Commander Field Army in 2006, that hooding and other practices were not used, appeared to be false.

The use of "conditioning" techniques, banned in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, was exposed during inquiries into the death of an Iraqi hotel receptionist, Baha Mousa, who was beaten to death while in the custody of UK forces in 2003. Seven soldiers were charged over the death but six were acquitted, with the other, Cpl Donald Payne, pleading guilty to inhumane treatment at court martial.

This year, the Ministry of Defence agreed to pay almost £3m to Mr Mousa's family and nine others after admitting breaching human rights – and ordered a public inquiry.

In a report, the committee said: "We have yet to receive an explanation from the ministry for the discrepancies between the evidence given to the Joint Committee in 2004 and 2006 on the use of prohibited conditioning techniques." It demanded a "detailed explanation of the discrepancies" be produced as soon as possible after the inquiry.

Mr Browne said: "The committee has acknowledged that many of the concerns it has raised in its report may be investigated by the inquiry."