Pressure is growing for a judicial inquiry to examine accusations that British ministers turned a blind eye to the CIA’s use of torture. A committee of parliamentarians is examining whether the UK was complicit in the routine mental and physical abuse of captives exposed in a damning American report.
But human rights groups said that inquiry did not go far enough and called for a senior judge to take over to give fresh urgency to the investigation – particularly as references to Britain were redacted from the Senate intelligence committee’s (ISC) findings.
Tensions over the issue have been heightened by the continuing hold-up in the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry report into the Iraq war. Many MPs believe it could now be delayed until after the general election. Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, which meets today, is set to scrutinise the American report.
It is also expected to question MI5, MI6 and GCHQ chiefs – but not Tony Blair or Jack Straw who were Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary respectively at the time of the American actions – on whether they knew of the US operations. This will not take place until after the election.
The ISC had already begun investigating claims that British agents were involved in rendition of suspects, but is not due to release conclusions in the near future.
Amid signs of an impasse on the issue, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, was challenged by human rights groups to order an independent investigation into the claims.
Kate Allen, Amnesty International’s UK director, said this country was “still way behind in terms of learning the truth about Britain’s role in the ‘war on terror’”.
She said: “While the ugly truth about US ‘war on terror’ torture is gradually emerging, we still don’t know how far Britain was dragged into the mire."
David Davis, the former shadow Home Secretary, claimed yesterday: “There is now little doubt that the Government operated a secret policy of complicity in torture in the years after 9/11.”Reuse content