Robert Verkaik: How fitting – another attempt to make this issue disappear

Related Topics

Jack Straw is used to fending off awkward questions about Britain's role in the alleged rendition and torture of terror suspects.

The Justice Secretary and his fellow ministers have made countless denials over allegations that British forces, military bases and airports have been used in the kidnap and transfer of foreign nationals to torture states.

The constant refrain from Mr Straw is that until anyone can prove otherwise, British territory and personnel have never been used in this way. Unfortunately, the inconvenience of the evidence has forced the Government into a number of embarrassing admissions.

We now know that the UK overseas territory of Diego Garcia was twice used by the US in the rendition of terror suspects. It has also been confirmed that two Iraqis captured by British forces in Iraq were handed over to the Americans and flown to a detention camp in Afghanistan. And in the most famous case, the UK courts have found that MI5 "facilitated" in the interrogation of British resident Binyam Mohamed when he was being unlawfully held by the Americans in Pakistan.

It was Jack Straw who was Foreign Secretary at the height of the war on terror. His harshest critics would say he is the Labour politician who has most to lose should the full story of Britain's alleged role in the US-led programme of extraordinary rendition emerge. The Justice Secretary's complete rejection of the All Party Parliamentary Group's proposals to criminalise UK involvement in extraordinary rendition is merely the latest attempt to deflect the criticism and obscure the facts.

But this issue simply won't go away. As we draw closer to a general election more and more voices are joining the calls for an independent public inquiry into Britain's role in the early days of the US-led war on terror.

Mr Straw and his fellow ministers must hope they have done enough to kick this inconvenient subject into the long grass to be considered by the next administration. But Scotland Yard's criminal investigation into MI5 and MI6 complicity in torture will not respect the political rules that govern the announcements permissible during a general election campaign. If the Metropolitan Police believe there is case to answer they will say so, irrespective of the potential for political embarrassment to Labour.

State of denial: The UK's official line on rendition

March 2007 Tony Blair tells the intelligence and security committee that the US had given "firm assurances" that Diego Garcia had not been used to hold or transport detainees.

February 2008 Foreign Secretary David Miliband admits that Diego Garcia was in fact used for the refuelling of two rendition flights in 2002.

December 2005 Former Foreign Office minister Kim Howells states in a Parliamentary answer: "We are unaware of any individuals originally detained by UK authorities and subsequently rendited by the USA."

February 2009 Former Defence Secretary John Hutton confirms that two individuals captured by UK forces in Iraq were subsequently moved to Afghanistan by the US.

July 2007 MI5 tells the intelligence committee that it was not complicit "in any cases where it was advocated and implied that someone would be subject to mistreatment".

July 2007 The intelligence and security committee reports that it has found "no evidence that the UK agencies were complicit in any extraordinary rendition operations".

February 2010 The Court of Appeal finds some MI5 officials have not been "frank" about their involvement in the "mistreatment" of Binyam Mohamed and that there is reason to distrust Government assurances to the contrary.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The victory of the NO campaign was confirmed at 6.08am on Friday morning  

Scottish referendum: Partisan fallout, Gordon Brown's comeback and Elizabeth, the Queen of unity

Jane Merrick
The central concept of Death Row Dinners is an interesting way  to make us think more about our food  

Out there: A death row diner, the other musicians taking a leaf out of U2's (i)book and rolling up my CV for a smoking hot job opportunity

Simmy Richman
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam