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

Share
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

Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

Recruitment Genius: Delegate Telesales Executive - OTE £21,000 uncapped

£16000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: High quality, dedicated Delegat...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - School Playground Designer

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Traffic Planner

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As the successful candidate you...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Queen at Derby day during the Epsom Derby Festival, 2013  

As an MP, I shouldn't have to swear allegiance to the Queen – I serve my constituents, not her

Richard Burgon
Fifa president Sepp Blatter  

Fifa presidential election: If I had a vote, I would back Sepp Blatter

Sean O'Grady
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor