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

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This highly successful business...

Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - Bedfordshire - £30,000 + Excellent package

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Bonus, Pension, 25days hol, PHC +: Ashdown Group: ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Engineer - Fire Security Systems - OTE £60k

£27500 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Operating in the South East pri...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Here’s why I’m so full of (coffee) beans

Jane Merrick
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn