Not since the worst days of David Blunkett as Home Secretary has a Government launched such an abusive attack on senior judges. Yesterday, Jonathan Sumption QC acting on behalf of the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, accused two judges of "irresponsibility" in "charging into" a diplomatically sensitive case and of taking a stance that was "both unnecessary and profoundly damaging to the interests of this country."
On the former we can only agree. The case is diplomatically sensitive. And so it ought to be. It concerns the disclosure of seven paragraphs of a judgement by the High Court in the case of the rendition and torture of British Guantanamo detainee, Binyam Mohammed. But in answer to the question of whether the release of the offending paragraphs is "unnecessary" and "profoundly damaging" to our national interests we can only say – self-serving rubbish.
"National interest" was ever the last refuge of a government seeking the suppression of information reflecting badly on themselves. In this case the embarrassment – shame is a better word – is clear enough. What Mr Mohammed had sought, and what we and other newspapers have supported, was the release of information regarding Britain's complicity in his torture and mistreatment during his "rendition" before being sent finally to Guantanamo Bay.
Mr Miliband would have us believe that such information – and in particular the seven paragraphs which the Divisional Court said should be published – is no longer necessary because Mr Mohammed is now free. Nonsense. They are necessary because the British public needs to know our side of the rendition and torture scandal which has so besmirched the US conduct of the so-called "War on Terror."
Mr Miliband, who has often claimed to be in favour of a more open society, also claims that any release of this information would damage our intelligence relations with the US. That is irrelevant. President Obama has already overruled the CIA to direct the release of documentation on the US side. We must do the same.