A public inquiry into Britain’s complicity in torture must be ordered by Prime Minister Theresa May, a cross-party group of ex-soldiers, including Andrew Mitchell, Dan Jarvis and Crispin Blunt, has demanded.
In a letter to May, the group said that “only through an independent judge-led inquiry will we learn the lessons of the past and decisively demonstrate our commitment to the values for which we served.”
Their plea comes two months after a parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report concluded that Britain had tolerated “inexcusable” treatment of suspects by the US during the so-called war on terror.
The letter, seen by the Times, argues that “UK involvement in abuses tarnishes our international reputation and severely hampers our operational strength worldwide, damaging our international partnerships and our national security.
“The report of the ISC has uncovered disturbing new evidence of UK involvement in the US government’s programme of torture and rendition.
“As evidence has mounted over almost two decades, we remain deeply concerned at the extent to which UK decisionmakers have risked involvement in serious abuses – all while UK personnel were risking their lives to uphold the values those abuses transgressed.”
Upon taking office in 2010, former Prime Minister David Cameron announced a judge-led inquiry into the matter, though the move was shelved two years later.
In June after the ISC’s report, May publicly apologised for the UK’s involvement in a 2004 rendition program in which British secret services assisted in the kidnap of a prominent opponent of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Abdel Hakim Belhaj was flown to Tripoli by the CIA along with his pregnant wife, Fatima Boudchar, following a tip-off from MI6. Both were imprisoned in a Gaddafi jail, during which time Boudchar claims she was tortured, leading to the premature birth of her son.
The report lead to All-Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition, chaired by veteran Tory Ken Clarke, to call for a judge-led inquiry also. Despite growing calls from the government’s own benches for the inquiry, a No 10. Spokesperson said that the ISC report was being considered and it would respond “in due course.”