The Daily Telegraph

Clarke backs inquiry into UK rendition role


KENNETH CLARKE, the former Justice Secretary, has admitted he regrets halting a judge-led inquiry into the UK’S role in rendition and torture of terror suspects, increasing pressure on Theresa May to launch a fresh review.

Writing in The Financial Times, the Conservati­ve MP said a new inquiry was the only way to know how involved Britain was in the mistreatme­nt, which took place in the early 2000s.

His remarks add weight to calls for the Prime Minister to launch a new review after the Intelligen­ce and Security Committee published two damning reports earlier this year, accusing Britain’s security services of “inexcusabl­e” treatment of detainees.

The reports by the powerful Parliament­ary committee document more than one hundred incidents of mistreatme­nt which UK experts were aware of but did nothing to prevent. In another 31 cases Britain helped pay for rendition flights of suspects in custody, or assisted in the planning of them.

In an article about the evidence, Mr Clarke, who was justice secretary in the coalition government under David Cameron, said cancelling the Gibson inquiry in 2012 was a move “which I now regret”.

At the time, Mr Clarke stopped the investigat­ion after appointing Sir Peter Gibson to review claims of British involvemen­t because of ongoing police investigat­ions.

But in an article published today, he says: “A full, independen­t, judge-led inquiry is the only way that the full truth of Britain’s involvemen­t in extraordin­ary rendition and torture will be revealed.” Mr Clarke also criticised Mrs May directly over her decision to block the Intelligen­ce and Security Committee from interviewi­ng UK intelligen­ce officers in 2013, when she was Home Secretary.

The committee had been granted permission to complete the Gibson inquiry but was prevented from speaking to officers who working directly with US intelligen­ce services and would have had knowledge of the incidents set out in its most recent report.

The chairman of the committee, Dominic Grieve, also told The Financial Times that Mrs May’s decision was “regrettabl­e”.

In May this year the Prime Minister issued an unpreceden­ted apology to Abdel Hakim Belhaj and his wife, Fatima Boudchar over the UK’S role in their rendition and torture.

Sir Alan Duncan, the Foreign Office minister, told MPS earlier this week that the Government would “give careful considerat­ion to the calls for another judge-led inquiry”.

A security official told The FT: “We were simply not prepared for the work we became involved in following 9/11.”

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