ADAM Ingram – Armed Forces Minister during the British occupation of southern Iraq in 2003 – has admitted wrongly informing MPs that Baha Mousa was not hooded during interrogation.
Baha Mousa was beaten to death in the custody of British troops on September 15, 2003, with 93 injuries counted on his battered corpse.
The 26-year-old Basra hotel receptionist was among a group of Iraqis held by British troops in a raid on the hotel.
The inquiry into his death, was told that a paper marked ‘Secret UK Eyes Only’ was copied to the armed forces minister and showed that Mousa had been in custody for 36 hours and had ‘spent 23 hours and 40 minutes of this hooded, albeit not continually’.
Hooding was supposed to have been banned by the Heath government in 1972.
In replies to Labour MPs Kevin McNamara and Jean Corston in June 2004, Ingram said he was not aware of any incidents in which hooding was used during the interrogation of prisoners.
But the inquiry heard that Ingram had seen a memo, dated September 18, 2003, referring to ‘tactical questioning’ of prisoners by two intelligence corps staff sergeants.
‘It would appear the hooding of the suspects took place on the advice of one of the staff sergeants,’ the memo said.
Being questioned at the inquiry on Wednesday, Ingram blamed his officials and his own memory for his misleading replies.
Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) commented: ‘Despite the clearest of contemporaneous evidence that Baha Mousa and others had spent up to 24 hours hooded (claims which are likely to have been under-played), Mr Ingram continued to assert publicly that he was unaware of the use of hooding in Iraq.’
Lawyer Phil Shiner of PIL commented: ‘Over six years after Baha Mousa died, his family at last have the satisfaction of knowing that ministers were not accurate in how they reported his death and the use of torture techniques to the British public.
‘Too many “inaccuracies” smack of a cover-up. Disinformation may have cost lives.’