Legal charity Reprieve and rights group Amnesty, yesterday hit back at attacks by MI5 and the government on the Appeal Court judgement that revealed UK collusion in the torture of Binyam Mohamed.
Reprieve executive director Clare Algar stressed to the Today programme that MI5 and the Foreign Office ‘knew’ that Mohamed was subjected to degrading treatment, ‘was disappeared’ and MI5 ‘sent questions to be asked wherever he was being held’.
A Reprieve spokeswoman told News Line: ‘It is offensive to suggest that by fighting torture through the British legal system, Reprieve and others are giving succour to our enemies.
‘It is our government’s hypocritical involvement in torture that endangers the British people, and the longer this shameful cover-up continues, the greater a recruiting sergeant it will be.’
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said: ‘The point here is not what the US may or may not have done over changing their “rules of engagement” in combating terrorism, but the fact that there is an absolute prohibition against torture.
This rule has never changed.
‘Quite simply, all UK officials should have known that they could not be party to any acts of torture or cruel treatment.
‘Indeed, they had a duty to try to prevent or at least report these acts if they become aware of them.
‘The Binyam Mohamed case has thrown a spotlight on what appears to have been a clear failure to prevent torture when it was known to be happening.
‘What Messrs Miliband, Johnson and Evans are saying doesn’t add anything new and now more then ever we need an independent and wide-ranging inquiry into all aspects of the UK’s alleged involvement in human rights abuses like rendition, secret detention and torture.’
Foreign secretary David Miliband MP and Home secretary Alan Johnson MP wrote: ‘The allegation that our security and intelligence agencies have licence to collude in torture is disgraceful, untrue and one that we vigorously deny.’
They added: ‘To suggest that the government fought this case to avoid embarrassment or save face is just plain wrong. . .The appeal was about protecting our intelligence-sharing relationships, which depend on confidentiality. . .The appeal was about protecting our intelligence-sharing relationships, which depend on confidentiality.’
‘The Court of Appeal has upheld the principle that if a country shares its intelligence, they must agree before that intelligence is released. Nor did we influence the court improperly.’
They denied the judges were bullied.
MI5 director general, Jonathan Evans, went public to say claims by the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, that there was a ‘culture of suppression’ within the security service were ‘the precise opposite of the truth’.