THE BLOG

What Are Our Intelligence Services Doing in Our Name?

11/02/2013 14:47 GMT | Updated 12/04/2013 10:12 BST

It is alleged that, in 2004, our intelligence services kidnapped a family in Hong Kong and forced them on to a plane and flew them into the hands the violent and oppressive Gaddafi regime in Libya to be tortured for years. It appears Sami al-Saadi and his four children were enemies of Gaddafi rather than enemies of the UK. In any case they are to receive £2.2M from the Government.

Was their crime to want Libya to be a free and democratic? If so, it is ironic that the UK later decided that it too, wanted Libya to be free from Gaddafi.

This is not the only case of its type - Abdul Hakim Belhaj claims that he and his pregnant wife were detained in Malaysia in 2004 - MI6 then informed Gaddafi that they had been detained - they too were then sent to Libya and he was held and tortured for a number of years by the Gaddafi regime.

Let's assume that the allegations are true then either this was done in our name - without a mandate to kidnap families and deliver them to torture and possible execution - or our own intelligence services were acting on behalf of themselves or for a foreign government - presumably the latter.

We might assume that it was done to ingratiate the UK in the eyes of the dictator Gaddafi so that he would sell us oil or perhaps provide intelligence about the actual enemies of the UK.

Some might say that we should do what we have to do to protect ourselves (or to get cheaper petrol) but what else would we do to achieve those aims? Would we murder a few people for the Mafia or stone women for the Taliban - or deliver them for stoning or murder if the Mafia or Taliban agreed helped us with intelligence matters?

I come from a service family and was in the RAF before joining the Police - I am a supporter of our armed forces and our Police and our intelligence services but surely we should not be delivering men women and children to brutal dictators for years of torture because if we would do that - what wouldn't we do?

If we are attacked then we should defend ourselves - even with our much depleted armed services - but this is not defending ourselves.

Do we expect the world to be impressed when we then claim to be bombing people in foreign countries because we believe in democracy and freedom? Since we obviously don't mind sending women and children to suffer years of torture and possible death at the hands of brutal dictators the world might find that claim hard to believe.

Are we going to act surprised when whole new bunch of people become angered by what we have apparently done to these men women and children and decide they also want to try to kill us? If it was meant to make us safer then it may have the opposite effect - it might actually make us less safe and make our soldiers on the front line less safe.

These matters were probably never expected to come to light - those kidnapped were meant to disappear and never heard about again - if so it would be shocking, callous and cynical.

Should we worry that the Government wants to hold some civil court cases in secret under a new Justice and Security Bill? These are the cases that include people suing the Government for kidnapping and rendition.

Under the proposed law neither those taking action or their solicitors would hear the evidence from the intelligence services before judgment were made. They could not challenge the evidence against them - because they would not hear it.

I think we should indeed worry about that we because only open justice can be trusted and it appears some people may have things they want to hide. If these particular allegations are not true then there might well be other matters some do not want us to know about at some time in the future.

Tory MP Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the all-party group on rendition, said the Justice and Security Bill would make it more difficult to establish the truth about Britain's complicity in kidnap and torture and make us all less safe.

I think he is right about that.

Kidnapping men women and children and sending them off to be tortured will not make us safer either and it is simply wrong.