Ken Clarke has attacked Theresa May’s government for failing to meet its own deadline to announce whether it will launch a judge-led inquiry into the UK’s “shocking” involvement in torture.
Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee concluded in July the UK tolerated “inexcusable” treatment of detainees by the US in the years after the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001.
Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan told the Commons at the time the government would give “careful consideration to whether a judge-led inquiry is necessary”.
He told MPs he would update them by August 27 as to whether this would go ahead or not.
Clarke, the veteran Tory MP who serves as chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition, today criticised the failure to live up to that promise.
“I can only hope this means they are working to finalise details of the independent judge-led inquiry we need,” he said.
“It is now over two months since the Intelligence and Security Committee’s reports were published, over four years since the committee was first handed the inquiry, eight years since the government gave a promise in Parliament for a full judge-led inquiry and over 13 years since press reports of UK involvement in rendition and torture first emerged.
“The details of UK involvement in torture and rendition that we know about already are shocking – such as the UK’s role in the rendition of Mr Belhaj and his pregnant wife Ms Boudchar to Gadaffi’s interrogators.”
He added: “Yet we still do not fully know what went wrong and why, nor who was responsible. The only question now is - what is the government waiting for?”
The report published in July by MPs said it was inexcusable that British intelligence and security agencies supplied questions for the interrogation of prisoners who they knew or suspected were being subjected to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment (CIDT) and paid for the rendition of others to states where they were at risk of such abuse.
But the three-year investigation found no “smoking gun” proving that the agencies turned a blind eye to torture, and no evidence that UK officials themselves mistreated detainees.
Responding to the report at the time, May said the security and intelligence agencies now “regret” not recognising at an earlier stage the extent to which allies had adopted “unacceptable practices” towards detainees.
The Foreign Office has been contacted for comment.