Theresa May is facing calls to honour a promise made by the Tory-led coalition government to disclose any British involvement in the abuse of US detainees.
Conservative MP and former Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, who ended an inquiry into British involvement in 2012 because of legal prejudice, has said he feels betrayed after the government allegedly failed to be open about the subject.
It comes after the Commons’ Intelligence and Security Committee alleged British intelligence agencies tolerated “inexcusable” abuse of detainees in the US during the war on terror and it was “beyond doubt” Brits were aware.
Eight years ago, David Cameron’s administration had pledged to be open about the UK’s knowledge of events.
“I personally gave the sombre undertaking that this inquiry would be resumed when the police investigations were finished,” Clarke told The Times.
“I feel somewhat betrayed by the fact that the present government, now that the police inquiries are over, has so far not seen fit to honour that commitment, for reasons that I do not understand.”
Dominic Grieve, the committee’s chairman, accused the government of hindering its report by not allowing his team to interview former intelligence officers.
“The government has denied us access to those individuals,” he said. “The committee has therefore concluded, reluctantly, that it must draw a line under the inquiry.”
Bella Sankey, the deputy director of Reprieve, said that the inquiry had only scratched the surface. “The evidence the committee heard amounted to six minutes of evidence per case of torture or rendition with UK involvement,” she said.
“The prime minister has so far shown contempt for the committee’s work and its recommendations. She must now listen to cross-party calls to deliver what the government originally promised: an independent judge-led inquiry which can explore the dark corners the ISC could not reach.”
Corey Stoughton, a director at human rights group Liberty, said the ISC’s report made for “distressing reading” and called for a judge-led inquiry into the claims.
She added: “Even with such limited access to the people and materials they needed, the intelligence and security committee has delivered two stinging reports into ‘inexcusable’ conduct.
“We still haven’t got to the bottom of the UK’s involvement in the unforgivable mistreatment of people around the world.”