The political storm over allegations of MI5 complicity in torture escalated tonight after Alan Johnson, the home secretary, accused the media of publishing “groundless accusations” and commentators of spreading “ludicrous lies” about the Security Service.
As defence lawyers prepared to challenge the government’s success in suppressing severe criticism of MI5 officers made by one of Britain’s most senior judges, the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, pointed the finger at the “very top of government” saying senior ministers had probably known about claims of Britain’s involvement in torture but failed to take action to stop it.
Here’s Nick’s statement in full:
David Miliband and Alan Johnson’s letter on torture raises far more questions than it answers.
“We must know who in Britain knew the US had changed the rules on torture, when they knew and what action they took. We can only conclude that the security services either kept the information to themselves, or they informed ministers who failed to act immediately. Both of these would suggest at best a cover-up and at worst collusion in torture.
“Knowledge of Britain’s potential complicity in torture looks likely to have gone to the very top of Government. Miliband and Johnson may be trying to distance themselves, but there are serious questions to answer for those who were in charge at the time America changed the rules.”