Clegg: senior Labour ex-ministers should give evidence to UK torture inquiry

Nick Clegg Q&A 12Last week came the revelations from the US Senate Intelligence Committee about the extent of the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques”.

It immediately promoted questions about what the then Labour Government knew about what was happening on the watch of its closest ally. Nick Clegg has called for senior ex-ministers to give evidence to Parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC) on what they knew about torture conducted by UK or US intelligence agencies in Iraq or Afghanistan, as The Guardian reports:

The deputy prime minister said it was clear that the intelligence agencies should have disregarded any evidence from the Americans if it was obtained by torture. The ISC has said it will investigate allegations of British complicity once a police investigation has been completed. Clegg said a preliminary report by a panel led by Sir Peter Gibson looking into allegations of torture found no evidence of UK complicity in torture but raised many disturbing questions. He praised the chairman of the ISC, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, and added: “We should use the additional muscle given to the ISC to fully explore these murky events in the past. If people are found to have broken the law, the full weight of the law should come down on them without fear or favour, however operationally grand they are.” He noted there had been two cases of rendition through the British territory of Diego Garcia in 2002, which were confirmed to parliament in 2008.

He said: “Torture is wrong in any circumstances, there are no ifs and buts. You cannot as a free democratic society lower yourself to the barbaric standards of those who want to destroy our way of life. You cannot absolve yourself by knowingly using information that you know has been derived from treatment that is illegal or strictly contrary to our values.”

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10 Comments

  • I agree they should be called but am uneasy about the executive calling for it. The whole point of these committees is that they are independent. I don’t believe Rifkind will allow the last Labour Government to escape investigation if the evidence leads this way.

  • Senior ex-ministers including Blair and Straw gave evidence to Chilcot.

    Maybe the DPM should I insist on the Chilcot Report being published before giving them another chance to obfuscate.

    A child born on the day the Chilcot will now be getting free school meals. At this rate that child will be paying tuition fees at university before the report is published.

  • Apologies that last comment of mine got scrambled, either by the technology or by my own inability to type.
    It should have said —

    Senior ex-ministers including Blair and Straw gave evidence to Chilcot.

    Maybe the DPM should insist on the Chilcot Report being published before giving them another chance to obfuscate.

    A child born on the day the Chilcot was set up will now be getting free school meals.
    At this rate that child will be paying tuition fees at university before the report is published.

  • Why doesn’t the Deputy Prime Minister call for the release of documents on any links between the security services and the CIA concerning torture, rather than ask for personal statements from former ministers who no longer have access to state records?

  • “The deputy prime minister said it was clear that the intelligence agencies should have disregarded any evidence from the Americans if it was obtained by torture”

    Really? On all occasions? Regardless of the evidence? Or what purpose it could effect? And, that presupposes full knowledge of American interrogation techniques on every piece of evidence. Is it too much to ask that the leader of “the party of civil liberties” should endeavour to seek justice and truth rather than spin an ethically absolute line about a complex moral issue simply to promote his conspiracy theories about the Labour Party?

  • @JohnTilley

    “Maybe the DPM should insist on the Chilcot Report being published before giving them another chance to obfuscate.”

    I’m sure we all want to see the report today but I feel Nick is right in not insisting it comes out, seems reasonable that an independent report on the matter (which will look at politicians trying to push the Civil Service to do things quicker for political ends) should be left to do what it needs. As soon as politicians start to get involved people with haverightful justification in worrying it is being tampered with.

    “A child born on the day the Chilcot was set up will now be getting free school meals.
    At this rate that child will be paying tuition fees at university before the report is published.”

    I feel even older now, John – thanks!

    People who will vote for the first time next year would have been six when the war itself started and around five at the time of 9/11…what seems such massive, defining issues to us are old history for them, quite a thought.

  • ATF 16th Dec ’14 – 11:23am

    I see what you mean about independence – but the Chilcot Report was written over three years ago and according to a recent FOI request it costs the tax payer £1 million per year to keep the team going. If we were serious about cutting the deficit we could have saved at least £3 million by demanding publication once the report was completed.

    Chilcot and the others who listened to the evidence are not getting any younger. One hopes that this report will be published whilst they are all still with us and are still able to answer questions on why they came to the conclusions that they did.

    We have to remember that one of the purposes of the Inquiry was to make sure that we learned the lessons of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
    This week we learned that hundreds of UK troops are being sent to Iraq despite promises from Cameron and Clegg only a matter of weeks ago that there would be “no boots on the ground”.

    I assume that UK troops are not going to be wearing flip- flops in Iraq in 2015.

    Flip-flops is however a good description of Coalition policy on young men from this country going to their deaths in Iraq.

  • I smell a cover up coming else half the labour cabinet Who Knew what was going on would be in prison but then they will spill beans on conservative cover ups so it will be a stich up and the disgraceful truth will never come out

  • @JohnTilley

    I’m very much hoping it will be in the next five months as it would be a superb reminder of how the benevolent facade the Labour party has tried to build in the last four years is nothing but a complete sham.

    We’ve had to govern with the Tories whilst having 8% of seats, with over 50% Labour wracked up huge amounts of spending on Wars whilst u-turning on two tuition fees pledges…even on a bad day, we don’t even come close to what Labour did…

  • ATF

    I agree. It would also provide some context to the deficit reduction debate. The costs of wars under both Labour and Coalition Governments of the last fifteen years is constantly hidden or disguised. The billions that have gone on wars are seldom talked about. The pie chart that appears on tax statements minimises such expenditure; it reallocates costs of for example those injured and left permanently disabled in wars: those costs go on to the “welfare” budget. So people who are classed “our heroic boys” in one tabloid headline are derided as “benefit scroungers” in the next tabloid headline.

    The costs of recent wars and Trident replacement combined produce a figure remarkably similar to the size of the deficit. Yet Conservatives bang on about freezing “in work benefits”. Andrew Neil in this week’s The Sunday Politics illustrated this well for his interview with the dreadful IDS.

    How can any party that is serious about discipline in government expenditure even start to consider replacement of Trident? It is a complete and utter waste of money.

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