UK

CIA report: MPs and peers seek material on any UK 'torture' role

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Media captionSir Malcolm Rifkind: "If British intelligence officials were present when people were being tortured then they were complicit in that torture"

A parliamentary committee is to request the US hands over any material documenting the UK's role in the CIA's post-9/11 interrogation programme.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind said the intelligence committee he chairs would act "without fear or favour", although some MPs want a judge-led inquiry.

It follows a US Senate report which found "brutal" treatment of suspects.

Downing Street has said some material was removed from the report at the UK's request for national security reasons.

But it said no redactions related to British involvement in the mistreatment of prisoners.

'Brutal interrogations'

Sir Malcolm was speaking as Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee - which he chairs - is conducting an inquiry into the treatment of detainees by British intelligence agencies in the decade following 9/11.

He told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show it would ask the US government if it could see the redacted material.

If British intelligence officials were present when people were being tortured then they were "complicit in that torture", he added.

"That would be quite against all the standards of this country, it would be something that ought to be brought into the public domain," Sir Malcolm added.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Many US detainees after 9/11 were held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba

Denying accusations that the committee would water down its conclusions, Sir Malcolm said the committee would act "without fear or favour" and would seek answers from senior minister and former ministers, if necessary.

He added: "If people deserve to be embarrassed, it's our job to embarrass them."

BBC political correspondent Robin Brant said it was "almost certain" that ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair would be called by the committee. Former Labour foreign secretaries Jack Straw and David Miliband may also be required to give evidence, he added.

However, Labour's shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper told the Marr Show she had concerns that the intelligence committee did not have the capacity or scope to be able to get to the truth.

And Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on extraordinary rendition, called for the government to "reconstitute a judge-led inquiry".

He said it should have "wide-ranging powers" and a "substantial investigative capability" to look into the UK's role in the CIA's interrogation programme.

Clare Algar, from the charity Reprieve, told the BBC that Prime Minister David Cameron had previously said only a judge-led inquiry could get to the bottom of the UK's involvement, adding: "I think that is still the case."

'Legal hurdles'

A 525-page summary of the report, compiled by Democrats on the committee, was published earlier this week - although the full version remains classified.

It revealed that the CIA carried out "brutal" interrogations of terrorism suspects in the years after the 9/11 attacks. Among the abuses, the committee found:

  • Detainees were subjected to repeated waterboarding, slapping, stress positions and sleep deprivation
  • One suspect was kept confined in a coffin-sized box for hours on end
  • Others were threatened with severe harm - psychologically and physically

However, the summary contains no reference to UK agencies.

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Media captionShadow home secretary Yvette Cooper: "We've got to have the truth"

When the report was published, Downing Street said any requests for redactions from the UK had been made by British intelligence agencies to the CIA.

It said the requests had been made for reasons of national security on intelligence operations - and later added that Number 10 itself had not made any requests for redactions.

A Freedom of Information request by the charity Reprieve earlier this year showed the UK government had met members of the Senate Committee on Intelligence 24 times since 2009, although there are no details about what was discussed.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Telegraph reported that Defence Secretary Michael Fallon had called for former Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to reveal what they knew about the CIA's torture and rendition programme when they were in office.

"It's for ministers in that [former Labour] government to account for their actions," he said.

Mr Straw told the BBC that he would "be delighted to give evidence today", adding that "as soon as the legal hurdles are out of the way, I fully expect to do so".

The Metropolitan police began investigating claims that UK secret services helped in the rendition of two men to Libya in 2012, and a file was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service earlier this year.

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