By Richard Norton-Taylor in The Guardian
A chief constable has begun inquiries into allegations that CIA “torture flights” have landed in Britain, the human rights group, Liberty, said yesterday. It said Michael Todd, chief constable of Greater Manchester police, had agreed to start investigations on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo). Mr Todd is the member of Acpo’s terrorism committee responsible for aviation.
After meeting with Mr Todd, the director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, said: “We are very pleased that the police are taking these concerns seriously. If suspects are being taken through the UK to face torture, there have been serious breaches of international and domestic law. We intend to help the police and call on individuals with any information to come forward.” Acpo described the meeting as “useful” and said further talks were planned in January.
A Greater Manchester police spokesman said it had been a “useful exploratory discussion”.
Liberty acted after the Guardian reported that CIA or CIA-chartered jets had flown into the UK approximately 210 times since 2001. It wrote to the chief constables of Bedfordshire, Dorset, Essex, Hampshire, the Metropolitan police, the Ministry of Defence police, Suffolk, Sussex, Thames Valley and West Midlands last month asking them to seek assurances from the US that it is not using British airports to transport – or “render” – terrorist suspects to secret camps or countries known to have tortured prisoners.
Liberty said the police had asked for further evidence, and has asked anyone with information about CIA flights using British airspace or airports to contact the organisation, even anonymously.