MPs accuse Straw over misleading them over ‘rendition’

The lies are catching up with him…

From The Observer

The Foreign Secretary has been formally challenged by a parliamentary committee to explain why he twice gave them misleading answers during inquiries over the secret transport of terrorism suspects around Europe.

The Labour chair of the powerful Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has written privately to Jack Straw, amid deep irritation from members over his testimony on extraordinary rendition – the spiriting away of foreign citizens without the normal extradition process, which critics argue may lead to torture.

Last October, Straw denied to the committee that Britain had received any requests for rendition. In fact, as he conceded in a parliamentary statement less than six weeks later, it had received three in 1998 and approved one. Appearing before the committee in December, Straw ridiculed claims of British involvement in the interrogation of Pakistani terror suspects arrested in Greece as ‘nonsense’, only to confirm three weeks later that British intelligence officers were present, although abuse is denied.

The row comes ahead of an interim report from the Council of Europe into claims that the US has ‘rendered’ suspects in Europe.

Paul Keetch, a Liberal Democrat member of the committee, said it was ‘unacceptable’ that Straw had had to correct himself twice, while Labour member Eric Illsley said he was ‘cheesed off’ with the Foreign Secretary describing allegations as nonsense, only to find out from newspapers that they were true.

Straw also admitted that while foreign flights to military airbases normally require clearance from the Ministry of Defence, American planes have a ‘block agreement’ to come and go freely. This might help explain a leaked memo from Straw’s office, disclosed last week in New Statesman magazine, advising Downing Street to ‘avoid getting drawn on detail’.