Now that information is starting to come out about the hundreds of CIA rendition flights in UK airspace, at least scores refuelling at UK airports, the government’s refusal to give details to MPs of CIA flights landing at military airports is an appalling denial of democracy.
The government claims that this information would be “too expensive” to collect.
Earlier in my career, I was the number 2 in the FCO’s Aviation and Maritime Department. I can tell you for certain that, even by Jack Straw’s standards, the “too expensive” claim is an appalling lie.
When these planes touch down in the UK, they no longer have flag immunity. Which means that UK law applies rather than the law of the country in which the plane is registered. So when someone is being held against their will without legal authority- usually shackled to the floor – and the plane is on the ground at Prestwick, RAF Northolt or elsewhere, a serious crime is being committed.
I can tell you for certain that if these planes were carrying heroin, rather than beaten and degraded human beings, it would be technically very simple to track them, given we know the physical planes used. It would also be no problem at all to board them at the airport.
If parliament and the courts allow Straw and Blair to get away with this foul abuse, then the rule of law is finished and we no longer live in a democracy.
I shall be testifying before the European Parliament’s Committee on Extraordinary Rendition in Brussels on 23 March.