Daily archives: July 27, 2009

Torture and Denial

The cumulative evidence of UK complicity in torture is now so overwhelming as to be undeniable. Yet nobody is held to account, and in a curious British way, while it is not exactly denied it is not exactly admitted either. Until New Labour are gone, plainly there will be no real moves to get to the bottom of UK complicity. Simply to release the minute, classified Top Secret, of my meeting on 7 or 8 March 2003 in the FCO with Sir Michael Wood (Legal Adviser), Linda Duffield (Director Wider Europe) and Matthew Kydd, (Head, Permanent Under Secretary’s Department) would reveal a great deal of the policy.

There is more evidence in today’s Guardian.


While Alam Ghafoor was being held tortured in the UAE, the British consul’s half-hearted attempts to fulfil his duty of visiting him in detention were addressed not to the UAE authorities, but to third party. The third party is blanked out from the released documents, along with much else, but the Guardian surmises it is likely to be an MI5 officer.

I am not so sure. It could be, but the style of the minute is more that used in referring to someone representing a different government. MI5 would almost certainly be regularly calling into the Embassy anyway, if operating in liaison with the UAE authorities (MI5 do not do undercover abroad). It seems to me most likely that, even if Ghafoor was first “Fingered” by MI5, the UAE authorities were taking their instructions from the CIA and that is who was being phoned and reported – though these were very strange conversations to have by telephone anyway.

It is a matter of tone and how the FCO write. The minute just reads fine if the CIA were the interlocutor, and feels a bit strange if MI5 were the interlocutor.

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