The documents I obtained under the Freedon of Information Act yesterday are irrefutable evidence that Jack Straw lied to the parliamentary inquiry into extraordinary rendition. This is what Straw said:
I set out the British Government’s position on this issue on a number of occasions, including in evidence both here and to the Intelligence and Security Committee. I wrote a pretty detailed letter to a constituent of mine back in June, setting out our position. As I said there, there are no circumstances in which British officials use torture, nor any question of the British Government seeking to justify the use of torture. Again, the British Government, including the terrorist and security agencies, has never used torture for any purpose including for information, nor would we instigate or connive with others in doing so. People have to make their own judgment whether they think I am being accurate or not.
Yet all the time he had been personally directing a secret policy of using, justifying and conniving with torture, as these documents prove. I provide here a brief transcript with notes for those having difficulty understanding Civil Service jargon. :Deletions are by government censors.
My notes are in bold.
From: Linda Duffield (Director, Wider Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
Date: 10 March 2003
To PUS (Permanent Under Secretary, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Sir Michael Jay now Lord Jay)
cc: (Sir) Michael Wood, Legal Adviser
Matthew Kidd (Position redacted – representing MI6)
SUBJECT: UZBEKISTAN; INTELLIGENCE POSSIBLY OBTAINED UNDER TORTURE
1. Michael Wood, Matthew Kidd and I had a meeting with Craig Murray (Me, British Ambassador to Tashkent) to discuss his telegram (Tashkent Telno Misc 01). (Detail of telegram deleted. In it I complained that we regularly receive material from the CIA, got from the Uzbek secret services, obtained by torture.) I said you had asked me to discuss this with Craig personally in view of the sensitive nature of the issues involved.
2. Craig said his concerns had been prompted by a presentation to the Uzbek authorities by Professor Korff (OSCE Adviser) on the UN Convention on Torture. Craig said that his understanding was that it was also an offence under the Convention to receive or to possess information obtained under torture. He asked for clarification on this. Michael Wood replied that he did not believe that possession of information was in itself an offence, but undertook to re-read the Convention and to ensure that Craig had a reply on this particular point.
3. I gave Craig a copy of your revised draft telegram (attached) and took him through this. I said that he was right to raise with you and Ministers (Jack Straw) his concerns about important legal and moral issues. We took these very seriously and gave a great deal of thought to such issues ourselves. There were difficult ethical and moral issues involved and at times difficult judgements had to be made weighing one clutch of “moral issues” against another. It was not always easy for people in post (embassies) to see and appreciate the broader picture, eg piecing together intelligence material from different sources in the global fight against terrorism. But that did not mean we took their concerns any less lightly.
4. (Whole paragraph deleted – this may have related to my querying of the accuracy of the CIA torture material).
5. After Michael Wood and Matthew Kidd had left, Craig and I had a general discussion about the human rights situation in Uzbekistan and the difficulties of pushing for a Resolution in Geneva, which we both agreed was important. (Section about US administation supporting Karimov in UN deleted)
6. In conclusion, Craig said that he was grateful for the decision to discuss these issues with me personally. At the end of the day he accepted, as a public servant, that these were decisions for Ministers to take, whether he agreed with them or not. If it ever reached the stage where he could not accept such a decision, then the right thing to do would be to request a move. But he was certainly not there yet. He had fed in his views. You and Ministers had decided how to handle this question. He accepted that and would now go back to Tashkent and “Get on with the job”.
7. I think it was right to see him. I am not sure this is the end of the issue (or correspondence), but it was a frank and amicable discussion and Craig appears to be making efforts to balance his work on human rights with other FCO objectives. We shall, of course, be reviewing these again once he has produced his post objectives for the upcoming year.
Director Wider Europe
Then Comes the Endorsement from Jack Straw:
Last night the Foreign Secretary (Jack Straw) read a copy of your minute of 10 March reporting your conversation (in the company of Michael Wood and Matthew Kidd) with Craig Murray.
The Foregin Secretary agrees with the PUS that you handled this very well. He has asked me to thank you.
(Assistant Private Secretary to Jack Straw)
Does anybody wish to now argue that Jack Straw told parliament the truth when he said two years later – when asked specifically about my account that hese events had happened –
It is Mr Murray’s opinion. Mr Murray, as you may know, stood in my constituency. He got fewer votes than the British National Party, and notwithstanding the fact that he assured the widest possible audience within the constituency to his views about use of torture. I set out the British Government’s position on this issue on a number of occasions, including in evidence both here and to the Intelligence and Security Committee. I wrote a pretty detailed letter to a constituent of mine back in June, setting out our position. As I said there, there are no circumstances in which British officials use torture, nor any question of the British Government seeking to justify the use of torture. Again, the British Government, including the terrorist and security agencies, has never used torture for any purpose including for information, nor would we instigate or connive with others in doing so. People have to make their own judgment whether they think I am being accurate or not.
I have highlighted the bits that are plain lies to parliament in view of the above.