Finally David Cameron has announced that there will be an inquiry into British government complicity in torture. It will not start until a number of civil and criminal proceedings by individuals who claim they have been tortured have been resolved – which David Cameron appears to believe will be later this year, but we can’t know that.
Unlike the Chilcott Inquiry, the personnel of this inquiry are not obviously packed with supporters of the government view. I am somewhat concerned that Sir Peter Gibson, who has been Intelligence Services Commissioner for some years, can be viewed as parti pris. If the intelligence services were seriously misbehaving throughout his time as Commissioner, is he not being asked to judge whether he himself has been negligent?
But Dame Janet Paraskeva, head of the civil service commissioners, and Peter Riddell are genuinely independent minded people. Let us hope Sir Peter Gibson can be too.
But what we don’t have is the terms of reference of the inquiry. These are absolutely crucial. Nothing in David Cameron’s statement precluded the possibility that it will, as the intelligence services wish, simply look at individual cases of victims and assess compensation for them, without considering the existence of an overarching ministerially approved policy to use intelligence from torture.
I remain deeply concerned that individual junior MI5 and MI6 officers will be punished, while Tony Blair and Jack Straw plus the very senior officials like Lord Jay and Sir Richard Dearlove, who were responsible for setting the policy, will get off scot free.
It is still by no means sure that the inquiry will even be permitted to consider this aspect. I remain doubtful that I will be able to give my own evidence of ministerial policy of complicity with torture.
You can see the documents supporting that evidence here: