Daily Archives: July 26, 2012


Torture in the 21st Century

On Monday 30 July at 11am on Radio 4 there will be a BBC radio programme entitled “Torture in the 21st Century”, presented by John Sweeney. I was interviewed extensively for it, though I don’t know how much of my interview will feature. I shall be in Ghana then and iPlayer does not work abroad, so if anybody has the technical ability to make a sound file and send it to me, I should be grateful.

Britain has still not admitted, let alone sought to redress, its complicity in post 9/11 torture networks, and indeed its continued receipt on a regular basis of intelligence from torture from the security services of, for example, Bahrain. The worrying thing about the disingenuous vapourings of John Sawers, head of MI6, is that he still maintains that torture gets you the truth. It does not. It gets you whatever the Bahraini, Uzbek, US, or whatever government wishes to hear, which is a very different thing.

The Gibson Inquiry into complicity in torture was unceremoniously halted, a total fail like every other stated aim of the coalition government. It has presented an interim report to ministers who have spent two weeks considering the “security risk” of publishing it. This is nonsense as the interim report is purely procedural. It contains recommendations for how a resumed inquiry (ha ha) should conduct its business. Gibson’s interim report contains no reference to any evidence on any cases of torture or on the policy of complicity in torture.

In fact ministers are really stalling publication because they are hoping simply to let the entire notion of an inquiry die away.

This is the response I got from the Gibson Inquiry secretariat on the fate of my own evidence in relation to the interim report:

There was no specific reference to evidence from individual witnesses as we were in the pre-evidence gathering phase prior to being wound up and your evidence was provided to the police in relation to their investigation into the Libyan cases. The Panel has seen your evidence and will ensure that this is included in the handover materials that are to be stored and provided to the next Inquiry as and when it is established.

I am convinced there is no chance I will ever get to testify either in court or to a judicial inquiry. The powers that be in this country have great finesse. They don’t have to do anything too messy to inconvenient witnesses, they just freeze them out.

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