I don’t think any single person who has considered the matter seriously, has any real doubt that Jack Straw was complicit in torture in an active and involved way, and has lied about it continually. There are some who would argue he was ethically justified, but that is a different argument. It is not worth engaging in ethical argument with anybody who maintains that the facts which are the basis of the argument, should not be known.
The Gibson Inquiry was set up by the Government precisely to get to the truth of these matters. It was then cancelled precisely in order to hide the truth of these matters, which is one Hell of a U-Turn. The real reason for the cancellation of the Gibson Inquiry was that it became evident from its initial inquiries, firstly that Gibson was not a vicious calculating placeman like Hutton, and secondly that the number of very senior ministers, diplomats, security service agents and civil servants who were directly implicated in criminal activity was very large.
I confess that the cancellation of the Gibson Inquiry, at which I was determined to give evidence, came as a staggering blow to me. The official excuse for its cancellation was that there are a number of law cases pending over torture of individuals. This was very strange as public inquiries are generally into incidents likely to result in law cases, and the notion that the inquiry cannot run in parallel with law cases is a novel one.
Anyway, I collected myself and I quietly after several police interviews gave my formal, sworn, eye-witness evidence to the Metropolitan Police to assist the police investigation against Jack Straw, Mark Allen and others in the kidnap and torture of Abdel Belhaj and others. That was some years ago, and it is now absolutely plain to me that the very decent and genuine policemen whom I met are being blocked from ever going anywhere with that case.
Now we have the news that the new Justice and Security Act is to be used by the government to ensure that the facts of Belhaj’ civil case against Straw and Allen are forever hidden from the public. It is quite extraordinarily Orwellian that the systematic and deliberate denial of justice is through something called the “Justice and Security Act”.
What an appalling country.