Chairs call for new measures to prevent UK complicity in torture

Stephen Timms and Andrew Tyrie, co-chairmen of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition stated : “The latest IPCO report shows that parliament and the public should have no confidence in the principles preventing UK complicity in torture and detainee abuse.

“It is vital that new measures are put in place. First and foremost, the implementation of major reforms to the Intelligence and Security Committee, allowing parliament to effectively scrutinise the work of the intelligence agencies.”

Their comment can be found in the following article: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/foreign-office-official-knew-about-detainee-mistreatment-3gp63h8wl which details concerns over internal guidance disseminated by the intelligence agencies, which states "ministers can sign off the passing of material to allies so long as there is “no causal link” between the actions of UK personnel and potential mistreatment. "

Abu Zubaydah case shows need to bolster Intelligence and Security committee

The following letter was placed in the Guardian by the chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition

Your report describes the rendition and torture of Abu Zubaydah by the US government (The CIA tortured him after 9/11. Then they lied. Will the truth ever come out?, 29 January). UK intelligence agencies played a key role in his interrogation, despite knowing that he was subject to unlawful torture. Yet we still do not know the full extent of the British role in torture and unlawful rendition during this era.

The intelligence and security committee (ISC) was, in its own words, “unable to conduct an authoritative inquiry” or produce a “credible report” in its latest attempt in 2018. This was because it was thwarted from collecting the necessary evidence, as its report explains. This is unacceptable. The ISC in its current form is unable to complete such work. Long-mooted reforms to bolster the powers of the ISC must be implemented so that parliament and the public have confidence that the ISC is able to perform its role effectively.
Stephen Timms MP
Andrew Tyrie
 House of Lords

 

 

APPG Annual General Meeting – May 27th, 12.30pm

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition will hold its Annual General Meeting on May 27th, 12.30pm, on Zoom.

APPG Chairman Stephen Timms will give a brief address on the latest developments in the group’s work. All members of the Commons and Lords are welcome to attend. For further details contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

APPG holds inaugural meeting for new Parliament

The APPG on Extraordinary Rendition held its inaugural meeting of the new Parliament on 11 February. At this meeting, Stephen Timms MP was elected Chair of the Group, with Lord Tyrie as Co-chair.  Other officers of the Group were elected and accounts for the year ending August 2019 were presented and accepted. The meeting also set out some of the Group's priorities for the new Parliament.

 You can find the minutes of the meeting here

Government refuses judge-led inquiry, publishes new Guidance

Following Monday's Urgent Question, the government today issued a combination of Oral and Written Statements, along with the successor to the Consolidated Guidance to intelligence and military personnel on detainee issues. 

In his Oral Statement, the Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington announced the publication of the 'Principles' document by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, Sir Adrian Fulford, to replace the Consolidated Guidance. He also announced that "the Government have decided that it is not necessary to establish a further Inquiry." The Minister justified this on the grounds that there was no policy case for doing so because of the changes made to Guidance in recent years, and no legal obligation to do so either.

APPG Members David Davis, Dominic Grieve, Stephen Timms, Andrew Mitchell and Andy Slaughter spoke in response to the Statement, challenging the government's case and pointing in particular to the constraints on the Intelligence and Security Committee's (ISC) investigation that led the Committee to conclude that it should end its inquiry without its having reached full and definitive conclusions. APPG Members Lord Tyrie, Baroness d'Souza and Baroness Ludford spoke In the House of Lords debate,

The APPG will set out its full views on the new 'Principles' document shortly. The APPG participated fully in the Investigatory Powers Commissioner's consultation, and some of the Group's proposals were accepted; Sir Adrian Fulford's accompanying letter to the Prime Minister makes specific reference to the APPG regarding whistleblowing. However, the failure to set clear prohibitions on ministerial action and decision-making is a cause for significant concern.

The Statement and debate can be found here, and the APPG's press release can be found here.   

 

Inquiry decision and Consolidated Guidance 'this week'

In response to an Urgent Question on Monday 15 July from APPG Chair Ken Clarke, the Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington committed the government to setting out its decision on a judge-led inquiry 'later this week'. Mr Lidington, relying on behalf of the Prime Minister, added that the government would, at the same time, publish its response to Sir Adrian Fulford's review of the Consolidated Guidance.

Neither the precise date nor the form of the government announcement was clear from Mr Lidington's statement. The Speaker's suggestion that it should be the subject of an Oral Statement to the House elicited a non-commit all reply from the Minister.

Ken Clarke's Urgent Question reminded the government of commitments made over a year ago that the House would be told within 60 days of its view about a judge-led inquiry. So far that commitment has not been delivered. Members of the APPG pressed the Minister further, but we now await the announcement within the coming days.

Ken Clarke's Urgent Question, and the resulting debate, can be found here

APPG holds EGM, elects Stephen Timms MP as Vice-Chair

The APPG held an Extraordianry General Meeting (EGM) on Tuesday 9 July, at which Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP was elected as an additional Vice-Chair of the Group.

The meeting also reviewed recent and current activities of the Group, including the continuing campaign for a judge-led inquiry.

Read the minutes of the EGM here.

APPG members write to the Prime Minister

One year on from the publication of the Intelligence and Security Committee's (ISC) two reports on detainee mistreatment and rendtion, the Government has failed to respond to calls for a renewed judge-led inquiry. The ISC reports demonstrated both the much greater scale of British involvement in rendtion than previously thought, and the degree to which their work had been frustrated, and ultimately halted, by denial of access to key witnesses.

At the time of publication, a Government Minister committed to reporting back to Parliament on the Government's stance towards a new inquiry. When a response to the report was finally slipped out, some 147 days after publication, it made no mention of an inquiry, and ministers have continued to refuse to be drawn on the subject since. 

APPG Chairman Ken Clarke and other members of the APPG have written to the Prime Minister on the first anniversary of the ISC reports, urging the need for Govenrment to deliver on its pledge of an inquiry, and for the Prime Minister to overhaul the 'Consolidated Guidance' to intelligence officers and service personnel and publish the outcome, following recent receipt of Sir Adrian Fulford's review of the Guidance.

The letter to the Prime Minister can be found here and the APPG's accompanying press release here.