MoD guidelines challenged

APPG Member David Davis challenged ministers through an Urgent Question over Ministry of Defence guidelines that appear to give ministers discretion over whether to approve information sharing that could be linked to torture.

Documents released under a Freedom of Information Act request by Dr Sam Raphael, Co-Director of the collaborative research initiative The Rendition Project, include MoD guidelines which state that information sharing should not proceed where there is a risk of torture "unless ministers agree that the exceptional benefits justify accepting the risk and the legal consequences that may follow." David Davis argued that this paragraph "presumes that Ministers can overrule the law, even international law, including that on absolute rights such as the prohibition of torture."

In response, the Defence Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, insisted that the Government's position was one of robust opposition to torture, and that once the review by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner of the Government's Consolidated Guidance on overseas detainees was completed and published, internal MoD guidance could be reviewed aC ordinary. She added that she expected the Commissioner's review to be completed and considered by the Government shortly: "I anticipate that this will be a matter of weeks." This was a much more definite response regarding the publication of the review of the Consolidated Guidance than that given in answer to a Parliamentary Question by APPG Treasurer Lord Hodgson in April.

In the course of the debate, a number of MPs, including APPG member Andrew Mitchell, pressed the Secretary of State on the failure to pursue a judge-led inquiry into extraordinary rendition, now some 323 days (and counting) since the release of the Intelligence and Security Committee's report. On this, however, the new Secretary of State declined to be drawn.

See the Urgent Question and resulting debate here.