Torture row: PM to make MI5 rules on interrogation public

THE rules governing the interrogation of suspects by spies and soldiers will be published after Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, attempted to quell the furore over torture allegations.

The Prime Minister has ordered that the interview procedures of MI5 and MI6 be open to scrutiny following complaints by Binyam Mohamed, a British resident, that the UK intelligence services had been complicit in his "medieval torture".

The government will also appoint a former senior judge, Peter Gibson, as an Intelligence Security Commissioner, to make sure the rules – which will ban torture – are being followed, Mr Brown said. He will report to the Prime Minister every year.

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In a statement to parliament, Mr Brown said that he wanted "to protect the reputation of our security and intelligence services" and that Britain condemned torture "without reservation".

He added: "Torture has no place in a modern democratic society. We will not condone it. Nor will we ever ask others to do it on our behalf."

Jim Devine, Labour MP for Livingston, also quizzed Mr Brown during Prime Minister's Questions yesterday over the allegations of torture. He called for assurances that the claims would be fully investigated.

Mr Brown insisted he had faith in the security services, adding: "We must ensure that the public also have all the faith that is necessary in our security services and we condemn absolutely the use of torture."

David Cameron, the Conservative leader, called for an inquiry into the allegations last week, but his demand was rejected by Mr Brown.

The parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee has also sent proposals for reform to Mr Brown after harbouring serious concerns about allegations of British complicity.

The move follows complaints from Ethiopian-born Mr Mohamed, who also alleged that British agents supplied questions to interrogators who abused him in Morocco.

And yesterday a lawyer for Shaker Aamer, a Saudi citizen who has British residency, also said that a British intelligence officer had watched his client being mistreated in Afghanistan in 2002.

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There was scepticism about Mr Brown's moves to open up the official guidance to scrutiny.

David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, said Mr Brown's efforts did not go far enough and only an independent inquiry could properly investigate the conduct of spy agencies and soldiers.

Legal charity Reprieve, which represents Mr Mohamed and other Guantanamo Bay detainees, criticised the plan.

Clare Algar, Reprieve's executive director, said: "This is a textbook case of the fox guarding the hen house. The Prime Minister is trusting people who are deeply involved in the security services to check their conduct. It is ludicrous to suggest that this will restore public confidence."

Tim Hancock, campaigns director of Amnesty UK, said: "If the Prime Minister thinks this will silence calls for a full, impartial inquiry into UK collusion in torture and rendition, he should think again."


THE decision by Gordon Brown to order the publication of interrogation techniques was triggered by new information from the head of MI5.

Jonathan Evans, the head of the intelligence service, had given evidence to MPs on the intelligence and security committee, who had been investigation torture allegations surrounding the Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed.

Kim Howells, chairman of the ISC, said the new evidence had a "far wider significance that went beyond an individual case" and "raised questions about the policy and procedures that our security and intelligence agencies follow".