Philip Hammond’s U-turn over torture claim

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Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has conceded that UK-captured detainees in Afghanistan cannot currently be transferred to Afghan custody because of the risk of serious ill treatment.

A High Court judge was told yesterday secret new information has led the minister to impose a moratorium on handing over suspect insurgents to the custody of the Afghan intelligence service.

The Defence Secretary was due to oppose an application by human rights lawyers for a court declaration that there is “a real risk” of being abused and tortured in Afghan jails.

The application concerns Afghan farmer Serdar Mohammed, 24 who says he was arrested by UK forces in April 2010 while working on his family’s farm.