Britain names judge to lead inquiry into claims UK spies colluded in terror suspects’ torture

By Jill Lawless, AP
Tuesday, July 6, 2010

UK names judge to lead inquiry into torture claims

LONDON — Britain announced Tuesday that it will hold a judge-led inquiry into allegations that its spies were complicit in the torture of terror suspects held by the U.S. and other allies, and will pay compensation to detainees found to have been mistreated.

The probe, to be led by retired judge Peter Gibson, could complicate intelligence-sharing with Washington.

It follows civil cases brought against the government by 12 ex-detainees who claim British intelligence agents colluded in their mistreatment in Pakistan, Morocco and elsewhere.

Prime Minister David Cameron told lawmakers in the House of Commons that “for the past few years the reputation of our security services has been overshadowed by allegations about their involvement in the treatment of detainees held by other countries.

“It is time to clear up this matter once and for all,” he said.

Cameron said the government would ask the 12 to drop their lawsuits in exchange for mediation, possible compensation and a promise the inquiry will fully investigate their claims.

He said the inquiry cannot start until the conclusion of a criminal investigation under way into allegations against two officers from the MI5 and MI6 intelligence agencies.

“We hope it will start before the end of this year and will report within a year,” Cameron said.

Cameron said Gibson will decide which parts of the inquiry can be held in public, but that intelligence officers will not be required to give evidence publicly.

Gibson is the Intelligence Services Commissioner, a watchdog for Britain’s spies.

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