Extraordinary Rendition and Torture: My Secret Evidence To UK Parliament’s Security and Intelligence Committee

11th October 2016 / United Kingdom

By Graham Vanbergen – The revelation of allegations of UK collusion in the illegal practice of extraordinary rendition and torture by the British government is now known. The fact that the British government sought to keep damning documents secret is evidence of that.  Recently uncovered files included some confidential exchanges between former PM Tony Blair and former US president George W Bush about the treatment of detainees at ‘black site’ – Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In the meantime, former detainees have alleged that British officials were present at, or submitted questions to US officials that ended up with “extreme” interrogation being used. If you really want to know what ‘extreme interrogation’ techniques are – go to Close Guantanamo Bay, but be warned, it is distressing to know this is what our government endorses.

The Independent reported back in March this year that “Litigation continues across multiple US departments over the possible release of mainly intelligence-derived documentation. But 12 documents found in the US State Department’s search, not derived from intelligence, were also withheld. These relate to interventions by British politicians and officials over the treatment of detainees and interrogation techniques. In court papers, the State Department reported: “After reviewing the documents, the UK Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office requested that all 12 documents be withheld in full from public disclosure.

Britain’s involvement in state sponsored kidnappings and transportation for extreme interrogation to offshore sites where the rule of law is suspended is not just controversial – it says something about British government officials. Extraordinary rendition was at first denied by the US and UK because of its illegal, immoral and shameful nature.


In 2005, Jack Straw, then Foreign Secretary, said “there simply is no truth” in claims of UK involvement in rendition. But his successor David Miliband was forced into an apology with the words: “I am very sorry indeed to have to report to the House [of Commons] the need to correct those and other statements on the subject.”

As the picture emerged about UK complicity in government involvement of kidnappings and torture the media have been fully assured at all times there were no more revelations and the full extent of information has been laid bare, proven on more than one occasion, to be totally untrue.

In the meantime, one British individual, close to the diplomatic and political heart that dragged Britain into a disastrous campaign that killed a million people in Iraq is being ‘pulled over the coals’ for telling the truth – then and to this day.

Craig Murray was a British Ambassador from August 2002 to October 2004. Murray complained to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in November 2002, 2003 and in June 2004 that intelligence linking the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to al-Qaeda was unreliable, immoral and illegal, as it was thought to have been obtained through torture. For that the government sacked him.

Here is Craig Murray’s position with the British government as at yesterday, explained by himself.


Craig Murray – “I have been summoned to give evidence before Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee on 20 October, in a secret session. It ought not to be secret as my evidence goes to illegality at the heart of government and collusion in torture. It will be based around the evidence I gave to the Metropolitan Police, which you can read here.

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We are now in the ludicrous position where the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) is considering whether I can be allowed to see documents I actually wrote myself, communications which were sent to me and minutes of meetings I was at, or whether I should be asked to give evidence without any access to the written evidence. I am also waiting to hear whether I shall be allowed to be accompanied by my counsel, the great lawyer Gareth Peirce. I need help and support in preparing and organising my evidence, and I need moral support in appearing in a secret meeting where the large majority of the committee have been chosen specifically as security service “trusties” with an unquestioning neo-con world view. I expect to receive a very hostile reception.”

I have just sent this email to the committee:

Dear James,

I have been considering my appearance before the Committee.

As you will know, there has been very substantial doubt in the human rights community about the good faith of your committee’s inquiry. I have been prepared to give the benefit of the doubt and offer to cooperate.

However if the committee really are genuine, they should wish me to be able to prepare and give the best evidence that I am able to do. There is no doubt that something went very wrong in terms of the UK government’s collusion with overseas torture programmes. The Feinstein report made plain that the CIA was very wrong in what it did, and your committee know very well that the CIA was sharing with SIS the intelligence obtained by torture. The British government has settled with large payments cases where the British government was involved more actively.

To the best of my knowledge, I am the only member of the senior civil service in the UK who attempted to raise a red flag and stop what was happening. My evidence is therefore of some weight. I will also testify there was a deliberate policy of not writing down the policy on accepting torture. I was told this directly and can point to documentary evidence of senior level unminuted policy meetings on the specific subject.

At the time I blew the whistle, Jack Straw denied the existence of the extraordinary rendition programme and I faced 18 trumped-up disciplinary charges, some of them criminal in nature, which resulted in the destruction of my career and my health. I attach a letter from the government to Lord Jones of Cheltenham which confirms I was cleared of all the original charges (but found guilty of revealing their existence). To the best of my knowledge this letter tells a direct untruth that the charges against me arose from formal complaints from members of my staff. I was never told this during the disciplinary process and no such formal complaint was ever put to me.

You will therefore understand that it is essential I am given every facility to give the best evidence to the committee. That means I must be allowed to see the paperwork I have requested already, to refresh my memory. It would make a farce of your inquiry were I not allowed to see communications which were sent to me, minutes of meetings I was at, and even correspondence I wrote myself.

I am not prepared to appear before the committee in a position where the members of the committee have the appropriate documents before them, and I do not. Still less when nobody has the relevant documents.

Similarly, I wish to prepare my evidence with my counsel, Gareth Peirce, and to have her alongside to support and advise me in giving my evidence. If the best evidence to get at the truth is the genuine desire of your committee, I am sure you will decide to allow this.

I should be grateful if you could pass this email and its attachment, which I am publishing, to all members of the committee.



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