Gibson rendition and torture inquiry has been scrapped

18 January 2012 by


1 Crown Office Row’s Philippa Whipple QC was leading counsel to the Gibson Inquiry. She is not the writer of this post

 The Justice Secretary has told Parliament that the Gibson Inquiry tasked with considering whether Britain was “implicated in the improper treatment of detainees, held by other countries, that may have occurred in the aftermath of 9/11” has been scrapped.

Ken Clarke announced that the police investigations into rendition, which were always to come before the formal start of the inquiry’s hearings, would take so long that the current inquiry could not continue. He said the Government remained committed to a judge-led inquiry, but presumably the current inquiry team could not be kept twiddling their collective thumbs for years longer.

The Crown Prosecution Service announced last week that it would not be bringing charges in relation to some of the historic allegations – particularly in relation to Binyam Mohammed and a 2002 incident at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. It would, however, begin to investigate more recent allegations in relation to Libya and “a number of further specific allegations of ill-treatment“. 

The Gibson Inquiry has been controversial from the start. Significant criticism has surrounded the Inquiry’s plans for a mixture of open and closed hearings, and it has recently has been subject to a boycott from the former and current detainees, who allegedly suffered torture with the knowledge of UK security services as well as the NGOs who supported them.

Not all of the now defunct inquiry’s work will be wasted as it will be presenting a report of that work to Parliament. Sir Peter Gibson has said via the Inquiry’s website:

The Inquiry regrets the fact that we are not able to complete the task we were asked to do by the Prime Minister (as set out in his letter to me of 6 July 2010). However we recognise that it is not practical for the Inquiry to continue for an indefinite period to wait for the conclusion of the police investigations. The Inquiry has, however, already done a large amount of preliminary work, including the collation of many documents from Government departments and the Security and Intelligence Agencies. We welcome therefore the opportunity to bring together the work we have done to date. The Inquiry will therefore produce a report of our work, highlighting themes which might be subject to further examination.

It seems that whichever judge is to lead a future inquiry, it has now been kicked into the very long grass. For more information, see this excellent BBC Q&A the links below.

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  1. James Lawson says:

    It was an inquiry within the internationally condemned ‘Inquiries Act 2005’ – that wonderful piece of New Labour legislative ‘fairness’ retained by the present government which allows a Minister responsible for the department subject to the inquiry to set the terms of reference for it, choose who is going to run it, terminate the inquiry if he does not like the way its going or edit out the bits of the report the government find embarrassing. Not many awkward questions asked when the inquiries’ terms of reference were suddenly changed when incriminating documents turned up in the wreckage of a Government Office in Libya with possible live testimony on the part of a Senior Official of the former regime who changed sides. A smart political move on the part of the Government to assert the primacy of a Police inquiry the outcome of which we already know – insufficient evidence for a realistic chance of a conviction to a criminal standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt! Forget about any of the victims seeking redress in civil proceedings on a standard of proof on the balance of probabilities because you can bet dollars to doughnuts that the government will have in place the new ‘closed evidence’ procedure extended to civil proceedings by that time, making it impossible for evidence to be made available to any claimant to allow him or her to bring proceedings. Anyone who seriously believes that the security and intelligence services will ever be held to account for anything can dream on!

  2. Danny says:

    funny today we have the yanks trying to hijack the Internet, we all know of UK/US being best friends with middle eastern dictators and helped challenge democracy in Africa, ME and South America. And we all know that UK/US committed attrocities in Iraq and illegally occupied and caused over 2m people to be considered homeless, and yet we still have to hear them being holier than thou! makes you sick in the pit of your stomach that US and UK politicians and murderers will never see their day in the Hague! white western hypocrisy didnt die with the abolition of slavery or the commonwealth! no wonder England crickets teams first response to being hammered is to call the pakistan bowler a cheat! its ingrained in their wiring to be unfair and stack the odds in their favour, we could call this the Maxim Gun effect! maybe one day they will look back on the crimes against humantiy and take some responsibility but they are already blaming a previous generation for the mess in the ME.

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