Socialist Worker

The Troublemaker - Spooks fight to cover up Britain's role in torture

Issue No. 2545

Protesters against torture marching to the White House

Protesters against torture marching to the White House (Pic: Justin Norman/Flickr)


The Ministry of Defence and MI6 are insisting that claims made by people tortured must be heard behind closed doors.

It is the first time a law allowing civil cases to be tried in secret has been used.

It is to prevent the extent of how much British soldiers and intelligence officers were involved in rendition torture operations from coming to light.

Yunus Rahmatullah and Amanatullah Ali, two Pakistani nationals, were captured by British special forces in Iraq in 2004 and handed over to US troops.

They were held first at Camp Nama, a secret detention facility at Baghdad airport that British troops helped to run.

They were later transferred to Abu Ghraib jail before being rendered to the Bagram “black prison” in Afghanistan.

Britains secret history of torture
Britain's secret history of torture
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They were released without charge ten years later, in 2014.

Their capture and transfer was only disclosed to the House of Commons in 2009 by then defence secretary John Hutton. Lawyers acting for the government seized on the 2013 Justice and Security Act, which allows a judge to rule that “sensitive” material relating to “national security” can be heard in secret.

The act was brought in after the government paid compensation to those rendered to Guantanamo Bay, in an out-of-court settlement so that the state’s role in the operations would not be revealed.

The government does not want to admit the role that British special forces and spooks played in the capture and torture.

Omran Belhadi, is a lawyer at the human rights organisation Reprieve. He said, “This is secrecy piled upon secrecy.

“The government is trying to cover up false intelligence, riding rough-shod over long-established principles.”

Rahmatullah has described in detail his torture and abuse. He was beaten unconscious when he was captured by British special forces in Iraq in early 2004.

He was locked in a solitary cell with rats. He was exposed to daylight in 2006 for the first time in two and a half years.

At the time Labour’s Jack Straw called torture allegations “conspiracy theories”.


Daily Mail says sorry for antisemitism slur

The Daily Mail issued one of its frequent “clarifications and corrections” last week.

It referred to an article in October last year on an event organised by the Palestinian Return Centre.

In it the Mail said an audience member “had been applauded for saying that Jews were responsible for the Holocaust”.

Its correction read, “The Centre had not invited the audience member in question and the applause followed subsequent remarks made about the boycott of Israel by Baroness Tonge.”

Previous articles attacking the PRC including one from October was headlined, “Lib Dems SUSPEND peer after she hosts ‘genuinely horrifying’ House of Lords event where it was claimed that JEWS were responsible for the Holocaust.”

A correction explained that the audience applauded Baroness Tonge and not an audience member. But for some reason, the Mail only just got around to publishing the correction in its print edition.


Only the mayor can afford a London house

London mayor Sadiq Khan personally intervened to push ahead part of the infamous Haringey redevelopment project last week.

Planning permission for the Hale Wharf site in Tottenham had previously been rejected by Haringey council. Khan has granted the permission for the development, part of the £2 billion Haringey redevelopment which will see the council demolish seven estates in the borough.

Last week it was announced 500 tenants are being forced from their homes with no right to return as part of the redevelopment.

Khan’s main campaign commitment was housing.

But his demand for new developments is that they include 35 percent “affordable” housing—and his definition of affordable is 80 percent of market rent.

“I am determined to explore all options for development across the capital,” said Khan.

It’s increasingly clear that doesn’t include housing people can actually afford.


Liam Fox is still a really bad liar

Troublemaker favourite Liam Fox attempted to rewrite what he had already rewritten.

The international trade secretary vehemently denied posting a message—that was being displayed on a huge screen just over his left shoulder.

The tweet read, “The United Kingdom, is one of the few countries in the European Union that does not need to bury its 20th century history.”

Fox declared “I didn’t send that tweet.”


Sentimental Tory adds insult to injury

Last month Tory MP Pauline Latham demanded that people “stop being so sentimental” about child refugees. This month she’s at it again.

Daniel Grimwood wrote to Latham after discovering some refugees trapped in a lorry. “Had we not been there some or all of these children would almost certainly have died,” he wrote.

“Against this backdrop I find your speech callous and chilling in its inhumanity. It is not sentimental to hope vulnerable babies can be saved from suffocation and freezing.”

Latham’s response was callous and chilling, “Maybe you will be contacting your local authority and offering to foster or adopt these poor trafficked children.”


Osborne snags a cushy new 'job'

Former chancellor George Osborne has got a new job. Sort of. He will grab a £650,000 salary from global hedge fund BlackRock.

But he’ll only be working for around four days a month. Osborne “earned” another £786,450 last year from giving 15 speeches.

He will pay a ‘massive’ £720 a year more tax after the budget.


House of Lords cash scandal covered up

Members of the House of Lords who claim perks without doing any work will not be “named and shamed”.

Lords speaker Baroness D’Souza spent months investigating peers who collected their £300 daily allowance but did not take part in debates. One even kept a taxi running outside while signing in to collect the allowance.

The Baroness shelved the probe to avoid a “press storm”.


Toff of the week

A cellar in Kensington Palace

  • WIth space for flunkeys and finery a huge new basement will make room for William and Kate’s relocation to Kensington Palace.
  • The 165ft-long mega-basement will see some of the 100 staff work there. It will also house a ceremonial dress collection.
  • You’re paying.

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