PoliticsUK, as an organisation, does not support or endorse any views on this blog.
Tuesday, 10 April 2012
MI6 'to offer £1 million' in Libya rendition case
The Commissioner for the British Indian Ocean Territory is being sued for complicity in the alleged rendition and torture of a Libyan rebel who is now head of the Tripoli Military Council.
Mr Belhadj, who has been hailed for his role in the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi's regime last year, is already suing the UK Government, its security forces, and Sir Mark Allen, a former director of counter-terrorism at MI6.
The Libyan claims that evidence of the UK's role in the alleged rendition of him and his wife, Fatima Bouchar, is detailed in a number of documents held by the Libyan security services, which came to light after Gaddafi was ousted.
In papers filed at the High Court, Leigh Day & Co claim that the commissioner for the British Indian Ocean Territory was also complicit in the couple's alleged rendition and their imprisonment in Diego Garcia. The lawyers said the action was being taken against the Commissioner's office rather than any particular individual.
Solicitor Rosa Curling, of Leigh Day & Co, said: "The evidence we have seen suggests that our clients were sent back to Libya via Diego Garcia, with the UK Government's involvement and knowledge. Our clients want to know the truth about what happened to them and who was responsible. This Government needs to be open and transparent about the mistakes of the past, so as to ensure they are not repeated in the future."
But according to reports, MI6 has proposed settling the case out of court for more than £1 million.
A senior Whitehall source told the Daily Mail: "This is about covering up British wrongdoing. MI6 has questions to answer. They are scrambling around to settle the case. What they want to do is basically buy the guy off."
Mr Belhadj had been living in exile in Beijing, China, in 2004 when he says he was tortured after being detained with his wife en route to the UK where they were trying to seek asylum.
British ministers have always denied any complicity in rendition or torture and the coalition Government established an inquiry into whether the UK was involved in the "improper treatment of detainees" after 9/11. However, the inquiry was mothballed in January after the Metropolitan Police announced it was investigating Mr Belhadj's claims.
Cori Crider, legal director at Reprieve, which has been instructed as US counsel for Mr Belhadj, suggested that British ministers had either lied about the case or had been misled. "We have asked the Government for months to say whether Belhadj and his wife were sent to Gaddafi via Diego Garcia as planned. They refused. If he did, then ministers right up through (then foreign secretary) David Miliband in 2008 have either been deceived, or lied. All the family want is for the whole truth of their fate, and Britain's role in it, to be known, so these mistakes never occur again."
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "A police investigation is under way, so we are unable to comment. HMG (the Government) will co-operate fully with investigations into allegations made by former Libyan detainees about UK involvement in their mistreatment by the Gaddafi regime. HMG will hold an independent judge-led inquiry once police investigations have concluded."