19 April 2009

Pack Of Lies

In February I blogged about The Law and Subversion and Insurgency Suppression.

I focused upon the difficulties of applying the law impartially when the court does not have access to all the evidence it needs.

I said, "[t]his is simply because the expert evidence (Foreign relations, intelligence) may be a complete and utter pack of lies (recall the Matrix Churchill affair)."

My note was based upon the court case Mohamed, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs [2009] EWHC 152 (Admin).

Months later, The Times reports, "Government apologises for torture cover-up"

"THE government has apologised to two High Court judges after discovering that an MI5 officer misled them over the case of a British terrorist suspect allegedly tortured while in America’s extraordinary rendition programme.

Lawyers for David Miliband, the foreign secretary, said it was “a matter of great regret” that during “a full and independent review of the case” they had uncovered 13 new documents suggesting that the official account of Britain’s knowledge of what was happening to Binyam Mohamed was inaccurate.

This is very troubling; neither the newspaper report nor this blog do justice to the story.

Updates -
  1. The Times from 22nd April has,

    "Binyam Mohamed challenges secret evidence ruling"

    "This week lawyers for Binyam Mohamed, the former Guantánamo detainee, return to court to challenge the ruling that he cannot see secret evidence that, he maintains, is central to his claim to have been subject to torture with the consent of the UK intelligence authorities.

    In February two High Court judges refused reluctantly to release the material after being told that disclosure could put at risk intelligence co-operation between the UK and the US Governments.

    Yesterday Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones were urged to revisit their ruling on the ground that it had been made on the basis of information since shown to be false.

  2. The Guardian, from the 23rd April has,

    "David Miliband claims of US threat over torture case 'slippery', court told"

    "David Miliband, the foreign secretary, was accused yesterday of seriously misleading high court judges by claiming that the United States would stop sharing crucial intelligence with Britain if they agreed to disclose CIA documents showing how a UK resident was tortured.

    Lawyers acting for Binyam Mohamed, who says MI5 was complicit in his torture, and for media organisations led by the Guardian, accused Miliband and his officials of making "false assertions" and "astonishing" and "extraordinary" statements to the high court.

    Criticism centred on the threat that Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones said Miliband had claimed existed - namely, that if they ordered the disclosure of CIA information relating to Mohamed's treatment and Britain's involvement in it, the US would end intelligence co-operation with the UK.

  3. The Press Association from 23rd has,

    "Time limit on detainee case

    "A court has put a deadline on the Government defence to test case damages claims by seven ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees, including five London men.

    Binyam Mohamed, Bisher Al Rawi, Jamil El Banna, Richard Belmar and Martin Mubanga claim rendition and torture.

    The High Court said a defence must be served by July 10 and relevant documents disclosed by October 9.

  4. PRESS RELEASE 08 May 2009

    Release date: Immediate

    Binyam Mohamed ruling: Judges will re-consider public disclosure of UK complicity in torture
    "The High Court has announced that it will re-open its original judgment that details of the torture of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed should remain secret in the interests of national security."

  5. 17th October 2009. Pathetic.

    "Binyam Mohamed ruling is a victory for justice - but now David Miliband censors judges"

    "The High Court last week dealt a humiliating blow to Foreign Secretary David Miliband's attempts to keep secret an official account of the torture of Binyam Mohamed, stating that his arguments had 'no rational basis' in a democracy governed by the rule of law."


  1. It is a worry and there's a deep cynicism behind the reaction to it in certain quarters.