Page last updated at 15:47 GMT, Friday, 11 September 2009 16:47 UK

Police probe MI6 'torture' claims

Scotland Yard
Specific details of the incident being investigated have not been revealed

Police are investigating an incident involving an MI6 officer for possible complicity in torture.

This follows referral of the incident to Attorney General Baroness Scotland by MI6 - the Secret Intelligence Service - on its own initiative.

Scotland Yard said it had been asked to investigate "the conditions under which a non-Briton was held" and "potential involvement of British personnel".

Police are already probing claims MI5 was complicit in the abuse of a man.

UK resident Binyam Mohamed claims that an officer from MI5 - the Security Service - was complicit in his torture while he was in US custody in Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan.

Human rights

The new investigation, which police say is unrelated to Mr Mohamed, was announced in a letter from Foreign Secretary David Miliband to shadow foreign secretary William Hague.

Mr Miliband wrote: "It is for the police to investigate. The government cannot comment further both to avoid prejudice and to protect the individuals involved.

"The scope and handling of any police investigation is a matter for the police themselves."

We need to know where and when this occurred, and what kind of incident is being investigated
Ed Davey
Liberal Democrat spokesman

But he stressed that the government "wholeheartedly condemns torture".

"We will not condone it. Neither will we ever ask others to do it on our behalf.

"This is not mere rhetoric but a principled stance consistent with our unequivocal commitment to human rights."

He added: "We are fortunate to have the best security and intelligence services and armed forces in the world.

"We are all safer because of the work they do with integrity and bravery."

'Rotten business'

In response to the letter, Mr Hague said: "It is very important that any such allegations are thoroughly investigated.

"Torture or complicity in torture is unacceptable, immoral and counter-productive."

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey called for a full judicial inquiry into the UK authorities' possible complicity in torture.

Binyam Mohamed
Binyam Mohamed has claimed MI5 was complicit in his alleged torture

"Given the gravity and number of allegations of UK complicity in torture, separate limited police investigations alone are inadequate," he said.

He also argued that more details of the latest probe that were "vital matters of public interest" could be released without prejudicing the case.

"At the very least we need to know where and when this occurred, and what kind of incident is being investigated," Mr Davey said.

"We also need to know what has suddenly prompted this apparent outbreak of conscience at MI6. Otherwise, the public may feel information is being kept secret to save political embarrassment."

Shami Chakrabarti, director of campaign group Liberty, said only an independent judicial inquiry would resolve "this rotten business".

She said: "Whilst it is commendable that both security services appear to be referring suspected cases of complicity in torture to the police, the scale of the problem is alarming.

"Criminal investigations into individual officers don't reveal what ministers knew or authorised, or how to improve guidance for the future."

Human rights group Amnesty International also backed calls for a "comprehensive" investigation.

Campaigns director Tim Hancock said: "Now that both MI5 and MI6 agents are under investigation and more voices join the chorus of those alleging UK collusion in torture, surely it is time for a more comprehensive investigation?"

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