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Page last updated at 11:16 GMT, Sunday, 1 March 2009

Cover Up

On Sunday 01 March Andrew Marr interviewed David Davis MP.

Please note 'The Andrew Marr Show' must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

Leading Tory claims evidence British officials colluded in torture is strong.

ANDREW MARR:

David Davis MP
David Davis MP

Last week the Government admitted that it had handed terrorist suspects, captured in Iraq, over to the Americans, confirming long-held suspicions the UK was complicit in the rendition, therefore possibly the torture of prisoners.

The admission came only days after Binyam Mohamed, Ethiopian born but resident in Britain, came back here from Guantanamo Bay saying that he'd been tortured.

So time for an inquiry. I'm joined by David Davis who gave up being Shadow Home Secretary to campaign on civil liberties. Welcome.

DAVID DAVIS:

Good morning.

ANDREW MARR:

There have been a series of calls for an inquiry into British involvement in rendition.

First of all the Government said that they weren't involved; now they've said yes there were some rendition cases and therefore whether the British government's been involved in torture.

Is this, is this the moment when things tip over the edge and there really has to be an inquiry?

DAVID DAVIS:

Yes, I think it is. I mean if you'd said to me as late as Christmas of last year that I would be criticising my own government for being involved in torture, I would have said you were bonkers, frankly, but there's a whole sweep of evidence that's come into play.

I mean I am convinced actually that Binyam, from my study of all the facts I have - and not all I can tell you about - that Binyam Mohamed was actually tortured. I am pretty convinced that we knew about it and I'm reasonably convinced we can't…I think there's a prima facie case that we colluded in it in some way.

Now that means to me that a huge number of laws have been broken and indeed a cover up of it is a breach of the law. This is an absolute responsibility in British and international law.

And what's happened, in my view, is that these guys have been tortured, they've been asked questions A, B, C, and then along comes later an MI5 agent or an MI6 agent and asks questions A, B, C. They get the answers.

They can turn around and say, "We didn't get that under torture".

Now if that sort of subtle trick has been pulled, it's got to be exposed and it's got to be stopped. That's not what we stand for.

We are on the side of good against evil in this battle and so we'll sort it out.

ANDREW MARR:

And is that your answer to those people who say, "Well hold on a second. It's a very, very rough world. These are…some very unpleasant people trying to murder us in large numbers and you shouldn't be too namby pampy about this kind of thing"?

DAVID DAVIS:

Well the first thing to say is if, if…I don't know. Some of these people in Guantanamo were probably involved in some bad action from our point of view - illegal, criminal action: attempted terrorism, attempted killing of British soldiers or other soldiers. I don't know. If they're innocent, however, this is a double barbarism that they were tortured with razor blades and electrodes and beatings and so on. If they're guilty, we can never ever convict them because all the evidence is tainted. So either way, it is just barmy. What's more, the people who are in the front line - the special forces operators and the agents and so on, some of whom I know - these, these all joined up because they wanted to be on the side of good against evil. You know they wanted to be on the side of right. They wanted to be the guys in the white hat, not the black hat. And when we involve ourselves in torture, this undermines what they joined up for. It corrupts their principles. So that's…for that reason, but also it doesn't work.

ANDREW MARR:

Yeah.

DAVID DAVIS:

It actually doesn't work. If I torture you…Well put it the other way round. If you torture me, I'll tell you what you want me to hear, what you want to hear…

ANDREW MARR:

Yeah.

DAVID DAVIS:

…and I'll wor…I'll spend my time trying to work out what you want to hear. It'll stop you torturing.

ANDREW MARR:

And it's not real evidence. Let me ask you about…

DAVID DAVIS:

(over) But to finish the point, we do need the inquiry.

ANDREW MARR:

We need the inquiry.

DAVID DAVIS:

And what's interesting now is that we have Lord Carlisle, not somebody who easily criticises the Government - he is the Government's independent reviewer of terrorism - he's called for an inquiry, so there should be a judge led inquiry. Not an internal inquiry; a judge led inquiry. And what's more, the ministers - Jacqui Smith and David Miliband and Jack Straw, who would have been involved at the time - should appear in front of the Joint Committee on Human Rights and answer to Parliament too.

ANDREW MARR:

Because they're not at the moment?

DAVID DAVIS:

Yuh.

ANDREW MARR:

Can I ask you about another aspect of all of this? You appeared on a platform last night in front of you know a lot of people on the Left, Liberals and so on, for a new campaign about liberties in this country. And you said that we are moving towards some kind of police state, to which a lot of people would say, "Oh come on! That's going far too far. That's just scaremongering".

DAVID DAVIS:

Yeah. The way I did it was actually I said we're not a police state. If we had been, we wouldn't have been meeting there. Incidentally, as well as me there was the Director of Public Prosecutions who's just retired, there was the Ex-Attorney General, there was Lord Bingham, one of the most leading law lords, as well as Vince Cable and a whole series of other people. So it was a very, very broad appeal. And it was packed! There was people paying to come. They had a waiting list to get into this conference, let alone the ones in five places, including Belfast.

ANDREW MARR:

So what the…

DAVID DAVIS:

So very important, it's struck a chord. Now what I said was it's not a police state, but you know what have we got? We've got a situation now where the Government is building databases for everybody from birth to grave, from cradle to grave, and they're going to know almost everything about all of us. They want to have a database of every single email, text, telephone call, which they can then search. They want to be able to maintain…Well you can go on and on and on.

ANDREW MARR:

Yeah and…

DAVID DAVIS:

There's a whole series of these, of these problems - each one of which causes an outraged reaction from a progressively large number of people.

ANDREW MARR:

And people will say that's all very well, but the idea that the Conservatives would come into power and roll this back is absurd. Oppositions are always in favour of liberty, just like they're always in favour of devolution. Get them into power and they'll be just like the last lot.

DAVID DAVIS:

Well there's always a temptation in government. That at least is a wise comment. But that's why I promised when I was Shadow Home Secretary, we would abolish the ID card. And Dominic Grieve, who was also there yesterday, reinforced the promise. That's why I said we should bring 28 days down, not up, once we've got intercept evidence, and I went through a whole series of other things. We have to commit in advance, so that we're actually going to make our country back to what it was - a very free country where the individual knows that what is private to him - his own identity, what belongs to him - is not intruded on by the state and his freedoms aren't impinged on by the state. And really you know we aren't there. We're not in a police state, but we are…we're a long way from where we used to be.

ANDREW MARR:

Alright. David Davis, thank you very much indeed.

DAVID DAVIS:

Thank you.

INTERVIEW ENDS


Please note "The Andrew Marr Show" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.


NB: This transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy


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