Page last updated at 13:47 GMT, Wednesday, 2 June 2010 14:47 UK

Adam Ingram admits misleading MPs over hooding in Iraq

Adam Ingram
Mr Ingram was armed forces minister from 2001 to 2007

Ex-Labour minister Adam Ingram has admitted misleading MPs over British troops' hooding of Iraqi prisoners.

In a Parliamentary answer he denied UK forces used hooding as an interrogation technique despite having seen papers to the contrary, a public inquiry heard.

The inquiry is investigating claims UK soldiers beat to death Iraqi Baha Mousa, 26, in Basra in September 2003.

Mr Ingram was copied in on a memo that revealed Mr Mousa was hooded for nearly 24 of 36 hours in custody before dying.

He also received another document stating Mr Mousa, a hotel receptionist, and his colleagues were hooded on the advice of an interrogation expert.

'Not accurate'

Mr Ingram had assured the then head of the Parliamentary joint committee on human rights, Jean Corston, that hooding was only used while detainees were being transported.

In a letter dated nine months after Mr Mousa's death, he wrote: "I should make absolutely clear that hooding was only used during the transit of prisoners. It was not used as an interrogation technique."

In hindsight it would have been better if the department had reminded me of all the documentation
Adam Ingram

But he admitted to the inquiry in London on Wednesday this information should have been "more specific".

He said: "It [hooding] could have been used within an interrogation area for the security of the individual because that individual may be coming to give evidence... it's clearly not a very precise term."

Rabinder Singh QC, counsel for Mr Mousa's family, said to Mr Ingram: "It's just not accurate, is it?" Mr Ingram replied: "That's correct."

Mr Ingram, the armed forces minister from 2001 to 2007, also assured Labour MP Kevin McNamara that the British military did not employ hooding to question suspects.

He said in a Parliamentary answer dated June 28 2004: "We are not aware of any incidents in which United Kingdom interrogators are alleged to have used hooding as an interrogation technique."

But this contradicted a Ministry of Defence document, dated September 18 2003, seen by Mr Ingram, the inquiry heard.

Baha Mousa and his family
Iraqi hotel worker Baha Mousa, 26, died in Basra in September 2003

The memo stated: "In this instance the tactical questioning (TQ) of the suspects was conducted by two intelligence corps staff sergeants, both fully trained in TQ.

"It would appear that the hooding of the suspects took place on the advice of one of the staff sergeants."

Mr Ingram said: "In hindsight it would have been better if the department had reminded me of all the documentation.

"It certainly would not have been within my power to remember everything that I had been informed in writing or verbally."

Mr Mousa was found dead with 93 separate injuries after being held in the custody of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment.

The inquiry has heard that the troops used "conditioning" methods on Iraqi prisoners, such as hooding, sleep deprivation and making them stand in painful stress positions with their knees bent and hands outstretched.

The techniques were banned by the government in 1972 following an investigation into interrogation in Northern Ireland.

The inquiry is currently examining who within the chain of command told British soldiers serving in Iraq in 2003 they were permitted to use these banned methods.

Geoff Hoon, another former Labour minister who was defence secretary between 1999 and 2005, will appear at the public inquiry on 10 June.

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