Page last updated at 16:16 GMT, Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Torture inquiry scrapped amid police investigations

An inquiry into allegations of British complicity in torture has been scrapped, Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has announced.

Speaking on 18 January 2012, Mr Clarke said the inquiry into the treatment of detainees could not continue because of ongoing police investigations.

The inquiry, announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in July 2010, was due to be led by retired Appeal Court judge Sir Peter Gibson.

Mr Clarke told MPs there was "no prospect" of the Gibson Inquiry being able to launch "in the foreseeable future" after the Metropolitan Police launched a new investigation into the alleged ill-treatment of two Libyans.

The men claim British officials assisted their rendition to Libya, where they were tortured.

Mr Clarke said work on the Gibson Inquiry would be brought "to a conclusion", but insisted the government was committed to holding "an independent, judge-led inquiry" once all police investigations had concluded.

Responding, shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan asked why the inquiry could not be put on hold until police investigations were over.

Mr Khan urged Mr Clarke to ensure the new inquiry "has as much legitimacy as possible".

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell welcomed the decision to scrap the inquiry as "an entirely sensible one".

"I think you have had inevitably to bow to the changed circumstances," Sir Menzies told the justice secretary.

Former Justice Secretary Jack Straw agreed, telling MPs Mr Clarke probably had "no alternative".

But Mr Straw added that, had Sir Peter had the chance to conclude his inquiry, he "would have been able to do a most thorough job".

"I keep trying to assure people there is no conspiracy here," Mr Clarke said.

"The government actually wants these things properly investigated," he told MPs.

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