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An open and shut case

Of course MI5 doesn’t collude in torture, as wrongly suggested in the case of Binyam Mohamed. Nor do they suppress documents. And how do we know all this to be true? Because the head of the Security Service, Jonathan Hunt, and two cabinet ministers – foreign secretary David Miliband and Home Secretary Alan Johnson – say so.

And just to confirm all is in order, the chair of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee Kim Howells and senior Tory member Michael Mates said that the “director-general [Hunt] has confirmed to us … that no document concerning Binyam Mohamed and his treatment by the US authorities has been withheld from us."

And, as we know, the state never lies (as the Iraq inquiry clearly demonstrates). So we can all rest secure in our homes in the knowledge that we are in honest hands who will never transgress the law – at least not knowingly. If this sounds a little cynical you could be right. After a lifetime of being lied to and deceived by the authorities, I could be forgiven.

There is an air of desperation about the statements and letters from Hunt, Miliband and Johnson that appear like a rash all over the media and the web this morning in the wake of the Appeal Court ruling against the government in the case of Mohamed. It’s hard to lend them any creditability whatsoever.

What springs to mind is the quip made immortal by call-girl Mandy Rice Davies, whose involvement with Christine Keeler in the Profumo affair of the early 1960s helped wreck the Tory government of the time. During a trial, when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her, she replied, "Well, he would, wouldn't he?".

The documents made pubic by the court, against the wishes of the government, confirm that Mohamed was tortured by Pakistani intelligence under US supervision and that MI5 agents knew this to be the case. Despite this, MI5 took part in further interrogations of Mohamed, who was then shipped to Guantanamo detention camp in an example of “extraordinary rendition” which New Labour has, of course, washed its hands of, despite allowing flights to refuel in Britain.

Miliband has gone to extraordinary lengths to try and block any criticism of MI5, even being accused of “knobbling” the Appeal Court. A lawyer for the Foreign Office persuaded the judges to tone down their criticism in a draft judgement. The judges apparently believed Mohamed’s lawyers concurred. Only later did it transpire that they had not seen the Foreign Office submission until it was too late to intervene. Another case of trampling over the rule of law while proclaiming the “independence of the judiciary”. The judges are so embarrassed that they may reopen the case.

Last night, Channel 4 News revealed that in the original version Lord Neuberger, one of the most senior judges in the country, did say that MI5 had been involved in the suppression of information – and that also on this issue it had done this on a previous occasion. He had also stated that MI5's human rights record was dubious. The judgement also went onto say MI5 was “less than frank” over its record on inhumane treatment and that MI5, Britain's domestic security service, had a “worrying disregard” for the truth.

So who would you rather believe? New Labour and MI5 – who are hanging on to each other for dear life – or the Appeal Court? It’s an open and shut case. The whole affair adds weight to our draft Manifesto proposals for dissolving the secret state and creating a real political democracy.

Paul Feldman
Communications editor
12 February 2010

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