Belhaj and Boudchar: Litigation Update

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:29 pm on 10th May 2018.

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Photo of Jeremy Wright Jeremy Wright The Attorney-General 12:29 pm, 10th May 2018

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his comments. On his first point, he is right that consolidated guidance should be kept under review. As I indicated to the shadow Solicitor General, Nick Thomas-Symonds, we will certainly seek to do that. The hon. Gentleman will know that the current ISC inquiry on detainees will, we hope, feed into a proper look again at whether the consolidated guidance is in the right place. It is worth making the point, which the hon. Gentleman will recognise from his experience of these matters, that the UK is unusual in the publication of such guidance. It is of course important that we recognise our failures on a day like this, but it is also important that we recognise where we lead the world, and there are some aspects in which we do. It is important not just that this information is available to those who participate in the work of the intelligence agencies, but that the public can see it and that the kind of debates we are having can be held in public.

On the hon. Gentleman’s second point, he will understand that Jack Straw, who was Foreign Secretary at that time, was an individual defendant in this case. I have made it clear that the claim against him has been dropped and there is no further pursuit of those allegations. I understand that Jack Straw will make his own statement later today. The points I have made are about the system more broadly, as are the points made by the hon. Gentleman. In relation to the system more broadly, it is important that we make what changes we can to ensure that we have the safeguards that we need to get as close as we can to a position in which we can answer the questions that Joanna Cherry asked earlier, in the most absolute terms that we can give.