Detainee Mistreatment: Judge-Led Inquiry

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:41 pm on 15th July 2019.

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Photo of Emily Thornberry Emily Thornberry Shadow Foreign Secretary 3:41 pm, 15th July 2019

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting this urgent question. I thank the Father of the House for securing it and for being so diligent on this issue. He has spoken with typical lucidity on this matter, and I agree with everything he has said, particularly about the unfortunate long grassing.

There is no need for me to repeat what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has already said concerning the constraints that were placed on a nevertheless damning report from the Intelligence and Security Committee. He rightly says that the only way to lift those constraints is to authorise a judge-led inquiry where all the witnesses can be called and all the evidence examined so that finally we can get to the full truth about the historical allegations of torture and rendition that took place under a Labour Government and about the operation of secret courts established by the current Government under the Justice and Security Act 2013.

The inquiry would be for the benefit of all future Governments, whichever party is in charge, as it would enable us all to truly learn the lessons from what has happened and to put in place new procedures and any necessary changes to the consolidated guidance so that we can absolutely guarantee that these abuses will never happen again. The reason it is so urgent is that in fewer than 10 days we will have a new Government in charge led by a Prime Minister who has proven by his actions not just as Foreign Secretary but also on the debate stage last week that he cannot be trusted to stand up to Donald Trump—a President who, let us not forget, has publicly said that he believes that water boarding and other forms of torture are effective and that we have to “fight fire with fire”. If we have a new Prime Minister who is willing to throw our ambassadors under the bus, we must have new procedures in place to stop that Prime Minister allowing our Government once again to be in danger of becoming complicit in torture and rendition by the United States or any other country to whom he kowtows.

I am glad to hear that there will be a further statement, and hopefully that statement will include a decision by the Prime Minister, but will the Minister tell the Prime Minister to establish the inquiry that we were promised seven years ago in the next week and to provide at least one fitting legacy from her time in office and one necessary protection for the country from the recklessness of her successor?