My Lords, the Home Secretary referred the question of possible criminal wrongdoing to me on
My Lords, whatever decisions are made about individual criminal prosecutions of particular offences, is not the noble and learned Baroness aware of the widespread concern about the allegations of complicity and knowledge of these events by the Government as a whole? Does she therefore agree that now is the time for the Government to institute a general inquiry into those matters as well as the individual proceedings against individuals?
My Lords, I think that the most appropriate course has been taken. Noble Lords will know that this matter came before the Divisional Court, which had an opportunity to consider what steps should be taken. Before its decision, an indication was given to it by counsel that the Government had taken the decision to refer the matters to me. The court took the view that, because of my constitutional role as an independent Minister of Justice in these circumstances, the most appropriate thing was that the Government should do that which they did. The court derived great comfort from that, as is clear from the judgment. I think that the right thing has been done and I intend to discharge my duty without fear or favour.
My Lords, may I press the Minister a little further on the scope of her inquiries into the matters arising from the case of Mr Binyam Mohamed? Is she considering cases that go beyond Mr Binyam Mohamed? If she has not had terms of reference set by any other member of the Government, will she tell us what terms she has set herself and whether she is willing to publish them?
My Lords, as I have indicated, no terms of reference have been given to me and, if I may respectfully say so, that is proper. When an Attorney-General, whatever their political complexion, turns over these issues, they do so absolutely independently. It will be my duty to look at these issues and to consider whether it is right to invite the police to investigate this matter. That is what I will do.
My Lords, I think that it is the turn of the Liberal Democrats.
My Lords, with respect to the Attorney-General, whose independence I do not question, may I ask her to consider one aspect of the time that has been taken to reach a conclusion about the allegations made? Ministers both in this House and in another place have repeatedly given assurances about torture and rendition that appear to be in conflict with the evidence that has now emerged from the United States and the evidence that has emerged from the High Court's recent consideration of the case of Binyam Mohamed. Will the Attorney-General therefore consider the damage that is being done to this country's reputation and to Parliament as a consequence of what appears to be a sheer conflict of evidence coming from the United States and this country?
My Lords, of course I understand the anxieties that have arisen as a result of this matter, which is delicate, sensitive and needs to be thoroughly investigated. The papers that have been sent to me to be reviewed are comprehensive; they are the papers that went before the court. I have set out the issues in the letter that I wrote to Mr Dismore, who is the chair of the committee in the other place. I appreciate the facts, which is why I intend to ensure that the most careful scrutiny and attention are given to this matter. I do not demur at all from all those who say that this is an extremely important issue.
My Lords, the Intelligence and Security Committee will of course deal with the matters referred to it. I shall deal with the matters that have been entrusted to me.
My Lords, I believe that the proper course has been taken by the Government. I believe that the proper course, once I have concluded my inquiry into this matter, is that I should report to Parliament, which is what I will do.
My Lords, that is wide of the Question. The right reverend Prelate will know that Mr Binyam Mohamed was not a national of this country but was resident here for a period previously. It was on that basis that we made quite strenuous representations on his behalf to the United States.