Central Intelligence Agency (Rendition Flights)

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Justice and Law Officers – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 1st March 2007.

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Photo of Mark Ballard Mark Ballard Green 2:15 pm, 1st March 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will carry out an investigation into CIA rendition flights, in light of the recent report of the European Parliament. (S2O-12186)

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

Aviation and foreign affairs are both areas that are the reserved responsibility of the United Kingdom Government. The investigation of crime, including the collection of evidence, is a matter for the police. If there is specific, credible information that a crime has been committed in Scotland, it is for the police to investigate. If they secure sufficient evidence for criminal proceedings to be considered, the police will report the result of their investigation to the procurator fiscal.

Photo of Mark Ballard Mark Ballard Green

I thank the minister for that answer, although her response reinforces the part of the report that accuses member states of turning a blind eye.

In light of the report, will the minister advise police forces to take a more proactive approach to ensure that our airports are not being used to facilitate rendition flights? In short, will police forces take active steps to deter and prevent crime, instead of refusing to investigate possible crimes after the event?

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

Again, I stress that it is not for ministers to be involved in the investigation of crime. That is, rightly and properly, a matter for the police. Similarly, the issues around prosecution are, rightly and properly, a matter for our independent prosecution service. In a sense, I commend the tenacity with which Mark Ballard and his colleagues continue to ask the same question on the issue but, because things have not changed, I must give them broadly the same answer. If he and his colleagues have specific and credible information, they should take it to the police, who are the right and proper people to investigate.

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace Liberal Democrat

In December 2005, the Parliament agreed to a motion on the issue, which I think the minister supported and which I seem to recall encouraged more of a joint approach between Scottish ministers and the UK Government. Will the minister give us a flavour of those discussions, and tell us when they last took place?

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

I remember those discussions in the Parliament. The issue has not been discussed directly by me and current Home Office ministers—in recent times.



Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

I make that important point before people misinterpret what I am about to say.

I can assure Mr Wallace that I take the issue seriously. I understand public concern about it, which is why it is important that we continue to work with our UK colleagues not only to ensure that if a crime is being committed on Scottish soil, it is appropriately dealt with, but to send a clear message that it is not something that in any circumstances we would condone.