Clegg hints at torture inquiry

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg
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THE TRUTH about Britain’s role in US torture may have to come out in a full judicial inquiry, the deputy prime minister has said.

Nick Clegg has indicated he would back a formal inquiry if either the police or a Commons select committee investigation into British complicity in torture claims do not provide all the answers.

Mr Clegg’s comments were prompted by the publication of a damning report into the interrogation of detainees by America’s CIA, sparking renewed calls for a more detailed examination of Britain’s role in the rendition of terror suspects.

They came as it emerged the UK discussed with US sources redactions to the controversial US report looking at the interrogation work of the CIA.

In a rare press conference last night, CIA Director John Brennan said some of the agency’s interrogation methods after 9/11 were “abhorrent”.

But he insisted that overall the interrogation programme implemented after the 2001 attacks helped save lives.

Speaking at CIA headquarters, Mr Brennan admitted some officers acted beyond their authority and should have been held accountable.

He asserted the CIA “did a lot of things right” in a time when there were “no easy answers” and there were fears of more attacks from al-Qaeda.

Mr Clegg said during his weekly LBC radio phone-in: “Once the police investigations are done, once the report from the Intelligence and Security Committee is done, we should keep an open mind if we need to about moving to a full judicial inquiry if there are any outstanding questions.

“I’m like anybody else: I want the truth out there.”

He went on: “However shocking the Senate committee report is, it’s worth remembering that I doubt very much any state run by Isil or al Qaida would ever have the maturity to lift the lid on its own mistakes in the way a mature democracy like America has done.”

Mr Clegg said the Senate committee report included the “devastating assertion that it (torture) didn’t actually keep us safe” and may in fact have led to resources being wasted on false trails.

Asked whether Britain had asked for details of UK activities to be blacked out - or “redacted” - from the US report, a Number 10 spokeswoman said: “My understanding is that no redactions were sought to remove any suggestion that there was UK involvement in any illegal torture or rendition.

“There was a conversation between the agencies and their US counterparts on the executive summary. Any redactions there would have been on national security grounds.”

A UK inquiry by judge Sir Peter Gibson was halted pending police inquiries but raised 27 areas requiring further investigation, ranging from interrogation techniques to so-called “rendition flights”, the training of agents and ministerial oversight of the agencies.

They are now being examined by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) - a move which campaigners argue is insufficiently independent.

Downing Street said the ISC should be allowed to get on with its work, which is due to conclude next year, and then “let’s see what they say and what’s needed”.

And Labour leader Ed Miliband defended his brother David - a former foreign secretary - over his handling of the issue in office.

Prime Minister David Cameron has declared himself “satisfied that our system is dealing with all these issues”.