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Binyam Mohamed

Volume 506: debated on Monday 22 February 2010

The Foreign Secretary said that our most basic values as a nation are at stake here. I agree. It is only by getting to the truth about all this that we can bring closure to the whole sorry episode that is now called extraordinary rendition and in which the UK appears to have allowed itself to become complicit in kidnapping and torture. Indeed, a judge in another case said that we had facilitated a rendition, so the issue of facilitation, in principle, is no longer in doubt. Given all that, will the Foreign Secretary now finally discuss with the Prime Minister the need for a judge-led inquiry, which is supported by Lord Carlile, who is the Government’s own anti-terrorism watchdog, the Leader of the Opposition and the Liberal Democrats, as well as many others?

[Official Report, 10 February 2010, Vol. 505, c. 923-924.]

Letter of correction from Mr. David Miliband:

I am concerned to clarify a potential confusion in one sentence of my answer to the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Tyrie) on 10 February 2010. It concerns the difference between “rendition” and “extraordinary rendition”, the former of which can be lawful (e.g. when someone is transferred to safety) and the latter of which is unreservedly to be condemned because it normally is understood to mean a transfer where there is a real risk of torture. I would not want my attempt to distinguish the process of rendition, or extraordinary rendition, from torture, to lead to confusion between rendition and extraordinary rendition.

The full statement made by me was as follows:

I am interested to hear that the Leader of the Opposition is recommitting himself to a judicial inquiry—I shall pursue it with Opposition Front-Bench Members to see whether it is the case. The Government have discussed whether a judicial inquiry would be right, but have concluded that it would not be right, not least because the judicial system in this country is performing a very effective function in the courts, which is where it belongs. I also want to put it on the record that a dangerous confusion is emerging between rendition—sometimes called extraordinary rendition—and torture. They are not the same thing, although both are reprehensible and contrary to the laws and spirit of this country. However, it is important that we do not confuse the two. In Mr. Mohamed's case, there are allegations that he was subject to both, but they are not the same; they are separate. However, they are both wrong and they both need to be addressed fully. In respect of the hon. Gentleman's main point, however, I do not think that the conclusion to be drawn from today's events is that a judicial inquiry is necessary; I draw the conclusion that the judiciary is performing its function extremely vigilantly.

The correct statement should have been:

I am interested to hear that the Leader of the Opposition is recommitting himself to a judicial inquiry—I shall pursue it with Opposition Front-Bench Members to see whether it is the case. The Government have discussed whether a judicial inquiry would be right, but have concluded that it would not be right, not least because the judicial system in this country is performing a very effective function in the courts, which is where it belongs. I also want to put it on the record that a dangerous confusion is emerging between extraordinary rendition and torture. They are not the same thing, although both are reprehensible and contrary to the laws and spirit of this country. However, it is important that we do not confuse the two. In Mr. Mohamed's case, there are allegations that he was subject to both, but they are not the same; they are separate. However, they are both wrong and they both need to be addressed fully. In respect of the hon. Gentleman's main point, however, I do not think that the conclusion to be drawn from today's events is that a judicial inquiry is necessary; I draw the conclusion that the judiciary is performing its function extremely vigilantly.