On 28 June 2018, the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC) published its detainee mistreatment and rendition reports. Today, the Government are publishing their response.
The Government are grateful for the extensive investigation that the Committee has undertaken into detainee matters and have now considered the conclusions and recommendations set out in its reports.
The Committee found no evidence indicating that UK personnel directly carried out physical mistreatment of detainees. Nor did it find any evidence that any rendition flights transited the UK with a detainee on board. The Committee’s report does state that two detainees are known to have transited through the British overseas territory of Diego Garcia. This fact was originally reported to the House by the then Foreign Secretary in February 2008.
The Committee has said that it was unable to take evidence from some witnesses operating overseas at the time. The Government engaged as fully as possible with the ISC, within the terms of its memorandum of understanding. They spent many thousands of hours reviewing corporate records and disclosed all relevant documents amounting to thousands of pages, and Ministers and senior officials concerned gave many hours of oral evidence. Parliamentary Committees do not ordinarily seek evidence from junior officials and the Government believe they were right in asking only senior officials to speak to the events set out in the documentary record provided to the ISC.
In a specific case, the Committee found evidence suggesting that UK personnel were directly involved in detainee mistreatment administered by others and that this had not been fully investigated. The Ministry of Defence has asked the service police legacy investigations team to consider whether further investigation is required.
In the light of the ISC’s reports, the Government have asked Sir Adrian Fulford, the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, to consider how the consolidated guidance could be improved, taking account of the Committee’s views and those of civil society. He has since conducted a public consultation and the Government look forward to receiving his proposals in due course.
The Government continue to give serious consideration to the examination of detainee issues and whether any more lessons can be learned, and, if so, how.
Copies of the response have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses (Cm 9724).