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British Armed Forces: Independent Inquiry Related to Afghanistan

Volume 735: debated on Wednesday 5 July 2023

As announced to the House on 15 December 2022, I commissioned the right hon. Lord Justice Haddon-Cave to chair an independent statutory inquiry under the 2005 Inquiries Act to investigate and report on alleged unlawful activity by British Armed Forces during deliberate detention operations (DDO) in Afghanistan in the period mid-2010 to mid-2013, and the adequacy of subsequent investigations into such allegations.

It is right that the Ministry of Defence continues to balance the requirement to be as open and transparent as possible against national security considerations. The inquiry is now reaching the stage of substantive hearings, and I can confirm that the allegations relate to the conduct of UK special forces.

This confirmation is made in the exceptional circumstances of this inquiry, where the activities of this organisation are the central focus of the inquiry’s investigation, as set out in its terms of reference. Outside of this very specific context, such confirmation should not be seen to alter the longstanding position of this Government, and previous Governments, to not comment on the deployment or activities of the UK special forces. I remain steadfast in this for the protection of those involved and our national security.