Inquiry launched into Mohamed torture claims

By Ian Dunt

A full-scale criminal inquiry into the allegations of torture surrounding British resident Binyam Mohamed has been launched by the attorney general.

The Baroness Scotland of Asthal announced the inquiry in the Commons this afternoon after looking into Mr Mohamed’s claims.

In a statement released to the media she said: “I have expressed to the commissioner [Met commissioner Sir Paul Stepheson] the hope the investigation can be carried forward as quickly as possible.”

The investigation will be conducted by the police with help from the Crown Prosecution Service.

Confirming the attorney general’s request today, New Scotland Yard released a statement saying: “A decision on how this will be taken forward will be made in due course.”

Home secretary Jacqui Smith said: “Whatever allegations of wrongdoing are made they are taken seriously, that’s why I asked the attorney general to look into this matter.

“You will understand that until the investment is completed I cannot comment further.”

Constitutionalists are still unsure of whether there is a precedent for a police investigation into MI5.

Certainly, the inquiry will put Jonathan Evans, currently director general of MI5 but head of counter terrorism at the time, in a difficult position.

Former British Guantanamo Bay inmate Moazzam Begg, who gave an interview to politics.co.uk in February calling for Mr Mohamed’s release, told the BBC: “It’s fantastic news.

“Binyam is not a British citizen, and yet all of this is coming out.”

Mr Mohamed, a British resident, was held at Guantanamo Bay from 2004 until earlier this year.

He claims he was detained in Pakistan before becoming the victim of extraordinary rendition and tortured extensively in Morocco and Afghanistan.

His lawyers say British security agencies were fully aware of his torture, and handed questions to the Moroccan authorities.

High court rulings have instructed the government to disclosed 42 documents rumoured to confirm claims that UK security agents were aware of Mr Mohamed’s treatment from American, Moroccan and Afghanistan torturers; going as far as to provide them with information for his interrogation.

Foreign secretary David Miliband strongly denied the claims in parliament, but did insist that the Pentagon had warned disclosure of the documents – already presented to Mr Mohamed’s legal team – could threaten intelligence cooperation between the two countries.

It later emerged that the foreign secretary had solicited a letter from the American authorities requesting this in writing.