By politics.co.uk staff
MI5's former head Eliza Manningham-Buller did not know about the waterboarding of 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed until 2007, she has claimed.
The CIA admitted that Mohammed had been waterboarded 183 times last year. Before then, Lady Manningham-Buller told a select audience in the House of Lords last night, she had no idea that this interrogation technique had been used.
"I said to my staff, 'Why is he talking?' because our experience of Irish prisoners, Irish terrorists, was that they never said anything," she said.
"They said, well, the Americans say he is very proud of his achievements when questioned about it. It wasn't actually until after I retired that I read that, in fact, he had been waterboarded 160 times."
Her unprompted intervention in the debate over the extent to which the British government has colluded with the torturing of terror suspects comes before officials publish new guidance on interrogation techniques.
Campaigners have launched a legal attempt to force the government to publish the current advice, which ministers appear determined to avoid releasing.
Lady Manningham-Buller's comments serve as a distraction as she has shifted the focus to the behaviour of US officials, however.
She claimed yesterday that they were "very keen to conceal from us what was happening" during her time as head of MI5 from 2002 to 2007.
Her predecessor Jonathan Evans has denied outright any collusion with countries which torture terror suspects.