The Government stands firmly against torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. We do not condone it, nor do we ask others to do it on our behalf. The Government is committed to ensuring that serious allegations made about the role the UK played in the past in the treatment of detainees held by other countries and in the illegal transfer of detainees from one country to another are examined thoroughly and lessons learned. In July 2010, the Prime Minister established an independent Detainee Inquiry to examine whether, and if so to what extent, the UK Government and its intelligence agencies were involved in the improper treatment or rendition of detainees held by other countries in counter-terrorism operations overseas, or were aware of the improper treatment or rendition of detainees in operations in which the UK was involved. Its particular focus was to be on the immediate aftermath of the attacks of 11 September 2001 and those cases involving the detention of UK nationals and residents in Guantánamo Bay.
In establishing the inquiry under the chairmanship of Sir Peter Gibson, a former Court of Appeal judge, the Government made clear that it would not be able formally to start its work until all related police investigations into detainee allegations had been concluded. The inquiry embarked on an extensive programme of preparatory work in the meantime. In the event, the police investigations took longer to complete than expected and the launch of a new police investigation in January into allegations made by two former Libyan detainees led the Government to conclude that it was not going to be possible to get the inquiry under way in the foreseeable future. As a result, the Government announced on 18 January that it had decided to bring the work of the inquiry to a conclusion and had asked Sir Peter Gibson to provide a report on the inquiry’s preparatory work, highlighting particular themes or issues that might warrant further examination.
The then Justice Secretary made a statement to Parliament on 17 July to say the inquiry had sent its report to the Prime Minister and that the Government was looking carefully at its contents and remained committed to publishing as much of its findings as possible. Since then, officials have been working with the inquiry panel to agree a report for publication.
The Government fully intends to hold an independent, judge-led inquiry when the police investigations are completed. In the meantime, we are cooperating fully with the police investigations.