30 Oct 2014

No state immunity for Jack Straw, MI5 and MI6 in rendition case

The Government and the security services have suffered a significant defeat in attempts to avoid a trial over complicity in the imprisonment, rendition and torture of a Libyan couple in 2004.

The Court of Appeal ruled neither the former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw nor the former Mi6 senior officer Sir Mark Allen could be covered by state immunity.

The judges gave the green light for Abdul- Hakin Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar to sue over their abduction, in a secret Mi6/CIA operation, to Tripoli where they were tortured.

Cori Cryder, a director at Repreive which campaigns for prisoners around the world, said the Government’s delaying tactics cannot be sustained: “We are seeking to go to trial now. It’s the government that’s seeking to avoid the trial.”

“I think what this is really about is they’re seeking to avoid an embarrassing dispute between the old guard of new Labour – Jack Straw – and the former senior people in MI6 – Sir Mark Allen and others – over who has to take the rap over putting pregnant ladies on rendition planes.”

In 2013, Mr Belhaj offered to drop his case for £3, an apology and an admission of liability, but this was not accepted. In a letter sent to Prime Minister David Cameron, Mr Straw, and Sir Mark, he said: “I am making an open offer to settle our litigation.

“My wife and I are willing to end our case against the UK Government and Messrs Straw and Allen in exchange for a token compensation of a British pound from each defendant, an apology and an admission of liability for what was done to us.”

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