Reprieve welcomes Gordon Brown’s announcement on intelligence-gathering and new ISC report on Binyam Mohamed

March 18, 2009

Image of Binyam Mohammed

Reprieve welcomes the British government’s decision to publish guidance issued to intelligence officers and military personnel on the questioning of detainees held overseas, and the news that intelligence Services Commissioner Sir Peter Gibson will monitor compliance and report annually.

1) Government to publish guidance on intelligence-gathering

“We are pleased that the Prime Minister is addressing the question of UK security services complicity in torture,” said Reprieve Executive Director Clare Algar. “It has been in the news for weeks, so it is right that he has stepped up to the mark. However his plan of action is far from adequate.

“The Prime Minister states that he wants to restore public faith in the security services. He is therefore asking the Intelligence and Security Committee, which oversees the work of the intelligence services, to draw up new guidelines – all overseen by the Intelligence Services Commissioner.

“First, this seems to be a tacit admission that the existing guidelines are inadequate. Exactly how will the new guidelines differ from those currently in place?

“Secondly, this is a textbook case of the fox guarding the hen-house. The Prime Minister is trusting people who are deeply involved in the security services to check their conduct. It is ludicrous to suggest that this will restore public confidence.

“The government has a poor record on obfuscation and misleading the public on this issue. The only way to restore credibility is to launch a full independent and transparent inquiry, which operates wholly apart from government interests.”

2) ISC reopens investigation into renditions following ’fresh’ evidence on Binyam Mohamed

Reprieve is delighted that the Intelligence and Security Committee has reopened its investigation into rendition following allegations surrounding Reprieve client Binyam Mohamed. It has taken fresh “in depth” evidence and made a series of recommendations to Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Reprieve director Clive Stafford Smith said:

“We thank the ISC for urging the government to review the case of our client Binyam Mohamed, and for their vigilance in re-opening their investigation.”

“We at Reprieve believe that the ‘fresh’ evidence seen by the ISC will confirm what Binyam has been telling us for years: that MI5 were complicit in his torture.

“It is now overwhelmingly clear that this issue will not simply go away. The British government has no choice but to come clean – the sooner the better.”

“We urge, once more, a fully independent inquiry. Only an independent investigation can restore the reputation of the British Secret Services at home and abroad.”

Reprieve lawyers are available for comment today. Please contact Katherine O’Shea on +44 20 74271099 or email


Reprieve is a legal action charity, founded by Clive Stafford Smith in 1999. Reprieve uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. We investigate, litigate and educate. Working on the frontline, we provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves, promoting the rule of law around the world, and securing each person’s right to a fair trial. In doing so, we save lives.

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