Letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown querying his failure to fulfil his promise to release secret intelligence policy

November 18, 2009

Clive Stafford Smith asks why, after eight months, the Government has failed to release the guidance given to Security Service agents on how to deal with evidence of torture abroad.

This letter was sent on Tuesday 17th November 2009.

Dear Prime Minister:

As you know, it was the abuse of our client Binyam Mohamed that precipitated some soul searching concerning the official policies that govern intelligence officers.

I note that the Intelligence & Security Committee (ISC) website carries the following complaint (I suppose is the only description) concerning the Government’s failure to fulfill its promise made eight months ago:.

16 September 2009: On 18 March 2009 the Prime Minister made a Written Ministerial Statement on Detainees. He said:

“we will publish our guidance to intelligence officers and service personnel about the standards that we apply during the detention and interviewing of detainees overseas once it has been consolidated and reviewed by the Intelligence and Security Committee. It is right that Parliament and the public should know what those involved in interviewing detainees can and cannot do. This will put beyond doubt the terms under which our agencies and service personnel operate…. In order to ensure that our systems are robust and to be certain that any lessons have been understood, I have asked the Intelligence and Security Committee to consider any new developments and relevant information, since their 2005 Report on Detention (Cm 6469) and their 2007 Report on Rendition (Cm 7171), building on the follow-up work that they have already undertaken.”

By way of clarification, the Cabinet Office confirmed that they would consolidate the guidance before submission to us.

Despite repeated requests, this guidance has still not been provided by the Cabinet Office. Therefore we are not yet able to begin our investigation.

See http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/intelligence.aspx

I am assuming that since this remains on the ISC website, the situation has not changed. This is of great concern. The implication of your March 18 statement is that everything was ready for ISC review at once, and it would simply be a matter it being “consolidated and reviewed by the Intelligence and Security Committee.”

To learn that no contact had been made with the ISC months later is shocking. While I had been waiting patiently to review this material, the time for patience seems long past – for Mr Mohamed as well as the ISC.

Please would you respond to this letter within seven (7) days informing me when we can expect to review this policy. If I do not hear in that time, we will naturally be forced to consider our legal options.

Yours sincerely,

Clive Stafford Smith

Director, Reprieve

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