High Court to review CPS decision in Libyan renditions case

February 19, 2017

Image of Abdul-hakim Belhaj

The High Court will hear a challenge to the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision not to prosecute an ex-MI6 director over a family’s rendition to Colonel Gaddafi’s torture chambers in 2004.

Last year, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Allison Saunders, announced that no UK official would face charges over the joint MI6-CIA rendition of Libyan dissident Abdul Hakim Belhaj and his heavily pregnant wife Fatima Boudchar, from Kuala Lumpur to Tripoli.

The CPS took two years to decide that it would not charge the lead suspect, ex-MI6 counter-terror director Sir Mark Allen, due to ‘insufficient evidence’. The CPS did however find that Sir Mark was involved in the renditions and had “sought political authority for some of his actions.”

The decision was taken despite London’s Metropolitan Police providing a file of over 28,000 pages of evidence. The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has since confirmed that the Met sought “to demonstrate that the conduct of a British official amounted to misconduct in public office.”

International human rights group Reprieve and law firm Leigh Day, who are representing the victims, filed a judicial review of the CPS decision in October 2016. The High Court has now said that this will proceed to a ‘rolled-up hearing’ later this year.

The significant move looks set to shed more light on Britain’s central role in the rendition of Belhaj and Boudchar. The case first came to light after the fall of Gaddafi in 2011, when Human Rights Watch found documents in Tripoli showing Sir Mark taking credit for the operation – in which he colluded with the CIA and Libyan intelligence.

The judicial review argues that the decision of Director of Public Prosecutions “erred in law” and “reached a conclusion that was inconsistent with the evidence.”

Commenting, Cori Crider, a lawyer for the rendition victims from human rights organisation Reprieve, said:

“The CPS decision not to charge anyone for these abductions never made sense. They looked away from a mountain of evidence and just plain got the law wrong – Mr Belhaj and his wife felt the CPS were straining to excuse the suspect, MI6’s Sir Mark Allen, at any price. If Britain’s security services can help the CIA abduct children and a pregnant woman with absolutely no sanction, what is to stop some ambitious MI6 officer doing it again for Donald Trump? We’re delighted that the CPS’s mystifying decision will be tested in court. Britain’s security services cannot be above the law.”


Notes to editors

1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] reprieve.org.uk. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] reprieve.org