UK Prosecutors face legal challenge over no-charge decision in MI6 renditions case

November 2, 2016

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Lawyers at international human rights organisation Reprieve and partners have filed a legal challenge against the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) decision not to bring charges over the abduction and torture of Libyan families.

The CPS announced earlier this year that it would not charge former senior officials in the British Government over the 2004 operation, which saw two families – including a pregnant woman and four children aged 12 and under – kidnapped and ‘rendered’ to Colonel Gaddafi’s prisons.

Britain’s central role in the rendition of the Belhaj and al-Saadi families had emerged after the fall of Gaddafi in 2011, when documents were found in Tripoli showing MI6’s Sir Mark Allen, then head of counter-terrorism, taking credit for the operation – in which he colluded with the CIA and Libyan intelligence.

London’s Metropolitan Police spent over two years investigating, providing a file of over 28,000 pages of evidence to the CPS in June 2014.  However, two years later, the CPS announced that it would not charge the lead suspect (Sir Mark) due to ‘insufficient evidence’ – although it conceded that he was involved in the renditions and had “sought political authority for some of his actions.”

Abdul Hakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar are now bringing a judicial review against the CPS’ decision, arguing that the decision of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) “erred in law” and “reached a conclusion that was inconsistent with the evidence.”

In a separate development, a new statement by the Mayor of London has suggested for the first time that the police did recommend that a charge of “misconduct in public office” be brought as a result of their investigation, codenamed ‘Operation Lydd.’  Answering a question from London Assembly member Andrew Dismore, Mayor Sadiq Khan said last month that

“The Metropolitan Police submitted a comprehensive file of evidence (in excess of 28,000 pages) to the Crown Prosecution Service seeking to demonstrate that the conduct of a British official amounted to Misconduct in Public Office.”

Commenting, Cori Crider, a lawyer at Reprieve representing the rendition victims said: “The abduction of these two families – including two women and four children, the youngest just six – was such an appalling crime that even the head of MI5 wrote to Prime Minister Tony Blair to protest. So why did the CPS overrule the police, which we now know recommended that the lead suspect be charged? The government should either apologize—as the families have asked for five years—or answer in court for their shabby treatment of these abducted families.”


Notes to editors

1. For further information, or to request copies of the relevant legal documents, please contact Reprieve on +44 (0) 207 553 8140

2. The Guardian has reported that a row between MI5 and MI6 over the latter’s role in renditions saw Eliza Manningham-Buller (then Director of MI5) write to Prime Minister Tony Blair to protest.  She also reportedly had MI6 staff banned from working at Thames House: