UK’s Boris Johnson refuses to rule out cooperation with Trump torture

January 10, 2017

Image of an electric chair

The British Foreign Secretary has refused to respond to questions in Parliament over whether the UK will cooperate with a revived US torture program – as proposed by President-elect Trump.

Boris Johnson, who met with members of Mr Trump’s team in the last few days, was asked in the House of Commons whether he made clear to them the British position against torture.  Mr Trump has said he intends to revive waterboarding “and a hell of a lot worse” on taking office.

However, Mr Johnson refused to answer on the basis that “we do not discuss intelligence matters.”  This claim appears to be at odds with numerous previous statements the UK Government has made regarding intelligence and torture – including a public policy known as the ‘Consolidated Guidance,’ which deals specifically with how British intelligence officers should behave when working with other countries which practice torture. The Guidance was published by David Cameron’s government after several scandals over British involvement in CIA torture in the Bush era.

Today’s exchange at Foreign Affairs questions was as follows:

Alistair Carmichael MP: When the Foreign Secretary met the President-elect’s team, did he make it clear to them that the UK will not share intelligence with his administration, if his administration is to use it then in association with a revived US torture programme?

Boris Johnson MP: I’m sure the House will forgive me if I remind the right honourable gentleman we do not discuss intelligence matters or their operational nature.

Commenting, Cori Crider, a lawyer at international human rights organisation Reprieve said: “It’s just false to claim that the Government does not comment on torture – it has a 15-page, public policy document devoted to exactly this issue. It had to publish the document given the uproar over our complicity in torture last time.  The alarming conclusion is that the Government is gearing up to sell out British values in order to get close to torture enthusiast Donald Trump.  If so, ministers have learned nothing from the disaster of the Bush era, when the UK shamefully collaborated in the kidnap and abuse of men, women and children.”