Azara Blog: UK government cannot use evidence that might have been obtained by torture

Blog home page | Blog archive

Google   Bookmark and Share

Date published: 2005/12/08

The BBC says:

Secret evidence that might have been obtained by torture cannot be used against terror suspects in UK courts, the law lords have ruled.

The decision means the cases of eight detainees facing deportation are expected to be reconsidered by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission.

It is a victory for eight men who had been held without charge.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke accepted the ruling but said it would have "no bearing" on efforts to combat terror.

He said the government did not use evidence it knew or suspected had been obtained by torture but the ruling had clarified the appropriate legal test of what was admissable.

Thursday's ruling centres on how far the government must go to show improper methods if obtaining information from suspects have not been used.

The Court of Appeal ruled last year that such evidence could be used if UK authorities had no involvement.

But eight of the 10 foreign terror suspects who were being held without charge, backed by human rights groups, challenged that ruling.

They argued evidence obtained in US detention camps should be excluded from court hearings.

It is thought some of the eight men are being held in Belmarsh or other high security prisons, pending deportation, some released on bail and others restricted by the government's new control orders. The Home Office will not confirm precise figures.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) must now investigate whether evidence against the suspects facing deportation was obtained by torture.
Lord Bingham, the former Lord Chief Justice, who headed the panel of seven law lords, said English law had abhorred "torture and its fruits" for more than 500 years.

"I am startled, even a little dismayed, at the suggestion (and the acceptance by the Court of Appeal majority) that this deeply-rooted tradition and an international obligation solemnly and explicitly undertaken can be overridden by a statute and a procedural rule which make no mention of torture at all," he said.

Another member of the panel, Lord Carswell, said allowing evidence from torture to be used would "involve the state in moral defilement".

Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of the government's terrorism laws, said the ruling reaffirmed the law as most lawyers had assumed it to be.

A major blow to the Blair dictatorship agenda and no wonder he wants to get rid of the Law Lords. It is a sad spectacle that the unelected Lords are the last bastion of freedom in the UK. And even ignoring the principles at stake, on the practical side, evidence obtained under torture is completely unreliable. The Blair government has an unfortunate habit of relying on unreliable evidence while pretending it is dead certain, and not only to lock innocent people up but of course to start the illegal war in Iraq. Will Brown or Cameron do a better job at promoting civil liberties in Britain? Unlikely. Blair is just a fairly typical representative of the current sad lot of politicians ruling the country.

All material not included from other sources is copyright For further information or questions email: info [at] cambridge2000 [dot] com (replace "[at]" with "@" and "[dot]" with ".").