Following on from the Urgent Question this week on rendition, where the Cabinet Secretary pledged to provide further information on a potential judge-led inquiry on rendition, we received a statement from the UK Government that they will not be undertaking such an inquiry.
Earlier this week I stated that the restriction of evidence to the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) – of which I am a member – meant that we had to draw to a close our own investigation on rendition.
I wanted the Minister to state clearly for the record that it is the choice of Committees who they request evidence from and not the government. Sadly, the Minister refused this and reiterated that the Government had the right to restrict access to witnesses.
The Intelligence and Security Committee – on which I sit – is the committee that scrutinises and holds the UK Government to account for its action over national security issues.
We previously undertook an investigation into rendition but had to conclude it as the UK Government refused our access to certain witnesses. We expect the news of a judge led inquiry into rendition should be announced in the next few days.
I asked the de facto Deputy Prime Minister if this judge led inquiry would have access to all witnesses including the ones that our committee could not hear from. The Minister did not reply to the details of my question but said he was listening to my challenge.
I was selected by the Leader of the Labour Party and the Prime Minister to sit on the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC). This committee sits in private, unlike all other committees, as we hold the Government and our security services to account for actions they have taken. We must consider documents with the highest security to do this.
You may have seen the ISC produced a report into rendition and the UK’s involvement following the atrocious terrorist attacks in the US on 9/11. Our report noted a number of concerns about the UK’s monitoring of the situation and lack of support for our security service personnel. At this urgent question I wanted to know what would happen if a judge led inquiry was allowed to take place.