LEGAL action charity Reprieve accused the government of changing its story yet again yesterday over the fate of potentially compromising flight records relating to Britain’s role in the United States’ rendition programme.
Reprieve is seeking access to documents relating to US rendition flights passing through the British territory of Diego Garcia.
In 2008, after years of denials, the British government admitted that Diego Garcia had been used as a stop-off for two rendition flights.
However, in July the government informed Parliament that flight records for Diego Garcia were “incomplete due to water damage.”
A week later, on July 15, Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds told the Commons that “previously wet paper records have been dried out … no flight records have been lost as a result of the water damage.”
But yesterday the government’s position appeared to shift again with the confirmation in a statement given to the Commons foreign affairs committee that immigration records relating to civilians landing on the island have been destroyed.
Reprieve argues that, although there is no indication of the identities of the civilians concerned, such records are potentially significant as they could relate to the civilian CIA agents who operated the “rendition” flights.
Legal director at Reprieve Cori Crider said: “This is the second time the government has changed its story on the destruction of what is potentially evidence of CIA renditions via Diego Garcia.
“People will rightly draw the conclusion that the government still has something to hide when it comes to the UK’s role in supporting CIA torture flights.”