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Parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC) yesterday sought access to secret parts of the damning US report into post-September 11 CIA tactics amid allegations of British involvement in torture.
Committee chairman Sir Malcolm Rifkind confirmed yesterday that it would request sight of any redacted sections of the Senate intelligence committee’s findings related to Britain’s role in the rendition and interrogation of terror suspects.
Downing Street has confirmed that British spies spoke to their US counterparts to discuss blacking out some sections but insisted talks related only to “national security grounds” and were not intended to cover up British complicity in torture.
The revelation of 23 meetings between members of the Senate committee and senior British figures — ambassadors to Washington and then security minister Admiral Lord West — helped fuel demands for a full investigation.
Lord West, who was previously chief of defence intelligence, has acknowledged it was possible individual British spies in the field knew what US counterparts were doing to detainees but denied lobbying the committee over the issue.
Mr Rifkind said it was for the US to decide whether to supply his inquiry with the material.
Former home secretary Alan Johnson called for both Jack Straw and Tony Blair to go before the committee.
Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, he added: “It is right the intelligence and security committee see what was redacted so they can be sure this was to protect sources, British agents in the field.
“I’m absolutely convinced that what was redacted was what the Home Office says they wanted redacted.”
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said she doubted the ISC had “the capacity and the scope” to carry out an inquiry and it remained her “instinct” that a judge-led process would still be required to ensure confidence.
Policy director Isabella Sankey of human rights group Liberty said: “Torture is torture — it’s unjustifiable, no matter how many or how few people knew it was happening.
“Anyone, anywhere, who was complicit in these crimes must face prosecution but until our government sets up a transparent, judicial inquiry, cover-up and official impunity will persist.”
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