Jack Straw uses Official Secrets defence for allegations of conspiracy in 'torture' case
00:46 GMT, 30 December 2012
Jack Straw is using the Official Secrets Act to defend himself in court over allegations of conspiracy in the torture of a Libyan national and his family.
The revelation that the former Foreign Secretary is relying on secrecy laws has provoked allegations of a cover-up over the scandal of Britain’s alleged involvement in the kidnap and handover of Libyan dissidents to Colonel Gaddafi.
Abdel Hakim Belhadj is suing the British Government, its intelligence agencies, Mr Straw and MI6 spy Mark Allen for allegedly helping to transfer him and his family to Libya, where they say they were tortured.
Jack Straw (pictured on the Today show) is using the Official Secrets Act as a defence in court
Mr Belhadj, now a Libyan politician, and his wife were seized in Malaysia in 2004 and flown to Tripoli on a CIA jet. The ‘rendition’ took place just weeks before then Prime Minister Tony Blair signed the ‘deal in the desert’ that reinstated diplomatic and trade links with Gaddafi.
But papers lodged at the High Court show that Mr Straw and Mr Allen have cited the Official Secrets Act, saying it prevents them from presenting a full defence.
Lawyers for Mr Belhadj argue that British court cases are littered with examples of witnesses who have signed the Act but have been able to give evidence in court. Mr Belhadj accuses Mr Straw of misleading MPs over Britain’s involvement in the rendition.
Abdel Hakim Belhadj and his family were transported to Libya where he says they were tortured. The 'rendition' took place just weeks before Tony Blair met with Gaddafi
In 2005, Mr Straw told the Commons there was ‘simply no truth’ in claims that the UK was involved in rendition, branding them ‘conspiracy theories’.
A Foreign Office spokesman said the Government was ‘co-operating fully with investigations into allegations made by former Libyan detainees’. He added: ‘A police investigation is under way, so we are unable to comment further.’
The spokesman said an independent judge-led inquiry into the allegations would be held after the court case.