08:58, June 28 291 0 theguardian.com

2018-06-28 08:58:30
What did Jack Straw know about the UK's role in torture and rendition?

After the release of damning reports into British involvement in the torture and kidnap of terrorism suspects after 9/11, the former foreign secretary Jack Straw said he had only learned for the first time from the reports about much of the security services’ activities – and painted some aspects as a vindication.

He said it “shows that where I was involved in decisions I consistently sought to ensure that the United Kingdom did act in accordance with its long-stated policies and international norms.”

Nonetheless, the detail in the parliamentary reports poses a number of difficult questions for Straw, who did not face the intelligence and security committee:

Why did you authorise the financing of a rendition operation in October 2004?

The reports explain that the British government and its intelligence agencies helped to finance three rendition operations. On one occasion, at least, Straw authorised the payment of “a large share” of the costs. He is certain to be asked to answer this if he gives any media interviews.

Who were the two victims, where were they sent and what happened to them on arrival?

The identities of the victims are hidden behind codenames in the reports, as are the place where they were kidnapped and the country to which they were taken. The committee says they were taken to a place where there was a “real risk of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”. He is highly unlikely to answer this question.

Why did you tell the foreign affairs committee the following year that anyone who believed the UK had been involved in rendition was a conspiracy theorist?

In December 2005 Straw told the Commons foreign affairs committee: “Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories and that the officials are lying, that I am lying, that behind this there is some kind of secret state which is in league with some dark forces in the United States … there simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition.”

Straw has never explained why he made this statement.

When Scotland Yard was questioning you about the rendition operations in which two families were flown to Libya in early 2004, did you tell the detectives about this later matter?

Straw was questioned – as a witness, not a suspect – by detectives investigating the Libyan renditions. It seems unlikely that he would have volunteered that he had authorised the financing of a subsequent rendition operation.

Did you tell the then prime minister Tony Blair what you were doing?

For some, this is the key question. It has never been answered.