The security services are delighted at the cancellation of the Gibson Inquiry into torture. Gibson had been showing worrying signs of independence. To use my own humble case as an example, he instructed the FCO, to their fury, that I must be allowed to see unredacted any document which I had already seen whilst Ambassador, and that I must be provided with paid legal assistance for my evidence on the same basis as other former public servants.
It is true that the terms which the government had set for the inquiry were ludicrous. Security service evidence would all be heard in secret, victims would not be allowed to question witnesses, the Cabinet Secretary, not Gibson, would decide what could and could not be published, and the CIA would have a veto on the publication of anything that related to their activities – including my own evidence.
But it was nonetheless true that a bad inquiry would be better than no inquiry, particularly given Gibson’s signs of fairness. Nothing short of assassination would prevent me from publishing my own evidence online, for example, and I would encourage detainees and others to take the same attitude.
The huge amount of time and energy devoted by the security services to persuade ministers firstly to constrain and then to cancel Gibson, is sufficient evidence in itself that the Gibson Inquiry would have been worth having. John Sawers has devoted more of his time to fighting the inquiry internally than to any single other subject, and become a hero to the torturers of Vauxhall Cross in the process.
It is ludicrous that Kenneth Clarke has announced that the Gibson Inquiry cannot go ahead because of the Metropolitan Police inquiry into rendition and torture anent Libya, when the Leveson Inquiry continues despite the long-running and delberately ineffective police investigations into News International.
The Gibson Inquiry contacted me in a friendly and helpful way, inviting me to submit a short evidence narrative for consideration in the interim report they will publish, to explain and put in context the official documents which I had supplied.
It dawned on me that my evidence of ministerial endorsement of a secret policy of collusion in torture, is extremely important to the Metropolitan Police investigation into rendition and torture, in favour of which Gibson has been cancelled.
This morning I therefore contacted Scotland Yard. I gave details of who I was and what I wanted to give evidence about. I was told a senior inspector would need to be consulted. Eventually, I was phoned back.
Scotland Yard stated that there is no investigation into complicity with rendition and torture in Libya.