David Davis, the former shadow Home Secretary, last night used parliamentary privilege to directly accuse MI5 of “outsourcing torture”.
The Tory said there was clear evidence that British security services had been complicit in the mistreatment of at least 15 terror suspects in foreign jails.
David Davis MP accuses MI5 of ‘outsourcing torture’
Taking advantage of the legal protection that covers statements made in the House of Commons, he cited the case of Rangzieb Ahmed, the Rochdale-born al-Qaeda leader who claims his fingernails were pulled out during interrogations in Pakistan.
Mr Davis said that MI5 allowed Ahmed to leave Britain despite having enough evidence to charge him with terrorist offences, only to suggest his arrest to Pakistani authorities. Mr Davis said he had not seen a clearer case of “passive rendition”.
In response Ivan Lewis, the Foreign Office minister, said that he could not discuss Ahmed’s case for legal reasons.
Ahmed, who is serving a life sentence after he was found guilty of leading an al-Qaeda cell in Manchester, is challenging his conviction and claims that British officials colluded in his torture in Pakistan.
Earlier this week he claimed in an interview from prison that he was offered money or a reduced sentence by MI5 in return for dropping the torture allegations.
Mr Davis, the MP for Haltemprice and Howden, finished second behind David Cameron in the 2005 Tory leadership race but left the shadow cabinet last year when he resigned as an MP to force a by-election to debate the erosion of civil liberties.
Under the “absolute privilege” of the House, MPs can say what they like without fear of being sued for defamation. Their words can also be reported by the press under “qualified privilege”.
MI5 and MI6 have come under increased scrutiny for failing to prevent the alleged torture of terrorism suspects in foreign prisons.
In March the Attorney General launched a police investigation into the alleged collusion of MI5 in the treatment of Binyam Mohamed, the former Guantánamo Bay prisoner.