Jagtar Singh Johal

Jagtar Singh Johal

If substantiated, the Jagtar Singh Johal case suggests that the agencies have been supplying information to third parties abroad to facilitate arbitrary detention and torture. It was in an attempt to bring an end to such shocking practices that the All Party Group on Extraordinary Rendition was created 17 years ago. And it is practices such as this about which the Intelligence and Security Committee has repeatedly expressed concern. Their efforts to get to the bottom of earlier allegations of facilitation in torture and extraordinary rendition were thwarted by successive governments. As a result, they closed down their inquiry in 2018.*

The Government’s own “Principles” on torture – designed to ensure that the UK is not involved in it - appear to have been breached.**  Parliament and the public cannot have confidence that the UK is not involved in kidnap and torture.

Rt Hon. Sir Stephen Timms MP & Rt Hon. Lord Tyrie Chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition

* The ISC concluded that “the terms and conditions imposed were such that we would be unable to conduct an authoritative Inquiry and produce a credible report”, “Detainee Mistreatment and Rendition: 2001–2010", HC 1113, 28 June 2018

** The Principles relating to the detention and interviewing of detainees overseas and the passing and receipt of intelligence relating to detainees, HM Government, July 2019

APPG holds Intelligence and Security Committee Reform event at Blackstone Chambers

APPG holds Intelligence and Security Committee Reform event at Blackstone Chambers

On 12th July the APPG on Extraordinary Rendition held a discussion on Intelligence and Security Committee Reform. The event, Watching the Watchers, brought together an expert panel who were asked questions by Joshua Rozenberg, the leading legal journalist. The panel comprised of Lord Ricketts GCMG GCVO (National Security Adviser 2010 - 2012, Chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee 2000 - 2001), Rt Hon. Dominic Grieve QC (Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee 2015 - 2019), Caroline Wilson Palow of Privacy International, Ben Jaffey QC, and the APPG's founder and co-chair, the Rt Hon. Lord Tyrie. The event was held at Blackstone Chambers new conference facility.

The panel started with a discussion on the limitations of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC). It was noted that the ISC had itself concluded that their rendition report was "not fully credible" due to the inaccessibility of key witnesses. There was a discussion on the conventions which prevent Select Committees (though the ISC itself is not a Select Committee) from viewing junior civil service staff, and whether these should apply to a private and unique committee such as the ISC. Joshua Rozenberg asked whether the ISC should oversee special forces operations. This was especially prescient, given that a BBC Panorama programme containing allegations of torture and killing by UK special forces in Afghanistan had been released that day. Panellists noted that the special forces were an "accountability blackhole" but there was some doubt as to whether the ISC was best placed in terms of resources to address this. 

The panel moved on to compare the UK's scrutiny mechanisms with that of the United States where the 2016 Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture had thoroughly investigated the extraordinary rendition and torture programme. It was noted that the US had far more to investigate in terms of its own wrongdoing. 

The importance of a cooperative relationship between the intelligence agencies, the committee, and the Prime Minister was raised, and there was a suggestion that reforms could further damage this relationship. An audience member pointed out that the intelligence agenices should not be able to evade democratic scrutiny by refusing to cooperate. 

Pannellists were asked to put forward their key reforms for the ISC. There was a broad agreement on the need to see key witnesses and key papers, and on reforms to impose a political cost on an uncooperative Prime Minister. There was less consensus in other areas - notably on whether the Prime Minister should be able to veto Committee appointments. 

Lord Tyrie announced the creation of a working group to draw up a specific slate of ISC reforms, and narrow down the Parliamentary mechanism for achieving them. He invited pannellists and interested members of the audience to contribute. 

The APPG is deeply grateful for the support of Blackstone for hosting this important discussion, and to the panel themselves for their time and contributions. 

Chairs call for new measures to prevent UK complicity in torture

Stephen Timms and Andrew Tyrie, co-chairmen of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition stated : “The latest IPCO report shows that parliament and the public should have no confidence in the principles preventing UK complicity in torture and detainee abuse.

“It is vital that new measures are put in place. First and foremost, the implementation of major reforms to the Intelligence and Security Committee, allowing parliament to effectively scrutinise the work of the intelligence agencies.”

Their comment can be found in the following article: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/foreign-office-official-knew-about-detainee-mistreatment-3gp63h8wl which details concerns over internal guidance disseminated by the intelligence agencies, which states "ministers can sign off the passing of material to allies so long as there is “no causal link” between the actions of UK personnel and potential mistreatment. "

Abu Zubaydah case shows need to bolster Intelligence and Security committee

The following letter was placed in the Guardian by the chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition

Your report describes the rendition and torture of Abu Zubaydah by the US government (The CIA tortured him after 9/11. Then they lied. Will the truth ever come out?, 29 January). UK intelligence agencies played a key role in his interrogation, despite knowing that he was subject to unlawful torture. Yet we still do not know the full extent of the British role in torture and unlawful rendition during this era.

The intelligence and security committee (ISC) was, in its own words, “unable to conduct an authoritative inquiry” or produce a “credible report” in its latest attempt in 2018. This was because it was thwarted from collecting the necessary evidence, as its report explains. This is unacceptable. The ISC in its current form is unable to complete such work. Long-mooted reforms to bolster the powers of the ISC must be implemented so that parliament and the public have confidence that the ISC is able to perform its role effectively.
Stephen Timms MP
Andrew Tyrie
 House of Lords



APPG Annual General Meeting – May 27th, 12.30pm

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition will hold its Annual General Meeting on May 27th, 12.30pm, on Zoom.

APPG Chairman Stephen Timms will give a brief address on the latest developments in the group’s work. All members of the Commons and Lords are welcome to attend. For further details contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

APPG holds inaugural meeting for new Parliament

The APPG on Extraordinary Rendition held its inaugural meeting of the new Parliament on 11 February. At this meeting, Stephen Timms MP was elected Chair of the Group, with Lord Tyrie as Co-chair.  Other officers of the Group were elected and accounts for the year ending August 2019 were presented and accepted. The meeting also set out some of the Group's priorities for the new Parliament.

 You can find the minutes of the meeting here

Government refuses judge-led inquiry, publishes new Guidance

Following Monday's Urgent Question, the government today issued a combination of Oral and Written Statements, along with the successor to the Consolidated Guidance to intelligence and military personnel on detainee issues. 

In his Oral Statement, the Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington announced the publication of the 'Principles' document by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, Sir Adrian Fulford, to replace the Consolidated Guidance. He also announced that "the Government have decided that it is not necessary to establish a further Inquiry." The Minister justified this on the grounds that there was no policy case for doing so because of the changes made to Guidance in recent years, and no legal obligation to do so either.

APPG Members David Davis, Dominic Grieve, Stephen Timms, Andrew Mitchell and Andy Slaughter spoke in response to the Statement, challenging the government's case and pointing in particular to the constraints on the Intelligence and Security Committee's (ISC) investigation that led the Committee to conclude that it should end its inquiry without its having reached full and definitive conclusions. APPG Members Lord Tyrie, Baroness d'Souza and Baroness Ludford spoke In the House of Lords debate,

The APPG will set out its full views on the new 'Principles' document shortly. The APPG participated fully in the Investigatory Powers Commissioner's consultation, and some of the Group's proposals were accepted; Sir Adrian Fulford's accompanying letter to the Prime Minister makes specific reference to the APPG regarding whistleblowing. However, the failure to set clear prohibitions on ministerial action and decision-making is a cause for significant concern.

The Statement and debate can be found here, and the APPG's press release can be found here.   


Inquiry decision and Consolidated Guidance 'this week'

In response to an Urgent Question on Monday 15 July from APPG Chair Ken Clarke, the Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington committed the government to setting out its decision on a judge-led inquiry 'later this week'. Mr Lidington, relying on behalf of the Prime Minister, added that the government would, at the same time, publish its response to Sir Adrian Fulford's review of the Consolidated Guidance.

Neither the precise date nor the form of the government announcement was clear from Mr Lidington's statement. The Speaker's suggestion that it should be the subject of an Oral Statement to the House elicited a non-commit all reply from the Minister.

Ken Clarke's Urgent Question reminded the government of commitments made over a year ago that the House would be told within 60 days of its view about a judge-led inquiry. So far that commitment has not been delivered. Members of the APPG pressed the Minister further, but we now await the announcement within the coming days.

Ken Clarke's Urgent Question, and the resulting debate, can be found here