In an unprecedented move, the Government today apologised for the UK's complicity in the rendition and mistreatment of Abduk-Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar. 

 

The Prime Minister said in a letter to the couple, which was read out by the Attorney General in the House of Commons and repeated in the House of Lords, that: 

"Your accounts were moving and what happened to you is deeply troubling. It is clear that you were both subjected to appalling treatment and that you suffered greatly, not least the affront to the dignity of Mrs Boudchar, who was pregnant at the time. The UK Government believes your accounts. Neither of you should have been treated in this way.​ The UK Government’s actions contributed to your detention, rendition and suffering." 

Speaking in the Commons, APPG Chairman Ken Clarke welcomed the apology but regretted that it had taken "so many years", given that Mr Belhaj had offered to settle the case in 2013 for £3 and an apology. He said that the most important thing now was to be "reassured that nothing of this kind is likely to happen again and that our intelligence services will not get embroiled in such serious breaches of human rights." 

He asked the Attorney General to confirm that the upcoming Intelligence and Security Committee Report into these matters would be followed by a Ministerial statement confirming the facts that the government is prepared to disclose about the case and "how future rules and the Consolidated Guidance are to be so revised that we can be reassured that for the foreseeable future it is highly unlikely that the British will ever be involved in such an embarrassing situation again."

In the House of Lords, APPG Treasurer Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, referring to the CPS statement in 2016 that Sir Mark Allen had sought "political authority" for some of his actions, asked the Lord Advocate General for Scotland (Lord Keen of Elie) whether any further probing would take place on "what that political authority was and who gave it." Lord Hodgson further asked where the government was with the review of the Consolidated Guidance and "when we might expect to see it published." 

Read the Commons statement and questions here.

Read the Lords statement and questions here