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Officially, the UK government has not approved of torture for a long time, and does what it can to prevent it being carried out. Evidence suggests a different story, however.

Official narrative

In 1978, charged before the European Court of Human Rights with torturing IRA suspects, Britain swore "a solemn undertaking" that it would never again deploy these psychological torture techniques. (developed in conjunction with the US). On December 7 2005 the House of Lords cited this case and branding torture "an unqualified evil" which should have no place in the proud, thousand-year tradition of British justice.[1] UK Foreign minister David Miliband repeated the UK's official story that "Torture is abhorrent. Britain never supports or condones it".[Citation Needed]

Unanswered Questions

  • Why has David Miliband insisted that the UK's interrogation policy should not be made public?

Historical Record

After over 50 years of denial, the UK government finally admitted that it had tortured Kenyans involved in the Mau Mau Uprising.


Craig Murray (Uzbekistan)

Craig Murray was the UK ambassador to Uzbekistan until he resigned in 2004, citing UK support for torture as a major reason.

Ben Griffin (Iraq)

Ben Griffin worked in the SAS for 8 years and in February 2008 game a speech condemning the UK's complicity in torture[2]. He was immediately served with an injunction to try to prevent him from speaking further about his experiences in SAS[3].


Baha Mousa

Baha Mousa was an Iraqi civilian who was murdered by British army soldiers whilst in their custody in Basra in September 2003.[4]

Binyam Mohamed

Binyam Mohamed was taken prisoner by US forces in Afghanistan in 2003 and 'extraordinarily rendered' to Guantanamo Bay in 2004. He was released without charge and returned to the UK as a free man in February 2009. As of July 2010 Mohamed was pressing a civil action in the UK courts against the UK government alleging complicity in his torture and secret rendition. After prolonged argument in the court, with the government and its security services strenuously opposed to their release, a series of documents were finally released to the public on 12 July 2010.


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
How Britain Wages Wararticle8 July 2008John Pilger
Second Baha Mousa Memorial LecturespeechSeptember 2010Phil ShinerA shocking introduction to the systematic abuse of prisoners by the British military in Iraq and focusing on the case of Baha Mousa
The postwar photographs that British authorities tried to keep hiddenarticle3 April 2006Ian CobainThe British military and security services are no strangers to torturing their prisoners when they judge it necessary.
Three Shattered Mythsopen letter26 January 2005Babar Ahmad


  1. Alfred McCoy on How Not to Ban Torture in Congress Tomdispatch blog, 7 Feb 2006.
  2. See this YouTube video
  4. Richard Norton Taylor and Own Bowcott The Guardian 29 December 2009

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