Rights group demands recusal of UK torture inquiry judge

The legal action charity Reprieve has called on Sir Peter Gibson, chosen to lead the UK inquiry into British complicity in the torture of detainees held by the US and other countries, to step down from his role because “his impartiality is fatally compromised”.

Reprieve noted that Gibson has served as Intelligence Services Commissioner, Britain’s spy watchdog, since April 2006. The rights group said the government was effectively asking Gibson to “judge whether his own work was effective.”

Reprieve identified three reasons for Gibson’s recusal. The first is that it appears that the Prime Minister recently admitted that Gibson had “already conducted a secret inquiry, at the previous government’s request, into allegations of misconduct,” but “because it is secret, none of us may know what his conclusions were.”

The second reason is because, in three annual reports (from 2006 to 2008), Gibson concluded that all members of the Security Services were “trustworthy, conscientious and dependable.” As a result, in Reprieve’s words, he was “entirely prejudging the issues before the inquiry.”

The third reason, as Reprieve explained, is that “part of Sir Peter’s job, as ISC, was to oversee ministerial authorizations that would allow the Security Services to violate the law abroad, including sanctioning British involvement in abusive interrogations. Since evidence will be presented that such interrogations have continued during Sir Peter’s tenure, he either validated these actions, or he has been hoodwinked as ISC. Either way, he should be a witness at the inquiry.”

Read the letter by Reprieve to Sir Gibson here.

(h/t Andy Worthington)

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