Monday, June 27, 2016

The establishment protects itself

In 2004, Britain helped the CIA kidnap Libyan dissident Abdul Hakim Belhaj and his family from Thailand. Belhaj and his pregnant wife were rendered to Libya, where they were imprisoned by the Gaddafi regime. Belhaj was tortured. MI6 knew and wanted this to happen. And yet the British government has spent over £600,000 trying to prevent him from seeking justice through the British courts:

The government has spent at least £600,000 of taxpayers’ money trying to prevent a civil case being brought against it by a husband and wife who allege that British intelligence was complicit in their detention, rendition and torture.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal the extraordinary lengths to which the government is going to prevent the civil case against it, former home secretary Jack Straw, and former MI6 spy chief Sir Mark Allen coming to court.


[I]nformation released under FOI shows that by 10 September last year the government had spent £355,000 on internal legal advice and £259,000 on external advice as it sought to have the case dropped. Of this, £27,000 was spent on advice relating to Straw and £110,000 on advice relating to Allen.

The FOI data reveals that the government has been paying as much as £250 an hour to two senior barristers involved in defending the action. A number of junior barristers have also been charging between £45 and £120 an hour.

Given that the figures are 10 months old, there is speculation that the total cost of fighting the case – before it even comes near a court – could be well in excess of £10m.

Belhaj isn't seeking damages - he is seeking an admission of involvement and an apology. But actually admitting what everyone knows - that they are complicit in rendition and torture - would be deeply embarrassing to the British political establishment, not to mention expose senior members to (well-deserved) criminal prosecution. So instead they're spending public money to prevent that. Just another example of how Britain's criminal establishment governs in its own interests, not those of the people.