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MPs take government to court over refusal to hold torture inquiry

MPs and a human rights group are taking the government to court over its refusal to hold an inquiry into Britain’s role in rendition flights and torture at the height of the war on terror.

Special forces soldier turned Tory MP David Davis and Labour’s Dan Jarvis, an ex-paratrooper, have teamed up with legal charity Reprieve to file the suit.

An inquiry into Blair-era torture allegations was launched by David Cameron when he became prime minister in 2010.

However it was boycotted by human rights groups including Reprieve who claimed it lacked independence, and the probe was shelved.

Campaigners say a sufficiently rigorous investigation has never been mounted, and attempts by Parliament’s intelligence committee were stymied when Downing Street blocked key witness evidence.

Reprieve’s director Maya Foa said the British government had “broken its promise to torture survivors.”

David Davis MP said: “Torture doesn’t produce reliable intelligence, and involvement in it makes everyone in this country less safe.

“We must take a clear-eyed look at this dark period in our recent history, and give victims the redress and accountability they were promised, and face the future with a clear conscience and determination not to repeat the mistakes of the past.”

Dan Jarvis MP said: “This inquiry isn’t about trashing Britain’s reputation but rebuilding it.

“We owe it to the victims, the public and our security services to find out the truth and confront our involvement in torture and rendition.

“Our response to the threat of terrorism must be unequivocal, but it must always be legal.

“As a country, we are not, nor should we ever be, above the law.

Labour’s shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti welcomed the move by Reprieve and the MPs.

“It is a disgrace that the government is refusing to allow a fully independent inquiry into one of the darkest episodes in modern British history,” she said.

“Once again, the courts are being asked to step in because the Conservatives are trying to block scrutiny and accountability. In this case over grave abuses of human rights.”

The government has 21 days to respond to the litigation.

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