Huge double scandal as May’s personal rendition cover-up ignored by BBC TV news and most MSM

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Theresa May personally blocked committee’s access to witnesses

In what should be one of the biggest political scandals of the decade, the UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May personally blocked a powerful parliamentary committee’s access to witnesses and evidence about the UK’s involvement in ‘extraordinary rendition’ and the use of torture to obtain intelligence – so fatally that it had to abandon the rest of its inquiry.

This has been ignored by the BBC News channel and most mainstream news outlets.

The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report on the UK’s complicity in the extra-judicial transfer of prisoners for torture, including the personal attendance of UK intelligence officers during the torture, has rightly shocked the nation and has brought widespread condemnation. It was a brave and exemplary piece of work by the ISC, headed by Tory MP Dominic Grieve that took over four years.

But the personal role played by Theresa May in the hobbling and early end of the ISC’s investigation has been downplayed by the few ‘MSM’ to have mentioned it – and ignored completely by the nation’s news broadcaster.

The cover-up

Paragraphs 9-14 of the report detail the Prime Minister’s involvement:

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The report states that the committee considered it ‘essential‘ to speak to witnesses who were personally involved in the UK’s participation – but it was initially blocked by a government ruling that no officers could be interviewed if they were ‘junior at the time‘. This effectively blocked all access to those with first-hand knowledge, as ‘senior at the time’ officers would be highly unlikely to be personally involved in transfers or torture.

This blocking took place in spite of the Cabinet Secretary’s promise at the beginning of the inquiry that it could interview any officials it felt it needed to.

The ISC appealed to Theresa May herself – and she blocked the committee’s access to first-hand witnesses on the grounds of ‘legal uncertainty’ about the protection afforded to such witnesses.

But as the Tory-chaired committee reported, evidence given by witnesses to the ISC cannot be used in legal, civil or disciplinary proceedings. – and the government and all intelligence agencies have previously agreed this is ‘sufficient protection’.

In other words, there is no ‘legal uncertainty’ – but May blocked it anyway.

But May was not finished. The report continues:

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Taking a ‘belt and braces’ approach to her obstruction, May also claimed that it would not be ‘appropriate’ for the ISC to take evidence from then-junior staff – but as the report points out, this restriction does not apply to the ISC:

This may be the case for Select Committees, but the ISC is not a Select Committee; it quite deliberately has greater powers and protection, in recognition of the fact that it has sole responsibility for oversight of intelligence matters.

Furthermore, in respect of this Inquiry, the ISC sought, and thought it had been granted, access to officials, beyond the Agency Heads.

May was taking the extraordinary step of blocking the access to witnesses of a specially-empowered committee – on two grounds that were already known not to be true. And the Tory-led committee delivered an emphatic verdict:

The Committee considered this denial of access to witnesses to be incompatible with the terms under which the ISC had agreed to conduct the Inquiry. We were adamant that we must hear from officers who were involved at the time, as this was essential if the Inquiry was to be thorough and comprehensive and be in a position to reach properly considered, balanced and fair views about the facts. The Committee considered that the terms and conditions imposed by the Prime Minister were such that it would be unable to conduct an authoritative Inquiry and produce a credible Report.

The scale of this conclusion cannot be over-stated. So great and so fatal was Theresa May’s decision to block access to ‘essential’ witnesses – that the ISC itself has pronounced its own report to be non-authoritative and non-credible and had to end its inquiry prematurely:

The Committee has therefore concluded – reluctantly – that it must draw a line under the Inquiry.

If the revelations of a blocked and curtailed report were huge, what would have been the impact of a ‘thorough and comprehensive’ and ‘authoritative’, ‘credible’ version?

Theresa May – personally – prevented the inquiry doing its job and did so in such a way that even a Tory-chaired ISC could not restrain itself from laying out the consequences.

A cover-up of the cover-up?

Search for mention of this enormous scandal yield scant results. A few publications, such as the Guardian, did nod to May coming ‘under fire’ for the intervention – but then move swiftly onto other aspects of the report without further comment on what should be political dynamite:

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Typical search results for mention of the cover-up

Only PoliticsHome, a couple of independent media and some international platforms have drawn specific attention to May’s actions – but many even of these have not emphasised the scale of the scandal.

However, former UK ambassador Craig Murray, who gave evidence to the inquiry, did. He wrote (emphases added):

it is impossible to read paras 9 to 14 without being astonished at the sheer audacity of Theresa May’s attempts to obstruct the inquiry. They were allowed to interview only 4 out of 23 requested witnesses, and those were not allowed “to talk about the specifics of the operations in which they were involved nor fill in any gaps in the timeline”. If the UK had a genuinely free media, this executive obstruction of the Inquiry would be the lead story

The BBC News channel, the nation’s funded and supposedly impartial news broadcaster, was silent.

When challenged about this, a BBC spokesperson pointed to a single article on the BBC News website that does mention the report’s criticism of Theresa May and the fact that the report featured on the channel’s 10pm news programme on 28 June, before going on to state (emphasis added):

We have given our audiences comprehensive coverage of this report on TV, radio and online.

But when pressed to state explicitly whether May’s intervention was covered in the broadcast, the spokesperson confirmed:

We covered the story but did not cover that particular angle.

The BBC’s news channel is still the main news source for a significant part of the UK’s population. Yet its ‘comprehensive’ broadcast coverage of the report did not even mention that the Prime Minister blocked the investigation so fatally that she rendered the report – in the opinion of its authors – non-credible and non-authoritative.

Or ‘that particular angle’, as the BBC puts it.

Asked directly by the SKWAWKBOX about Mrs May’s intervention, a spokesperson for 10 Downing Street provided only ‘background’ that echoed May’s original and already-debunked reasons for blocking the committee’s access to anyone but ‘agency heads’, along with irrelevant information about ‘current compliance’:

The ISC had access to the HMG material provided to the Gibson inquiry and the agency heads’ responses to the 27 themes and issues identified by Sir Peter Gibson in his preliminary report.

In addition, the ISC was provided with the Intelligence Services Commissioner’s views on current compliance of those aspects of the CG that he monitors.

In certain instances some officials that the ISC were looking to speak to were junior at the time of the events in question.

It is not normal practice for a Parliamentary Committee to take evidence from junior officials.

Comment:

Theresa May’s actions should, in a nation with an actual ‘free press’, constitute the kind of scandal that ends Prime Ministerships and even governments.

The silence of the BBC and a large part of the UK’s media estate on the issue only serve to make it a double and even larger scandal that the population of this country needs and deserves to know about.

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16 responses to “Huge double scandal as May’s personal rendition cover-up ignored by BBC TV news and most MSM

  1. Pingback: Huge double scandal as May’s personal rendition cover-up ignored by BBC TV news and most MSM | The SKWAWKBOX – leftwing nobody·

  2. Ridiculous. WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO OUR DEMOCRACY She is acting more like a dictator each and every day. If there is nothing to hide why would she block vital witness evidence. It stinks

  3. “WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO OUR DEMOCRACY?”

    In my opinion Brown surrendered the narrative on the banking crash to the Tories by not defending Labour’s position – my guess is out of personal humiliation at his previous hubris in claiming to have ended the boom and bust cycle.

    It was clear to some at the time of Thatcher & Reagan’s big bang deregulation that a bubble was certain – it just took longer than expected for the banks and markets to become as reckless as they eventually did and for the bubble to burst.

    The Tories blamed Labour profligacy and Brown didn’t deny it determinedly enough.
    Liam Byrne’s stupid “There’s no money left” became as effective as the S*n’s “Will the last one to leave Britain turn the lights out.”
    Their demolition of Kinnock after his embarrassingly exultant on-stage premature celebration of victory was richly deserved.

    Labour profligacy and Tory economic competence are the fallacies we have to address.
    When Blairite front row players lack belief in Socialism it gives the Tories an open goal – they’re not going to leave that to chance so they also fill the MSM with ringers.

    It’s not our democracy, it’s theirs and we’ll have to pry it out of their cold, dead hands – I for one prefer it that way.

    • Well you have to remember that Brown was a Blairite and Blaire was just a pseudo Tory. This country has had a Tory government since 1979, when Thatcher won power.

      • I do 🙂 and yes, it has.
        I’d say, “acquired by default” rather than “won” – the 1973 and ongoing oil price shock led to the price and wage inflation that the Tories rode in on.

  4. Pingback: Huge double scandal as May’s personal rendition cover-up ignored by BBC TV news and most MSM | The SKWAWKBOX | Britain Isn't Eating·

  5. Truly 1984 nightmareish UK , up is down , truth is lies , black is white and May is Queen Dictator , inhumane as a block of ice and just as brittle .

  6. Wrote a poem during the last Tory Leadership election contest post-Cameron and as the Right in Labour tried to bring Jeremy down (part one) which I still think has some relevance:
    AS GOVE THE GRIMMEST REAPER.
    IN SELFISH SEARCH FOR FAME.
    STABS BORIS OF BIG BROTHER.
    QUEEN OF NASTY LIES WAITING IN THE FRAME.
    AND TORY INTERNAL SLAUGHTER.
    BRINGS FORTH OUR HOWLS AND DERISIONS.
    BUT STANDS NOT ALONE A DECENT MAN.
    WITH A POCKET FULL OF VISIONS.
    TAKE CARE OF THIS HUMAN.
    Solidarity!

  7. Pingback: “Huge double scandal as May’s personal rendition cover-up ignored by BBC TV News and most msm” | The Skwawkbox | COMRADE BOYCIE·

  8. No surprise.

    She ‘lost’ 114 files of CSA in Westminster… That Axminster must have an awful bulge in it by now – what, with the amount of shite may’s had swept under it

  9. She’s got previous. As Home Secretary she blocked witnesses at the child abuve enquiry. It’s what she best at. Cover ups!

  10. Pingback: Please support the SKWAWKBOX. Here’s what it’s been doing | RedZine·

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