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Joint statement by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Metropolitan Police Service

12/01/2012

This is a joint statement by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) dealing with:

(a) the decisions of the CPS not to charge any named individuals in relation to the investigations in Operations Hinton and Iden;

(b) the setting up of an advisory panel for scoping other complaints about ill-treatment by detainees in similar circumstances; and

(c) the decision by the MPS whether to investigate two further cases where allegations of criminal wrongdoing are raised in relation to the alleged rendition of named individuals to Libya and the alleged ill-treatment of them in Libya.

The investigations in Operations Hinton and Iden relate to serious and highly sensitive matters involving, as they do, allegations about members of the Security Service and the Secret Intelligence Service. The investigations have been painstaking and have involved not only obtaining evidence from a large number of records and individuals, including members of the Security Service and the Secret Intelligence Service, other government departments and authorities in other countries, but also, where it has been possible to do so, obtaining evidence from alleged victims of, and witnesses to, ill-treatment. This evidence has been obtained not only from UK records and individuals but also from records and individuals abroad.

Throughout the process, the MPS and the CPS have worked closely together and, at the end of the investigations, senior and highly experienced CPS lawyers have considered the evidence. All concerned have been mindful of the obligation that allegations such as those made in Operations Hinton and Iden must be investigated thoroughly and in accordance with Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Given the serious and highly sensitive matters involved in these operations, and the nature of the investigation called for, the exercise has inevitably taken some time.

Operations Hinton and Iden involve specific allegations about specific conduct. The question that has therefore been addressed in these cases is whether there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a criminal conviction against an identified individual in relation to these specific matters. The investigations have not examined wider allegations of ill-treatment, which, it is anticipated, will be examined by the Detainee Inquiry, chaired by Sir Peter Gibson. Nor have the investigations covered other specific allegations of ill-treatment beyond those raised in Operations Hinton and Iden.

Should further evidence in relation to the matters raised in Operation Hinton and Iden become available as a result of the Detainee Inquiry the MPS would consider re-opening these operations. In so far as other specific allegations going beyond the matters considered in Operation Hinton and Iden have now been raised, these are dealt with below.

1. OPERATION HINTON

Operation Hinton was investigated by the MPS and considered by the CPS following a referral from the former Attorney General, Rt. Hon Baroness Scotland QC, in November 2008.

Operation Hinton involved the investigation of the alleged involvement of British officials in the ill-treatment and torture of Mr Binyam Mohamed when he was detained in Pakistan between about April and July 2002 and/or when he was detained elsewhere between about July 2002 and early 2004.

Mr Mohamed has never alleged that any member of either the Security Service or the Secret Intelligence Service was directly involved in the torture and ill-treatment he alleges. The investigation has therefore focused on whether there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of convicting any member of either Service for offences of aiding and abetting torture, aiding and abetting war crimes and misconduct in public office.

At an early stage of the investigation it was established that a member of the Security Service, Witness B, conducted an interview with Mr Mohamed in Pakistan on 17 May 2002. In October 2010, the CPS advised that there was not a realistic prospect of a conviction for any criminal offences arising out of that conduct. That decision was made public.

The investigation continued into wider matters and is now complete. Having reviewed the further evidence carefully, the CPS has concluded that there is sufficient evidence to show that:

(a) members of the Security Service provided information to the US authorities about Mr Mohamed and supplied questions for the US authorities to put to Mr Mohamed while he was being detained between 2002 and 2004, including at times when Mr Mohamed's precise whereabouts was not known to them;

(b) that Mr Mohamed was held in Morocco for at least some time between July 2002 and early 2004.

However, the CPS has also concluded that there is insufficient evidence to prove to the standard required in a criminal court that any identifiable individual provided information to the US authorities about Mr Mohamed or supplied questions for the US authorities to put to Mr Mohamed, or was party to doing so, at a time when he or she knew or ought to have known that there was a real or serious risk that Mr Mohamed would be exposed to ill treatment amounting to torture.

Against that background, it is not possible to bring criminal charges against an identifiable individual.

In the course of the investigation, the MPS conducted extensive interviews with Mr Mohamed. Nothing in this decision should be read as concluding that the ill-treatment alleged by Mr Mohamed did not take place or that it was lawful.

The decision maker in Operation Hinton was Susan Hemming, the Head of the Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division (SCCTD) in the CPS, and a highly experienced reviewing lawyer.

2. OPERATION IDEN

On 15 June 2009, the former Attorney General, Rt. Hon Baroness Scotland QC, invited the MPS to investigate possible criminal wrongdoing in respect of a discrete incident involving an individual who had been detained by US authorities at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in January 2002 and who was interviewed by a member of the Secret Intelligence Service there. This was as a result of a voluntary referral by the Secret Intelligence Service.

The MPS has carried out a careful and thorough investigation into these matters and the CPS has now carefully considered whether there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of convicting any identifiable individual as a result.

Having done so, the CPS has concluded that:

(a) Despite strenuous efforts by the MPS, it has not been possible to obtain access to, or take an account from, the detainee in question in this case. Although not necessarily fatal to any prosecution, this inevitably gives rise to very real difficulties in prosecuting.

(b) There have also been difficulties in identifying potential eye-witnesses to the incident under consideration. Insofar as the identities of possible witnesses are known, these individuals are not British officials and, despite the efforts of the investigating team, it has not been possible to get an account from them.

(c) A full account of his actions has been given by the member of the Secret Intelligence Service in question and such evidence as the investigating team have been able to obtain from other sources and individuals is not capable of contradicting this account to the criminal standard.

(d) On the account that has been given by the member of the Secret Intelligence Services and taking into account all other available evidence, there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of convicting him of any criminal offence.

The offences considered were aiding and abetting torture, aiding and abetting war crimes, false imprisonment, aiding and abetting assault, and misconduct in public office.

The decision maker in Operation Iden was Alison Levitt QC, Principal Legal Advisor to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

3. OTHER ALLEGATIONS OF ILL-TREATMENT

In recent months a number of further specific allegations of ill-treatment have been made to the police in relation to other named individuals detained in similar circumstances. The decision whether to investigate these complaints is for the MPS. However, to advise the MPS in these cases, Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, and Acting Deputy Commissioner Cressida Dick agreed to set up a joint CPS/MPS panel to consider amongst other things:

(a) whether there is any significant risk that any available evidence would not be available or would be weakened if an investigation did not take place until the end of the Detainee Inquiry.

(b) whether the allegation in question is so serious that it is in the public interest to investigate it now rather than after the Detainee Inquiry.

4. FURTHER INVESTIGATIONS

In November 2011, the Metropolitan Police received a complaint from a detainee in which specific allegations of criminal wrongdoing were raised in relation to alleged rendition and alleged ill-treatment in Libya. In December 2011, the Attorney General, the Rt. Hon Dominic Grieve QC, wrote to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, drawing attention to that case and one other in which similar issues arose.

The MPS sought the advice of the joint CPS/MPS panel in relation to these two cases and the panel convened on 5 January 2012 to consider them (jointly chaired on this occasion by Keir Starmer QC and Acting Deputy Commissioner Cressida Dick).

Having considered the advice of the joint CPS/MPS panel, the MPS has decided that the allegations raised in the two specific cases concerning the alleged rendition of named individuals to Libya and the alleged ill-treatment of them in Libya are so serious that it is in the public interest for them to be investigated now rather than at the conclusion of the Detainee Inquiry.

The joint CPS/ MPS panel will consider the other allegations of ill treatment made to the police in relation to other named individuals detained in similar circumstances in due course.

All those concerned have been notified of these decisions.

Signatures of Keir Starmer and Lynne Owens

Keir Starmer QC, DPP                    Lynne Owens, Assistant Commissioner

12 January 2012

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  2. The DPP has set out what the public can expect from the CPS in the Core Quality Standards document published in March 2010.
  3. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are three specialised national divisions: Central Fraud Group, Special Crime and Counter-Terrorism, and Organised Crime. A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales.
  4. The CPS employs around 8,316 people and prosecuted 982,731 cases with a conviction rate of 86.8% in the magistrates' courts and 80.7% in the Crown Court in 2009-20010. Further information can be found on the CPS website.
  5. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.