The home secretary, Theresa May, has firmly denied speculation that she had a role in securing the redaction of any details about the British security services from the US Senate report on alleged torture by the CIA.
She told the Commons home affairs committee that while the UK government had made representations to secure redactions necessary to protect national security she herself had not had any role in the matter.
May said suggestions that she or Home Office officials had met Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chaired the US Senate inquiry, on multiple occasions in recent years to discuss the report were wrong and inaccurate.
“I have not asked for any redactions. Any such request will only have been in relation to the need to ensure that nothing damages our national security.” She said that she had only met Feinstein once, in September, and they had not discussed the torture report but instead talked of other matters.
May insisted that she could not speak for the last Labour government, which was in power during the period of the allegations covered in the report. But she made clear that she personally regarded torture as abhorrent and added that clear guidance had been given to the security services when the coalition government came to power.
She defended the decision not to set up a judge-led inquiry into the Senate report, arguing the British intelligence and security inquiry would match the US investigation, and should be allowed to do its work.
When asked whether Tony Blair or Jack Straw should give evidence on allegations of security service complicity in CIA torture programmes during their time in office, she said it was a matter for individuals to justify their previous decisions to parliament, but added she acknowleged that ministers faced a “heavy responsibility” in such matters.
The committee chairman, Keith Vaz, said the committee would try to secure an appearance from Feinstein and a Republican senator to discuss the matter in the new year.
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