The senior Labour MP who led the revolt against Tony Blair’s 90-day detention bill yesterday intensified the political storm over Britain’s alleged complicity in torture by attacking the parliamentary intelligence and security committee (ISC) for failing in its remit as overseer of the security services. The ISC, David Winnick said, had become a “mouthpiece for MI5”.
“The impression given is that this committee, which reports directly to the prime minister, is in danger of being open to the accusation that it has gone native,” said Winnick.
His attacks came after Kim Howells, the ISC’s chairman, defended MI5’s director general, Jonathan Evans, in the row over allegations that British security officers colluded in torture. Howells denied that the ISC had been misled by the security service and said the committee had seen no evidence that MI5 had been involved in torture.
Any claim to the contrary, said Howells on Friday in a joint statement with the senior Tory on the ISC, Michael Mates, was “calumny and a slur and it should not be made”.
Evans publicly contested the allegations against his officers in an article in Friday’s Daily Telegraph. “We did not practise mistreatment or torture and do not do so now, nor do we collude in torture or encourage others to do so on our behalf,” he stated.
Winnick, a long-standing member of the home affairs select committee, said the ISC needed to start holding sessions in public to reverse its current “unhappy” lack of accountability. He accused it of closing ranks with the intelligence services at the very time when scrutiny should be at its most intense.
‘in danger’ Bless.
PS. And for Howells to say that, well he does like to hang with death squads.