Obtained under torture

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
September 19, 2011, 9:01 PM GMT+0

Almost half of British adults believe that in some circumstances, British security services could be justified in using information obtained under torture elsewhere , compared to just over a third that this would never be acceptable, our survey on the subject has discovered, as allegations of Libyan rendition by MI6 continue to surface. Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy were welcomed yesterday in Libyan rebel stronghold Benghazi, as they sought to re-establish diplomatic relations with the nation state.

  • 46% of British people thought that there were some instances in which British security services could be justified in using information from other countries which has been obtained through the use of torture
  • 34% decided that there were no circumstances in which this would be acceptable
  • 19% said they were unsure

Allegations of rendition

The results come amid recent allegations in light of the on-going situation in Libya, in which it has emerged that the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) may have been closely involved in the rendition of Libyan terror suspects, while the discovery of some papers in Tripoli suggest close ties between MI6, the CIA and the Gaddafi regime.

The Gibson Inquiry, set up last year by David Cameron, is said to be considering new allegations of UK involvement in rendition to Libya.

Cameron has said that he wants to ‘deal with these accusations of malpractice so as to enable our security services to get on with the vital work that they do’, in the same week as he and French President Nicolas Sarkozy visit rebel-held city Benghazi to re-establish diplomatic relations with the country.

Then-terrorist suspect Abdel Hakim Belhaj, commander of anti-government forces in Tripoli, is certain that he was involved in an MI6 rendition operation in 2004. He said, ‘What happened to me and my family is illegal. It deserves an apology. And for what happened to me when I was captured and tortured.’

Cooperation: The right thing to do?

The allegations of cooperation between the countries have not been entirely dismissed by some, who suggest that some British cooperation with Libya was necessary to diffuse then-leader Gaddafi’s plan to develop mass destruction weapons. As our recent polling shows, many British people feel that cooperating with the dictator was ‘the right thing to do’ – although our previous questions did not deal explicitly with torture.

Former head of the MI5 security service Eliza Manningham-Buller , however, is unequivocal. She told the BBC: ‘torture is wrong and never justified’.