Former Ambassador, Human Rights Activist
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has agreed that I shall be able to review Top Secret and other classified documents which contain the evidence of UK complicity in torture and my attempts to stop it, before giving evidence to the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament. But under conditions which make plain the determination that the dirtiest of secrets will remain firmly shut away. Given that parliament actually defers to the FCO over what can and cannot be done, the entire pointlessness of the Intelligence and Security Committee Inquiry is starkly revealed.
Gareth Peirce as my counsel is not to be allowed in to any of my evidence where anything secret is being discussed – which is 100% of it. I think that really says everything about the “Inquiry” that you need to know.
Here is the communication from the FCO:
FCO policy is that access to documents by former officials when giving evidence to a Committee is subject to the discretion of the Director/ Minister. The documents in question include highly classified material, and Mr Murray does not currently hold any security clearance. However, as he is a former FCO employee who has already seen the specified documents, and as these documents have been shared with the ISC for its Inquiry, we are content to grant him access to these documents for the purposes of giving evidence to the ISC Detainee Inquiry. In line with FCO policy on information security, we must impose the following terms of access:
(a) Mr Murray will be allowed to view hard copies of the documents in the FCO for the purposes of preparing evidence. We will arrange a mutually convenient date and time for him to view the documents.
(b) While viewing the documents, Mr Murray will not have access to any electronic devices- in line with FCO policy for current staff- and will be accompanied by a member of the FCO Estates and Security Directorate.
(c) Once he is finished, Mr Murray will be asked to place any notes he has taken in a sealed envelope and to sign the seal. FCO officials will pass this envelope to the ISC, who will make it available to Mr Murray at his oral evidence session. The envelope will be kept in secure facilities in line with the FCO’s policy on handling classified material. The envelope will not be opened by anyone other than Mr Murray.
(d) When Mr Murray has completed his oral evidence, these notes will be destroyed.
(e) Mr Murray’s lawyer will not be permitted to see any classified documents or be present when classified evidence is being discussed, as she holds no security clearance.
This is consistent with the approach we have taken in similar cases where former officials have had to give evidence based on classified material. These terms are in line with standard FCO policy and ensure that we are able to continue cooperating fully with the ISC Detainee Inquiry.