Sunday, April 18News For London

Tony Blair could face Intelligence Committee over Shaker Aarmer allegations

Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair
Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair

Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair may be invited to give evidence at the hearing of the Intelligence and Security committee of parliament.

Chairman of the committee, Dominic Grieve, told BBC radio 4’s Today programme that there was the possibility of inviting Mr Blair to give evidence if it is relevant.

“We have the material to look at which may help us schedule who knew what and we will be in a position to ask people to come and give evidence before us”, Mr Grieve said.

“We will go where the evidence takes us. All such things are possibilities,” he told the Today programme on Monday.

This comes after a series of allegations by the last British man to be released from Guantanamo Bay, Shaker Aamer.

Mr Aamer, 48, has accused the UK of having knowledge of his torture in the hands of US intelligence officials.  He told BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire that he had reason to believe a British official was present during one of his beatings in an Afghan prison.

“I will say 80, 90%. I have no doubt he is an English man because the way he spoke, the way he was careful, was sitting far away looking at me. I know there is British involvement in this issue,” he recounted.

When asked whether the supposed English intelligence officer took part in the violence against him and whether he made an attempt to stop the violence, Mr Aarmer responded, no.

In the broadcast interview, Mr Aamer described in detail how he was allegedly abused at the detention camp. He said his alleged torturer banged his head on a wall “back and forth”.

But Shaker Aamer does not intend to bring legal action suit against the UK government. “I don’t believe that the court will solve this problem. I don’t believe the court will bring justice because of what happened in the past,” he told the BBC.

Shaker Aamer
Shaker Aamer
Dominic Grieve, Chair, Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament
Dominic Grieve, Chair, Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament


But chairman of the parliamentary committee on Intelligence and Security that is investigating the issue has indicated the inquiry will be able to do a good job.

The MP said he would like for Mr Aarmer and other released detainees to provide evidence at the committee’s hearings.

“We have the documentation, the expert staff, we have the facilities, we’ve started our work. We already have a number of evidence sessions about it and we will come out with conclusions. It will be immensely helpful to us if both Shaker Aarmer and the other detainees were to help us,” Mr Grieve said.

He added the detainees still had the right to request for full judicial inquiry even after the Intelligence and Security committee had published its report.

Then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has strongly denied Mr Aamer’s claims that he had knowledge of his torture.

But according to Mr Grieve, they have enough materials and will be able to establish who knew what and at what time after its investigations.

Mr Aamer was released in October after spending 14 years in detention in US-run Guantanamo.