UK secret service works on "no torture and no complicity in torture": MI6 chief

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London, Aug.10 (ANI): The head of Britain's MI6, Sir John Scarlett, has insisted that the British secret service works on a basis of "no torture and no complicity in torture".

"Our officers are as committed to the values and the human rights values of liberal democracy as anybody else," Scarlett told the BBC Radio 4 programme.

He said: "(Our officers) have the responsibility of protecting the country against terrorism and these issues need to be debated and understood in that context."

He also stressed that British intelligence services had not been compromised by close relationships with similar services in the US.

"Our American allies know that we are our own service, that we are here to work for the British interests and the United Kingdom. We're an independent service working to our own laws - nobody else's - and to our own values," Scarlett said.

Scarlett's response came hours after Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Home Secretary Alan Johnson said in a jointly written article for the Sunday Telegraph that intelligence officers faced "hard choices" and that their overriding aim was to "defend both our citizens' rights and their security".

"Our position is clear," they wrote. "The UK firmly opposes torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.

"When detainees are held by our police or Armed Forces we can be sure how they are treated. By definition, we cannot have that same level of assurance when they are held by foreign governments, whose obligations may differ from our own."

Their article came following several detailed allegations of British complicity in torture.

It has been claimed that questions for detainees to be asked under interrogation were provided by British intelligence officers.

Last week a committee of MPs and peers said that the Government had not properly investigated the claims and called for an independent inquiry.

Tom Porteous, a director of Human Rights Watch, said: "There are specific, detailed and consistent allegations... and they need to be answered.

"Government ministers are here issuing blanket denials but not addressing the specific allegations and so there really is a need for a judicial inquiry."

Andrew Tyrie, a Conservative MP who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition, also called for a full inquiry.

"It is the only way to give the public confidence that we have got to the bottom of all of this, to draw a line under it and to move on." (ANI)

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