Evidence that may have been obtained by torture cannot be used against terror suspects in British courts, the House of Lords ruled today.
A panel of seven Law Lords voted unanimously to allow an appeal by eight detainees who are being held without charge on suspicion of being involved in terrorism, against a controversial Court of Appeal judgment passed in August 2004.
The appeal court voted last year that if evidence was obtained under torture by agents of another country with no involvement by the UK, it was usable and there was no obligation by the government to inquire about its origins.
But today’s ruling means such evidence is inadmissible under British law. It also means the home secretary, Charles Clarke, must re-examine all cases where evidence from abroad has been obtained by torture.
Of course, the pro-torture lobby will simply state that this is proof of my Kerryesque Frenchness, because everyone knows that we would only torture to gain information to stop the proverbial ticking time-bomb, and that this is a war and not a police effort. Tell that to Jose Padilla and John Walker Lindh and all the other known and accussed terrorists who have been or will be tried in the future.