From Prime Ministers to pop stars, terror suspects to teenage tearaways, Scotland Yard has questioned them all. But the request by the British Attorney General that the London police launch an investigation into MI5, the U.K.’s domestic security service, is unprecedented. At issue are claims by Binyam Mohamed, a former Guantánamo detainee, who alleges that British intelligence agents knew he was being held and tortured in prisons in Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan, and even supplied questions to his interrogators.
Mohamed’s lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, says that to evaluate his client’s claims — which could expand the investigation to include similar allegations by fellow Gitmo alumni — police will need access to records and personnel from the British intelligence community as well as from ministries with oversight of the security services and perhaps even to the pinnacles of decision-making in Westminster — and Washington. “It would be very surprising if the decision [on Mohamed] was not taken at a high level. The question is how high,” says Stafford Smith, who is also the director of the legal charity Reprieve. During a live broadcast of Britain’s nightly Channel 4 News on March 26, the attorney was more explicit. “The British investigation cannot just stop at the British people because the real torturers … were the Americans and the Pakistanis and the Moroccans,” he said.