Hooding legal challenge gets go-ahead

By Alex Stevenson

The government could face multiple judicial reviews from Iraqi civilians who allege they were hooded while being detained by British forces.

Last week prime minister David Cameron revealed to MPs the guidance issued to British personnel on how to deal with detainees held by other countries. Separate guidance covering torture more generally was published at the same time.

Lawyers claim the guidelines are relevant to the cases of many former Iraqi detainees. Yesterday permission was granted for a judicial review to take place investigating British detention policies in Iraq, the Guardian reported.

“What the British public thought they were getting was a fresh start,” Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers told the newspaper.

“What we have got amounts to a charter for the use of hooding. It amazes me that the lessons of Baha Mousa’s death still haven’t been learned.”

Mr Mousa, whose death is the subject of an ongoing independent inquiry, was an Iraqi civilian who died while in the custody of British soldiers. A post-mortem established there were 93 identifiable injuries on his body and that he died of asphyxiation.

Earlier this month former armed forces minister Adam Ingram admitted to the Baha Mousa inquiry that he had given inaccurate information to parliament.

He had said hooding was only used during the transit of prisoners, but a secret memo released to the inquiry which Mr Ingram had been copied in on stated Mr Mousa had been hooded for nearly 24 of the 36 hours before he died.

“[Hooding] could have been used within an interrogation area for the security of the individual because that individual may be coming to give evidence… it’s clearly not a very precise term,” he said.

Mr Cameron announced plans for an inquiry into allegations of torture would take place last week.

He also revealed that Britain’s intelligence and military personnel were required to report all abuses to the government and are forbidden from taking any action “where they know or believe torture will occur”.