7 years ago252 views
The Government has confirmed it will make payments to former Guantanamo detainees to settle High Court actions.
Kenneth Clarke said the details of the agreement, negotiated over the last few weeks, will remain confidential.
The Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6, and the Security Service, MI5, said the settlement will allow both agencies "to concentrate on protecting national security".
Mr Clarke told MPs: "I can today inform the House that the Government has agreed a mediated settlement of the civil damages claims brought by detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.
"The details of that settlement have been made subject to a legally-binding confidentiality agreement. No admissions of culpability have been made in settling these cases."
The settlement of the claims will pave the way for an independent judge-led inquiry into allegations of British complicity in the torture of detainees held by other countries in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks.
It is hoped former Appeal Court judge Sir Peter Gibson will start the inquiry's work by the end of this year and report within 12 months.
Mr Clarke said: "To help pave the way for the inquiry to begin, the Government committed to entering into a process of mediation with those held by the United States in detention in Guantanamo Bay who had brought civil actions against the Government."
He went on: "The alternative to any payments made would have been protracted and extremely expensive litigation in an uncertain legal environment in which the Government could not be certain that it would be able to defend departments and the security and intelligence agencies without compromising national security."