08/12/2005

Lords reject torture evidence

The Law Lords have ruled that evidence obtained under torture may not be used against terror suspects.

The ruling, viewed as a blow to the government, has important implications in cases where evidence might have been obtained in this manner from other countries. While the government denies using evidence obtained by torture, the ruling has an impact on the rules of the presentation of evidence.

The Law Lords ruling overturns a finding by the Court of Appeal that meant that if UK authorities had no involvement in the procurement of evidence it was useable even if it may have been obtained improperly. However, this finding was challenged by human right groups.

The Appeal Court's ruling centred on a case where 10 overseas nationals were being held without charge under a defunct law allowing police to hold suspects if there were "reasonable" grounds to believe that they were a threat.

The eight remaining suspects - two have since left the country - contended that they were being held by evidence that may have been obtained from prison camps under US jurisdiction.

However, the Law Lords ruling effectively means that the procurement of such evidence will have to be examined or it may not be admissible.

As such, it should not be considered by the Special Immigration Appeal Commission which oversees such cases.

(SP/KMcA)

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