Ex-detainees payments kept secret

The Irish Times | November 16, 2010

The cost of payments to former detainees at Guantanamo Bay will remain secret, British justice secretary Ken Clarke said today.

Those detained at the controversial US camp and the government are bound by confidentiality agreements about the payments, which reportedly to run into millions of pounds.

Making a statement to the Commons, Mr Clarke said: “The Government has now 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.”

He added: “No admissions of culpability have been made in settling these cases nor have any of the claimants withdrawn their allegations.”

Settling the High Court actions will pave the way for a judge-led inquiry into allegations that British security and intelligence services were complicit in torture.

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan asked for details of the cost of the payments, claiming there was a “public interest in knowing the total sums involved in this settlement”.

But Mr Clarke told him the settlement “could be reopened if either side started breaking the confidentiality” but said there was a “gain” from mediating the claims instead of mounting a lengthy court battle.