Law Lords ban torture evidence

Secret evidence which might have been obtained by torture cannot be used against terror suspects in UK courts, the law lords have ruled. The ruling means the home secretary will have to review all cases where evidence from other countries might have been obtained in this way. It is a victory for eight men who had been held without charge. The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) must now investigate whether evidence the against the suspects facing deportation was obtained by torture.

Lord Bingham, former Lord Chief Justice, who headed the panel of seven law lords, said in his ruling that English law had regarded "torture and its fruits" with abhorrence for over 500 years. He added:

"I am startled, even a little dismayed, at the suggestion (and the acceptance by the Court of Appeal majority) that this deeply-rooted tradition and an international obligation solemnly and explicitly undertaken can be overridden by a statute and a procedural rule which make no mention of torture at all."

Amnesty International said the "momentous" ruling overturned the "tacit belief that torture can be condoned under certain circumstances".

"This ruling shreds any vestige of legality with which the UK government had attempted to defend a completely unlawful and reprehensible policy, introduced as part of its counter-terrorism measures."

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