By Ray Fleming

I first wrote here more than a year ago about Binyam Mohamed, the British citizen who alleged that he had been tortured in Pakistan while in the hands of the CIA and with the knowledge of British secret services. Questions in the House of Commons produced only defensive statements by ministers to the effect that Britain never used torture or colluded with others in its use.

Calls for an inquiry grew and it is to the credit of the Lib-Con coalition government and to William Hague and David Cameron in particular that the cries have at last been heeded. Yesterday's announcement by the prime minister of a mainly, but not wholly, secret inquiry was generally well-received although it will not start work until the end of the year. Its three members are predictable establishment figures, leavened somewhat by the former Times senior political correspondent Peter Riddell who is now with the Institute of Government. Mr Cameron did not reveal the terms of reference of the inquiry beyond saying that “the longer these questions remain unanswered, the bigger the stain on our reputation as a country that believes in freedom, fairness and human rights grows.” Perhaps he did not intend to give this impression but there is in that statement a possible implication that the answers will remove the stain. They may not . Obviously, the inquiry must start with an absolutely open mind.

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