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The Court of Appeal has held that allegations of kidnap and torture made by two Libyan victims of 'extraordinary rendition' against senior British officials must be heard at trial in the English courts. The Court of Appeal rejected arguments by the Government, Jack Straw MP and Sir Mark Allen (former head of counter-terrorism at MI6) that the case should not be heard because it might involve looking at the activities of the CIA, who are also alleged to have been involved in the rendition operation. The Court of Appeal said:
"...the stark reality is that unless the English courts are able to exercise jurisdiction in this case, these very grave allegations against the executive will never be subjected to judicial investigation. The subject matter of these allegations is such that, these respondents, if sued in the courts of another state, are likely to be entitled to plead state immunity. Furthermore, there is, so far as we are aware, no alternative international forum with jurisdiction over these issues. As a result, these very grave allegations would go uninvestigated and the appellants would be left without any legal recourse or remedy."
The judgment is available online at:
Ben Jaffey acted for Mr Belhaj and Mrs Boudchar (led by Richard Hermer QC and with Maria Roche).
Shane Sibbel and Ravi Mehta (led by Nathalie Lieven QC) acted for the UN Special Rapporteurs on Torture and Arbitrary Detention.