Equality and Human Rights Commission says UK torture guidance

Letter to David Cameron threatens legal action if changes not made.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission, a quango spared form the list of 177 slated for the axe, has written to the Prime Minister David Cameron expressing concerns that amended guidance on the use of torture to interrogate terrorist suspects remains unlawful.

While the amended guidance, issued in July this year, states investigating officers must not interview or seek intelligence from detainees when they "know or believe" they will be tortured, the EHRC chief Trevor Phillips writes that the guidance does not stop officers from proceeding when there is a "serious risk" of torture, and is therefore still short of what is legally required.

Phillips also says the guidance may put officers in the invidious position of unwittingly suborning torture while remaining within the letter of the guidance.

The Cabinet Office has retorted "the government stands firmly against torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. We do not condone it, nor do we ask others to do it on our behalf."

In the absence of amendments the EHRC expects to mount a legal challenge to the guidance by way of judicial review.