12 January 2012
Solicitors from Leigh Day & Co have welcomed the announcement of an investigation into the allegations made by eight Libyans, Sami Al Saadi and his family, and Abdel Hakim Belhadj and his wife, who claim that British officials, both members of the intelligent services and ministers, conspired, with US and Libyan involvement, to seize and unlawfully render them to Gaddafi.
Leigh Day & Co represent Mr Al Saadi and Mr Belhadj and their respective families, both of whom were opponents to the Gaddaffi regime. Mr Al Saadi was stopped along with his wife and four young children when he was flying to the UK from Hong Kong in 2004.
Mr Al Saadi, 45, and his family were flown to Tripoli after Britain allegedly arranged for their detention in Hong Kong and subsequent flight to Libya.
Once in Libya, the family were all detained for several months, with Mr Al-Saadi separated from the rest of his family. Mr Al-Saadi was imprisoned for several years afterwards, during which time he was severely tortured. He remembers being visited by UK agents during his imprisonment.
His children were aged 13, 11, 9 and 6 at the time of their rendition.
After Gaddaffi was overthrown documents were discovered by Human Rights Watch which allegedly show how British personnel were instrumental in his detention and rendition.
Mr Belhadj was also living in exile with his wife, now 38, when he was also detained and unlawfully rendered back to Libya, with alleged UK and US involvement.They claim they were detained by the US during which time Mr Belhadj and his wife describe being very badly mistreated.
He was then detained for six years inprison in Libya, and claims he was interrogated by "foreign" agents, including some from the UK. He was severely tortured during his imprisonment.
Leigh Day & Co claim evidence of the UK's role in the rendition of both families is detailed in a number of documents which came to light after the fall of the Gaddafi regime. One is a letter from Sir Mark Allen, former director of counter-terrorism at MI6, to Moussa Koussa, head of Gaddafi's intelligence agency, dated March 18 2004.
In it, Sir Mark is said to pass on thanks for helping to arrange Tony Blair's visit to Gaddafi, writing: "Most importantly, I congratulate you on the safe arrival of Abu Abd Allah Sadiq (Mr Belhadj). "This was the least we could do for you and for Libya to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built over the years. I am so glad. I was grateful to you for helping the officer we sent out last week."
Rosa Curling who is representing Mr Belhadj and Mr al Saadi and their families, said: Our clients welcome the announcement made by the DPP and MPS today and hope that the investigation will now proceed without further delay. Our clients and their families' lives have been irreversibly affected by the crimes committed against them by the Gaddafi regime. There is substantial evidence of collusion in torture by British security services with the knowledge and express approval of UK ministers. These serious allegations of crime must now be investigated promptly and comprehensively."