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Legal papers served on former MI6 director in Libyan rendition case

Sir Mark Allen faces intended legal proceedings

31 January 2012

The former director of counter-terrorism at MI6, Sir Mark Allen, has been notified of intended legal proceedings against him in the civil cases of two former Libyan dissidents and their families who claim they were rendered illegally back to Libya with the assistance of the UK Government & security services.
 
Last month Scotland Yard launched a criminal inquiry into the allegations of Sami Al Saadi and Abdel Hakim Belhadj and their respective families, both of whom were opponents to the Gaddafi regime.
 
The criminal investigation follows the discovery of a number of documents which came to light after the fall of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's regime. One of which is a letter from Sir Mark to Moussa Koussa, head of Gaddafi's intelligence agency, dated March 18 2004.
 
In it, Sir Mark passes 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]."
 
He continues: "This was the least we could do for you and for Libya to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built over the years."
 
Sir Mark left MI6 in 2004 to join BP, for which it is reported he later helped arrange lucrative oil and gas contracts in Libya.
 
Sir Mark is also reported to have been the driving force behind the negotiations to halt Gaddafi’s nuclear weapons programme. According to reports he presided over a celebratory lunch in the Travellers Club in Pall Mall, London, in December 2003. The leader of the Libyan delegation was Moussa Koussa.
 
The letter of claim sent by Leigh Day & Co seeks Sir Mark’s response to allegations that he was complicit in torture and misfeasance in public office. It seeks to examine his exact role in the rendition of both Mr Al Saadi and Mr Belhadj as well as claiming damages from him personally for the trauma involved.
 
Sapna Malik, Leigh Day partner, who is representing Mr Al Saddi, Mr Belhadj and their families said:
 
“We are taking this unusual step of preparing a legal action against an individual as the documents we have in our possession suggest Sir Mark was directly involved in the unlawful rendition of our clients and their families.  The documents, which have so far come to light, raise serious questions to answer, particularly in light of the horrendous treatment to which our clients were subjected. There must be full accountability for this dark episode.”
 
Cori Crider, Legal Director of Reprieve, who are also advising the former detainees, said:

“Abedelhakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi – and their families – deserve an explanation for the appalling abuse they suffered. The documents showing British involvement in their rendition to Libya appear to have Mark Allen’s name all over them – yet we’ve not had a word out of him since they became public last year. We need to know whether MI6’s plan to deliver Gaddafi’s opponents into his hands was authorised from the top. If it was, let Sir Mark bring that defence, and let’s hear who signed off on this shameful affair.”

Background to the Libyan rendition cases

Mr Al Saadi (45) was rendered to Libya with his wife and four young children from Hong Kong in 2004, while they were trying to travel to Europe. It is alleged that the UK and US were involved in their rendition.
 
Once in Libya, the family were all detained for several weeks, 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 12, 10, 9 and 6 at the time of their rendition.
 
Mr Belhadj (45) was also living in exile with his wife, now 38, when they were also detained and unlawfully rendered back to Libya, with alleged UK and US involvement. They claim they were initially detained by the US during which time Mr Belhadj and his wife describe being very badly mistreated.
 
He was then detained for six years in prison in Libya, and claims “foreign” agents, including some from the UK, interrogated him. He was severely tortured during his imprisonment.
 
He said: "To this day, I cannot understand why my pregnant wife was put on the same plane and abused as well.”

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