Belfast Telegraph

As Trump backs torture, MP who served in Army reveals he utilised its methods here

By Sam Lister

A senior Conservative MP who served as a soldier in Northern Ireland has said that torture is sometimes "justified" and can work as an interrogation method.

Former Army officer Bob Stewart admitted he had been "kind of a torturer" when he was posted here.

He completed seven operational tours during The Troubles.

It comes after US President Donald Trump used his first television interview since coming to office to indicate his support for waterboarding.

He is understood to be preparing to order a review of interrogation methods and the possible reopening of "black site" prisons outside the US.

The former Army colonel said he opposed waterboarding, but techniques like sleep and food deprivation could be acceptable in certain situations.

He told Emma Barnett on BBC 5 Live: "We don't like torture. No one likes torture. Not even Trump likes torture.

"But the fact of the matter is... sometimes it might work, and sometimes it might be justified.

"I don't agree with waterboarding, but a certain amount of persuasion might be justified if someone, for example, had the knowledge about where a nuclear weapon that was going to explode in London was," he added.

"That is where I suggest that people might say a certain amount of persuasion could be justified.

"I'm qualifying it all the way through.

"In circumstances where a great number of people, or indeed one person, is going to be killed, you have to think very carefully about what pressure you can put on people in order to give that information to stop people's lives being lost."

Asked about the types of torture techniques that might be suitable in those situations, he replied: "Sleep deprivation. Lack of food.

"Perhaps, as I've done, showing people pictures of their friends that have been blown up. That sort of thing."

Mr Stewart also told the programme: "Technically as you look at it today, I was a kind of a torturer. Of course, it was acceptable then. It's now unacceptable and now it's defined as torture."

Last night the Prime Minister said Britain would not back away from its condemnation of the use of torture, regardless of the approach taken by Mr Trump's administration.

And she confirmed that the UK is holding to guidance which bars it from receiving intelligence material that may been obtained by the use of torture.

In the few days since his inauguration as President last week, Mr Trump has sparked widespread concern over his apparent willingness to revive the use of torture techniques, including waterboarding, in which suspects are subjected to simulated drowning.

Asked about the use of torture in his first TV interview as President, Mr Trump said: "Absolutely I feel it works."

A draft presidential order made public this week envisages a review of interrogation methods for terror suspects, the possible reopening of black site prisons outside the US and the continued use of the Guantanamo Bay camp in Cuba to hold "enemy combatants".

Speaking to the Commons on the eve of her departure for the USA, Mrs May assured MPs: "We do not sanction torture, we do not get involved with that and that will continue to be our position".

And addressing reporters on her flight to Philadelphia, she said: "The UK Government's position on torture has not changed. I confirmed this yesterday in the House of Commons.

"We condemn torture and my view on that won't change, whether I'm talking to you or talking to the President of the United States of America."

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen urged Mrs May to tell the President that the use of torture was "unacceptable".

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