Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

I have always been opposed to torture, says former PM Tony Blair

Prime Minister Theresa May has apologised to Abdul Hakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar.

Former PM Tony Blair (Kirsty O'Connor/PA)
Former PM Tony Blair (Kirsty O'Connor/PA)

Former prime minister Tony Blair has said he has always opposed torture as he insisted he did not know about the case of Libyan dissident Abdul Hakim Belhaj until after leaving office.

Prime Minister Theresa May has apologised to Mr Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar after they said MI6 was involved in their rendition to Libya in 2004.

Mrs May said the couple had suffered “appalling treatment”, and Ms Boudchar, who was pregnant at the time, accepted a £500,000 payout.

Fatima Boudchar outside the Houses of Parliament (Kirsty O'Connor/PA)

Mr Blair, who stood down as PM in 2007, said he had not been aware of the incident while in power, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “This has been subject to a long legal process.

“I have gone along with what the Government’s done, which is issue the apology, I didn’t actually know myself about this case until after I left office.”

Pressed on whether he would give a personal apology to the couple, Mr Blair said: “Of course I’m sorry for any mistreatment that’s been given to people. How on earth would you ever justify that?”

The former PM said: “And, by the way, let me make one thing clear because sometimes people say, you know, I was sort of ambivalent on the use of torture – I have always been wholly and 100% in all circumstances opposed to the use of torture.

“And I have made that clear, publicly, privately in any conversation I have ever had within government.”

Mr Blair added: “This case wasn’t brought to my attention, but… there’s a lot of things in this case, some of which have been out in the media, some of which have not.

“It’s not something I dealt with myself when I was in government. I think that’s all I can say.”

Mr Belhaj says he was tortured during his detention in Libya. Ms Boudchar was also detained, but was released shortly before giving birth.

Tory former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind has led calls for a parliamentary inquiry into what involvement Mr Blair, and senior ministers at the time, had in the incident.

Press Association

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph