17 Nov 2010

Detainees to be compensated by UK govt

1:41 pm on 17 November 2010

The British government has paid compensation to 16 men who were detained by United States forces at Guantanamo Bay.

The men claim that London knew or was complicit in their treatment in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11.

Twelve of the men had launched damages claims.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said on Tuesday the settlement is confidential - but necessary to avoid a legal battle which could have cost up to £50 million.

In a statement, Mr Clarke said: I can today inform the House that the government has agreed a mediated settlement of the civil damages claims brought by detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.

The details of that settlement have been made subject to a legally binding confidentiality agreement. They have been reported in confidence to the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, and to the National Audit Office.

No admissions of culpability have been made in settling these cases.

CNN reports that the men would receive a total of around £5 million.

The coalition government had previously made it clear that it wanted to avoid a massive court case which would have put the British secret intelligence services under the spotlight.

The police are still investigating allegations made by some of the detainees.

The BBC reports British security services have always denied any claims that they have used or condoned the use of torture.

Last month, the head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, described torture as illegal and abhorrent and defended the service's need for secrecy.