CHANNEL 4 NEWS UNCOVERS NEW EVIDENCE OF HISTORIC BRITISH TORTURE
Posted By: February 02, 2017
Pat Finucane Center. Derry City.Wednesday, February 1, 2017
*Victims tortured in UK in 1972 speak out for first time * Both waterboarded and one given electric shocks
* New documents prove British and Irish governments were aware of allegations at prime ministerial level
* Damning MoD memo obtained by Channel 4 News from 1976 refers to an arrest in 1972 by the army and subsequent interrogation at Holywood Barracks. The memo concludes: “A court is likely to award exemplary damages to mark the improper use of executive power.”
Tonight on Channel 4 News two victims who say they were tortured in the UK talk for the first time about their experience at the hands of British Army.
Moreover, for the first time, some accounts are backed by official documents providing new evidence of what both British and Irish governments knew at the highest level.
The documents prove the British authorities knew they were exceeding their power and they knew they had to keep it from the courts and the media.
One victim describes to Channel 4 News, being taken to a school in West Belfast where he claims the Parachute Regiment had set up a torture center. It was in 1972 at the height of The Troubles.
“I recognized them by their berets.
“They tied a towel around my face. I was laid down. They poured water over it, and you just felt, well, this is it. This is the end. You’re gonna die. It was like you were suffocating.”
The words of Donald Trump have hit him hard:
“When I hear Donald Trump talk about waterboarding he makes it sound like it’s some kind of extreme sport. That is disgusting. It’s a horrifying thing. But it’s the hypocrisy of the British government that gets me, pretending like they’d never do that kind of thing.”
Concerns about waterboarding reached the highest levels of government. A memo records the then Irish Prime Minister Jack Lynch discussing the allegations with then Prime Minster Ted Heath, about a separate case. The minutes said
“…he had been forced to lie on his back on the floor, a wet towel had been placed over his head, and water had been poured over it to give him the impression that he would be suffocated…”
Another waterboarding victim has also spoken to Channel 4 News, on condition of anonymity. He still appears traumatized by what happened, back in 1972.
He was never charged, still less convicted, of any criminal offense.
He was taken to Andersonstown police station (now demolished) and assaulted. Then he was moved to another police station where he says his head was repeatedly immersed in water.
A contemporaneous memo from the Ministry of Defense says of this man:
“I think we must accept counsel’s advice that he was assaulted… having been subjected to electric shock treatment and having had his head immersed in water for prolonged periods of time…”
The memo outlines how The MoD is desperate to avoid unwanted publicity about this case and settle out of court.
The man says he received a payment of several hundred pounds. But what has traumatized him more than anything, he says, were the electric shocks torture he says he received:
“There was a man in charge to my right. He gave the orders to several other soldiers in the room. They made me hold small paddle-like objects in each hand attached to wires.”
“Then I heard this cranking noise behind me. Like someone winding up a machine. Suddenly there was this blinding flash in the middle of my head. It felt like my brain was exploding.”
After several hours he was dumped from an army vehicle at the roadside. He was never charged with any offense.
Channel 4 News has seen another internal legal document from The MoD seeking to avoid court action and adverse publicity in another case involving electronic torture.
This memo is dated 15 December 1976 and refers to an arrest in February 1972 by the army and subsequent interrogation at Holywood Barracks. This memo states:
” (name redacted) alleges that he was subjected to electric shock treatment. Our Counsel advises that there is no prospect of a meaningful defense to this…”
The memo then arrives at a devastating conclusion that the state knew it was exceeding its powers.
The documents came to light through the Pat Finucane Centre – an Irish human rights research organization. – Director Paul O’Connor told Channel 4 News:
“A country which condones torture is diminished in the eyes of the world. A Government which covers up evidence of torture is diminished in the eyes of its own citizens.”
Tonight a government spokesperson said:“The UK government considers torture or inhuman treatment to be an abhorrent violation of human rights and human dignity, and consistently and unreservedly condemns the practice. It would not be appropriate to comment further on specific allegations.”
Full report Channel 4 News 7 pm – please credit Channel 4 News with all content used