Labour has accused Boris Johnson of authorising the sharing of intelligence that led to the imprisonment and alleged torture of a UK-based Sikh activist in India.
A Foreign Office minister refused to confirm or deny Johnson’s alleged involvement – during his time as foreign secretary – in the case of Jagtar Singh Johal, who has been detained for five years without trial.
The minister, Rehman Chishti, also declined to say whether UK security services passed on information that led to the kidnap of Johal, who is accused of conspiracy to murder and being part of a terrorist gang.
Lawyers for Johal, from Dumbarton in Scotland, say he was tortured, including being given electric shocks, after his unlawful arrest in the Punjab in 2017. The campaign group Reprieve, which is representing him, disclosed last month that it had uncovered documents that are before the high court suggesting MI5 and MI6 tipped off the Indian authorities about Johal.
The alleged roles of Johnson, MI5 and MI6 were raised on the floor of the House of Commons on Wednesday. Catherine West, a shadow foreign minister, said: “The allegations in recent weeks of the potential collusion of the British intelligence service in the arbitrary detention of Mr Johal are deeply worrying. The house will expect the minister to be clear on whether the former prime minister [Johnson], under whose watch this occurred, we believe, authorised sharing this intelligence with the Indian government when he was the foreign secretary.”
The Conservative former minister David Davis called on the government to review its policy towards torture and its complicity in the practice.
“The allegation is that the British government was complicit in provision of information to the Indian government, knowing that it might be used for torture and in a capital case,” he said. “The point here is that this is not the first time this has happened.”
Martin Docherty-Hughes, Johal’s MP in West Dunbartonshire, said claims regarding the UK government’s involvement “posed a multitude of hard questions” for the new prime minister, Liz Truss, given she was formerly foreign secretary. “Like hundreds of thousands of UK citizens of Sikh ethnicity, the Singh Johal family travel to India every year, yet now they must wonder if it’s safe for them to continue to do so,” he said. Read the full story in The Guardian.