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Former Libyan rebel commander Abdul Hakim Belhaj receives apology from British government

Adbul Hakim Belhaj, a Libyan dissident, and his wife Fatima Boudchar, have received an unprecedented apology from the British government for its actions contributing to their rendition to Libya, detention and torture by Colonel Gaddafi’s forces in 2004. It was alleged that an MI6 tip-off led to them being abducted by the US in Thailand when Mr Belhaj and Ms Boudchar were attempting to board a flight to London.

St Philips Stone’s Rachel Toney acted as a Special Advocate in the private law claim of the Belhaj litigation.

The Prime Minister Theresa May said, in a letter read out in the House of Commons by the attorney general Jeremy Wright on Thursday 10 May 2018, that British actions had contributed to the couple’s capture, and that the government had “shared information” about them with “international partners”. Ms Boudchar and the son with whom she was pregnant at the time of the rendition in 2004 were present in the House of Commons, together with their legal team, to hear the apology.

The letter stated that: "It is clear that you were both subjected to appalling treatment and that you suffered greatly, not least to the dignity of Mrs Boudchar, who was pregnant at the time".

The Prime Minister admitted that the UK "should have done more to reduce the risk" of the pair being mistreated, adding: "We accept this was a failing on our part. On behalf of Her Majesty's government, I apologise unreservedly." The announcement in Parliament is unprecedented in that it is the first time ministers have apologised for a specific act involving British Security Agencies.

This matter has received considerable press attention, please see the BBC, The Telegraph, and The Guardian’s coverage.

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