By Danjuma Aliyu
A Libyan man has won the right to sue the UK Government in connections with torture and kidnap.
Abdul-Hakim Belhaj, a prominent opponent of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, claims that the British intelligence service, MI6, which the former foreign secretary, Jack Straw was responsible for, helped the US kidnap him and his wife.
Mr Belhaj, the leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group said the operation took place in 2004 when Tony Blair, the British prime minister, was enthusiastically befriending the Libyan dictator.
The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the government’s appeal and backed a Court of Appeal ruling allowing Mr Belhaj’s action.
“UKSC dismisses Gov’t’s appeal v Belhaj/Rahmatullah: Gov’t not entitled to rely on Foreign act of state doctrine,” @UKSupremeCourt said via it’s verified twitter account.
The government lost a four-year battle “before the Supreme Court in Belhaj and Boudchar v Straw and Ministry of Defence v Rahmatullah concern the alleged complicity of United Kingdom authorities and officials in various torts, allegedly committed by various other states in various overseas jurisdictions.”
The Supreme Court ruling said the allegations were so serious they had to be heard before a British court because, if not, they may never be heard anywhere else in the world.
“The critical point in my view”, ruled Lord Mance, in the lead judgment, “is the nature and seriousness of the misconduct alleged.” He added: “English law recognises the existence of fundamental rights.”
“No free-man shall be taken, or imprisoned, or dispossessed, of his… Liberties… or be outlawed, or exiled, or in any way destroyed… except by the legal judgment of his peers, or by the laws of the land,” Lord Mance quoted in his ruling.
Lord Neuberger gave a concurring judgment, with which Lord Wilson, Lady Hale and Lord Clarke agree.
Lord Sumption adds a further concurring judgment, with which Lord Hughes agrees.
The full judgment of the Court is the only authoritative document.
Judgments are public documents and are available at: http://supremecourt.uk/decided-cases/index.html