Source: Daily Mail
10 June 2009
By: Stephen Wright
Six Scotland Yard officers have been accused of inflicting torture by ‘waterboarding’.
Four suspects are said to have been subjected to simulated drowning during searches of two properties for drugs.
The technique became notorious for its use by U.S. agents on terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay. It has since been banned by President Obama.
It is alleged that the Met officers, who have all been suspended, also repeatedly ducked the suspects’ heads in buckets of water.
Most of the alleged victims are believed to have been foreign nationals detained in North London last year.
Scotland Yard has asked the Independent Police Complaints Commission to investigate the claims which, according to informed sources, are being treated very seriously.
One insider said: ‘It beggars belief that something like this could be going on in the modern Metropolitan Police. It appears certain officers on this squad were completely out of control.
Last night senior sources at the Metropolitan Police Authority confirmed that the torture allegations concerned waterboarding. It is understood that local community leaders have been informed that this is the case.
Waterboarding entails a prisoner being strapped to a board with his feet raised above his head. His face is covered by a wet cloth as interrogators pour water over it to give the sensation of drowning. Victims are led to believe they are about to die.
The allegations are a huge embarrassment to the Met which is currently investigating claims made by a former Guantanamo detainee, Binyam Mohamed, that he was tortured in U.S. custody. He has since returned to the UK.
Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson’s first four months in charge of the force have been dogged by a series of controversies including allegations of police brutality over the death of a protester at the G20 summit.
Anti-terror chief Bob Quick’s enforced resignation and the shambolic arrest of Tory MP Damian Green have added to his problems.
Since taking over from Sir Ian Blair, Sir Paul has spoken candidly about his desire to crack down on corruption in the ranks.
An internal Yard inquiry has also been launched into the torture claims – which has already raised concerns about the apparent lack of supervision by senior Met commanders.
The torture claims are at the centre of an expanding investigation into alleged institutional corruption among some officers on the Enfield borough crime squad at Edmonton police station in North London.
In February, nine officers based at Edmonton were suspended in connection with an alleged stolen property racket.
The torture allegations – involving six of the suspended officers – came to light as a result of further inquiries into the activities of the crime squad.
Last night, the IPCC confirmed it is ‘investigating the conduct and actions of six police officers during the execution of two drugs warrants at addresses in north London on 4 November 2008’.
It added that: ‘During a Met investigation into allegations of the mishandling of property by the crime squad on Enfield Borough, watchdog officials were briefed regarding the actions of police officers involved in the execution of this specific warrant.
The allegations are a huge embarrassment to the Met which is investigating torture claims made by a former Guantanamo detainee, Binyam Mohamed, that he was tortured in U.S. custody
‘The case was referred to the IPCC on April 3 and on that date a decision was taken that a fully independent IPCC investigation would begin in to these specific actions and conduct matters that were alleged to have taken place.
‘So far IPCC investigators have conducted house to house enquiries, appealed for witnesses and taken a number of statements.
‘This is an ongoing criminal investigation and as such all six officers will be criminally interviewed under caution.’
Asked whether the torture allegations including waterboarding, an IPCC spokesman replied: ‘We are not speculating on the nature of these allegations.’
A Scotland Yard spokesman said last night: ‘The Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards received information from a Met employee which raised concerns about the conduct of a small number of officers on Enfield borough.
‘The Met’s DPS then initiated a thorough investigation and as part of this made a referral to the IPCC in April 2009
‘The IPCC is independently investigating the actions of six officers during the arrests of five people in November 2008.
‘Whilst the investigation is ongoing it is not appropriate to make assumptions. That said these are serious allegations that do raise real concern.
‘The Met does not tolerate conduct which falls below the standards that the public and the many outstanding Met officers and staff expect.
‘Any allegations of such behaviour are treated very seriously, as this case illustrates, and if found true the strongest possible action will be taken.’
Sources say the wider allegations of corruption at the crime squad at Edmonton date back three years.Republish