Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has claimed that there was tacit British approval of the torture of terrorist suspects in Pakistan, while extracting vital information from them.
Musharraf's revelations in a BBC programme, to be telecast later on Monday, cast doubt on Britain's public stance that countries should not torture British citizens on its behalf.
Sir David Omand, UK security and intelligence co-ordinator from 2002 to 2005, said, "I am very clear we are not and have not been complicit in torture and I'm in no doubt that all the countries concerned, including Pakistan and the US, were very well aware of what British policy was, which was we don't do this and we don't ask other people to do it."
But, Musharraf said he had no recollection of having been told by the British government that the ISI should not use torture on British subjects. He said, "Never. Never once, I don't remember it all. Maybe they wanted us to continue to do whatever we were doing; it was a tacit approval of whatever we were doing."
There have been claims that Britain was complicit in the torture of terror suspects in other countries, including Pakistan.
The claims are to be examined by an independent inquiry chaired by former appeal court judge Sir Peter Gibson.
Musharraf, who was president of Pakistan from 1999 until 2008, said on the BBC programme titled, The Secret War on Terror, "We are dealing with vicious people and you have to get information. Now if you are extremely decent, we then don't get any information...We need to allow leeway to the intelligence operatives, the people who interrogate."
When asked is the end justified the means to extract information from suspected terrorists who are reluctant to talk, he said, "To an extent yes."
Terror suspect Binyam Mohamed was arrested in Pakistan in 2002, suspected of plotting a terrorist attack and later detained at Guantanamo Bay.
The BBC reported that Mohamed claimed he had been hung by his wrists, beaten with a leather strap, and subjected to a mock execution; all with the knowledge of the UK Security Services. He says the admissions he later made were false and the result of torture.
Some of the detainees who have since received compensation from the British government claimed they were tortured in Pakistan and forced into confessions by ISI.
However, former director general of MI5, Baroness Manningham-Buller said, "There was no tacit approval of torture. I think this raises a much broader question. Al Qaeda is a global threat. To counter it, we need to talk to services throughout the world".