Wednesday 21 February 2018

'I was a torturer in North,' says Tory politician

Former army officer Bob Stewart said he had been 'kind of a torturer' when he was posted to Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Stock Image: GETTY
Former army officer Bob Stewart said he had been 'kind of a torturer' when he was posted to Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Stock Image: GETTY

Sam Lister

A senior Conservative MP who served as a soldier in the North claimed torture is sometimes "justified" and can work as an interrogation method.

Former army officer Bob Stewart said he had been "kind of a torturer" when he was posted to Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

The former colonel said techniques like sleep and food deprivation could be acceptable in certain situations. He told Emma Barnett on BBC 5 Live: "We don't like torture. No one likes torture. Not even Trump likes torture. But the fact of the matter is . . . sometimes it might work, and sometimes it might be justified.

"I don't agree with waterboarding but a certain amount of persuasion might be justified if someone, for example, had the knowledge about where a nuclear weapon that was going to explode in London was," he added. "That is where I suggest that people might say a certain amount of persuasion could be justified.

"I'm qualifying it all the way through.

"In circumstances where a great number of people, or indeed one person, is going to be killed, you have to think very carefully about what pressure you can put on people in order to give that information to stop people's lives being lost."

Asked about the types of torture techniques that might be suitable in those situations, he replied: "Sleep deprivation. Lack of food. Perhaps, as I've done, showing people pictures of their friends that have been blown up. That sort of thing."

Mr Stewart completed seven operational tours of the North during the Troubles. He told the programme: "Technically, as you look at it today, I was a kind of a torturer.

"Of course, it was acceptable then. It's now unacceptable and now it's defined as torture."

It comes after US President Donald Trump indicated his support for waterboarding.

He is understood to be preparing to order a review of interrogation methods and the possible reopening of "black site" prisons outside the US.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who meets the new US president today, said Britain would not back away from condemning torture, regardless of the approach taken by Trump's administration.

Irish Independent

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