13 December 2005 – Home Secretary Jack Straw lied to the House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, telling MPs that “there simply is no truth in the claims that the UK has been involved in renditon, full stop.” It was not until thirteen years later, on 28 June 2018, that the Intelligence and Security Committee finally published its report into the UK’s role in rendition and torture,  revealing Britain’s direct involvement in hundreds of rendition and torture cases

In at least three instances MI6 and MI5 offered to help pay for rendition flights, in another thirteen British intelligence officers were present while detainees were being tortured, on 232 occasions British agencies willingly forwarded questions despite knowing or suspecting the detainees were being brutally mistreated and in another 198 cases they happily received intelligence even though they knew it had been gained through torture.


Late in the evening of 13 December 1955, Field Marshal Sir John Harding, the newly appointed governor of Cyprus, banned AKEL (the Progressive Party of the Working Class), a communist organisation, even though it was the only significant Greek Cypriot political organisation opposed to EOKA (the National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters), a nationalist guerrilla organisation which was the driving force behind the anti-British insurgency on the island.

In an operated codenamed “Operation Lobster Pot,” 128 AKEL leaders were detained by British troops in surprise night time raids across the island (1), including the party’s General Secretary Exekias Papioannou (who had previously worked as a waiter in Soho) as well as Georgios Christodoulides (the mayor of Larnaca) and Costas Partassides (the mayor of Limassol). By 16.40 on the following day only 35 known communists were still at large. The party’s newspaper Neos Democratis, was closed down, AKEL properties siezed and the party’s funds frozen. Workers in Nicosia protested against the mass arrests but police fired tear gas to disperse them. (2)


  1. John Newsinger (2015), “British Counterinsurgency,” Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, p99.
  2. Christopher Sutton (2017) “Britain’s Cold War in Cyprus and Hong Kong: A Conflict of Empires,” Palgrave Macmillan, p187 and “Communist Leaders Arrested in Cyprus,” The Coventry Evening Telegraph, 14 December 1955.


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