Peter Hoskin

The curious case of the Guantanamo Bay pay-outs

The curious case of the Guantanamo Bay pay-outs
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What to make of the out-of-court settlement that has been paid to around a dozen former detainees of Guantanamo Bay? According to unofficial reports, taxpayers might have to shoulder £10 million as a result. One of the men is thought to be receiving £1 million.

The explanations seeping out of Westminster are understandable enough. Security chiefs, we're told, were keen to avoid a lengthy process – not just because it could mean more cost for the taxpayer, but because it would drag the practices of our intelligence services out into the public realm. David Cameron, speaking on the matter in July, highlighted that Mi5 and Mi6's time could be spent more usefully than sifting through documents in preparation for a court case.

But, to my mind, there are other implications arising from this. From one perspective, we have perhaps the clearest statement yet that the coalition wants to distance itself – and quick – from the anti-terror controversies which plagued the last government. From another, the backroom nature of this resolution will only stir up what Alistair Campbell used to call "this huge stuff about trust" – the idea that we are not getting the complete picture. I suspect very few observers, on either side, will be satisfied by this outcome.