Government 'was obliged to pay £1m to terrorist'

The disclosure that the government paid £1 million compensation for unfair detainment to a British suicide bomber who was operating for so-called Islamic State seems scandalous.

But a senior lawyer with a close knowledge of the case says the then Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, would have felt he had no choice - in that failure to make the out-of-court settlement with Jamal al Harith would have resulted in highly sensitive security information being disclosed in a court case.

He said ministers felt sick at the time at having to make substantial payments to al Harith and to other former detainees of the American Guantanamo Bay camp.

However, the alternative would have been to humiliate the UK's security partner, the US - because evidence would otherwise have come out in court about the US security services using torture and other questionable techniques to obtain information about the alleged nefarious activities of al Harith and other Guantanamo prisoners.

Detainees at Guantanamo bay Credit: AP

"What was particularly frustrating was that in some cases our security services had legitimate evidence that these former Guantanamo detainees were wrong 'uns, but could not disclose it because in doing so they would also have had to disclose damaging information about the activities of their American counterparts", said a lawyer.

He added, however, that the law has now been changed, via the 2013 Justice and Security Act, to prevent compensation payments being payable to the likes of al Harith. That legislation makes it possible for highly sensitive and confidential security information to be heard and considered in private by judges.

The source said that if the situation arose today, al Harith would not be paid a penny.