Dr Liam Fox is Conservative MP for North Somerset. Follow him on Twitter.
The images of hooded, shackled, boiler-suited detainees in Bagram and Guantanamo which shot round the world in the years after 9/11 undoubtedly had a widespread effect. For some, ‘National security’ became a dirty word. Doubt crept in about the integrity of our services, and about the rules under which they operated.
For Conservatives in particular, that period raised difficult, and without exaggerating the point, painful questions. We have long been proud of our services: tough and effective on the ground, respected the world over. We have also been immensely proud of the concept of British justice which is the bedrock of our success as a nation. Above all we have jealously guarded our reputation as a nation renowned for a deeply imbued sense of fair play.
But these assumptions were thrown up in the air amid the suggestion that we might have been involved in any form of mistreatment. Adding to that shock, we also have had to come to terms with the fact that our courts are simply not equipped to deal justly with allegations of this nature.
In one of his earliest statements to Parliament in 2010 the Prime Minister made clear that this situation could not continue. “The longer these questions remain unanswered, the bigger will grow the stain on our reputation as a country that believes in freedom, fairness, and human rights.” He set out a clear plan to stop the rot and “restore Britain’s moral leadership in the world.” This is what the important Justice & Security Bill, which reaches its Report Stage in the Commons tomorrow, seeks to achieve.