CLAIMS that a Scottish citizen was detained and tortured after the UK intelligence service tipped off Indian authorities are to be examined in a secret court. 

Jagtar Singh Johal – also known as Jaggi – has been imprisoned under India’s anti-terrorism laws since he was arrested in the country in November 2017.

He is accused of helping to fund a Sikh-on-Hindu assassination plot – a claim he has strongly and consistently denied.

The West Dunbartonshire local faces nine charges, including conspiracy to murder (an offence which can result in a death sentence).

However, despite being detained for more than five years, he is still awaiting trial.

The United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has said that Johal’s detention “lacks legal basis” and claimed he has been subject to torture.

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Now, Johal’s lawyers say that an anonymous case study published in an annual report by the UK’s Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office bears considerable similarities to the Scottish prisoner's case and may show that the UK handed over information about Johal to Indian authorities.

The 2018 annual report, which was published in 2020, set out a case study which details how MI5 and MI6 passed information about a British national to a “liaison partner”.

The national in question then told officials at the British consulate that he had been tortured before the detention was raised with the UK prime minister at the time.

Although the individual is not named in the report, Johal’s lawyers from the firm Leigh Day said the similarities are striking and that the timeline matches up.

Indeed, reports in the Indian press informed by Indian police briefings suggest that information on Johal was handed over by a UK source.

The lawyers are now seeking a court apology from the UK Government over its handling of the case.

However, officials from the Foreign Office have refused to confirm or deny the transfer of any information, saying it would not be within the national interest to do so.

Their defence claim in response to Johal’s lawyers also casts doubt on Johal’s allegations of torture, saying he looked “fine”.

But Johal’s brother, Gurpreet, says that at the time of this description he was told by consular staff that Jaggi could not speak freely and had whispered to them about mistreatment.

This is despite the fact that the Foreign Office has previously accepted the torture allegations to be truthful, with an official saying in an e-mail to Gurpreet in 2017 that Johal had whispered to him about “mistreatment”.

"For years, Ministers and consular staff have been telling me they take Jagtar's torture claims seriously and that there should be an independent investigation," he said. 

"So for the lawyers to question that, now that it's come out that Britain's intelligence services might have played a role in his abduction, is very hurtful. It's at times like these that I wonder if they care about my brother at all."

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Former Conservative home secretary David Davis said: “This case raises troubling questions about the role played by the UK’s intelligence services in the abduction and torture of a British citizen overseas.

“It is telling that the government is willing to say nothing at all about what happened to Jagtar but has sought immediately to move the case into a secret court.

“I am also disheartened to see the government casting doubt on Jagtar’s very credible claims of torture and mistreatment, when the [Foreign Office] has raised these so many times with the Indian authorities.”

A date is yet to be set for the hearing.

We previously told how Foreign Secretary James Cleverly refused to commit to seeking the release of Jaggi in January this year.