British government officials expressed embarrassment and anger at Washington last night after they were forced to admit that US rendition flights carrying terror suspects for secret interrogation had twice landed on British soil.
In an apology to the Commons, David Miliband, the foreign secretary, told MPs that contrary to "earlier explicit assurances" two flights landed at Diego Garcia, the British Indian Ocean territory where the US has a large air base, in 2002. He said the flights had been mistakenly overlooked in previous US internal inquiries carried out at the UK's behest.
A senior American official said the renditions had come to light only when CIA flight crews were interviewed directly. John Bellinger, chief legal adviser in the US state department, said CIA officials were now "as confident as they can be" that no other detainees had been flown through Britain on secret rendition flights over the past six years of America's "war on terror".