Torture Probe Outrage; Euro Watchdog to Check on Deaths in Police Custody

Article excerpt

Byline: STEVE DOUGHTY

AN ANTI-TORTURE group was under fire last night after it ordered an investigation into the behaviour of British police.

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture has sent an emergency inquiry team to Britain to ask why police officers have not been prosecuted over the deaths of two prisoners in custody.

The investigation, during which the French-based organisation can question anyone it wants, looks certain to lead to criticism of Britain's human rights record. But critics yesterday demanded to know why its members from Eastern Europe, with long histories of Communism or large-scale repression, felt qualified to judge procedures here.

Julian Brazier, the Tory MP for Canterbury, said: 'I don't believe representatives from Turkey, Bulgaria, or even, dare I say it, France, have anything to teach us about treatment of prisoners.' The inquiry will consider the deaths of Nigerian asylum seeker Shiji Lapite, in Stoke Newington, North London, and South London market trader Richard O'Brien, who suffocated during arrest.

It will also look at the case of Derek Treadaway, who won [pounds sterling]50,000 compensation after being 'suffocated to unconsciousness' in an attempt by the disgraced West Midlands Serious Crime Squad to make him confess to robbery in 1982. …