FORMER Blackburn MP Jack Straw has admitted his part in events leading to a Libyan dissident and his pregnant wife being handed over to Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi in 2004.

On Thursday Prime Minister Theresa May made an unprecedented apology to Abdul Hakim Belhaj, imprisoned and tortured for six years, and Fatima Boudchar.

Mr Straw, Foreign Secretary at the time, has confirmed he gave verbal approval for the MI6 tip-off that led to their kidnapping in Thailand by US secret services who handed them over to Col Gaddafi’s security forces

The couple had sued him and senior MI6 officer Sir Mark Allen after documents discovered in the Libyan capital Tripoli confirmed UK involvement.

Mr Straw said he understood they would be treated ‘humanely’ and is ready to answer questions from senior MPs on the affair.

He said: “I welcome the withdrawal of the proceedings against me brought by Mr Belhaj and Ms Boudchar. I recognise the events they describe will have been deeply distressing.

“As Foreign Secretary I was responsible for approving or authorising a wide range of matters to protect our national security.

“Although my recollection is limited, what is clear is that on March 1, 2004, my approval was sought for some information to be shared with international partners.

“In almost every case such approvals were made by me in writing, on the basis of written submissions. However in rare cases of great urgency, oral submissions could be made and oral approvals given by me. This is what happened on this occasion.

“In every case where my approval was sought I assumed, and was entitled to assume, that the actions for which my approval was sought were lawful. This included, in appropriate, cases obtaining assurances as to the humane treatment of those concerned.

“This case clearly raises serious issues. However I remain constrained for national security reasons as to what further I can say publicly.

“I was interviewed as a witness by the police in the course of its investigation, and I provided a full account of my knowledge of the circumstances. Equally I would be happy to provide this account to Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee if requested to do so.”