I think I’m missing something. I’ve read a couple of pieces online and in the papers about the complaint by Reprieve that Sir Peter Gibson should recuse himself from the torture inquiry on the basis that his former involvement in the oversight of the intelligence services as Intelligence Services Commissioner puts him in a conflicted position. And I’ve read extracts of the Treasury Solicitor’s response that are set out in today’s Guardian. It seems clear enough to me – there’s an appearance of bias. Perhaps it would be clearer if I read the whole letter (I can’t find it reproduced anywhere on the web) but I’m struggling to understand the merit in the government pointing out the lack of a legal duty to satisfy tests of impartiality and independence (although I suspect in fairness they were doing this in response to specific questions posed in Reprieve’s letter). Regardless of what prompted that assertion, it rather begs the question: if the inquiry is neither impartial nor independent what exactly is its purpose?