this is bbc news. i'm rico chakrabarti. the headlines at 11pm: the government apologises for britain's role in the detention of a libyan man and his wife in 200a. abdul hakim belhaj was later tortured after their forced return to the country. translation: it's been six years of prison and six years of waiting, which was a continuation of the suffering for me and my family. hopefully today it represents the end of all that. fatima boudchar, who was pregnant at the time of her capture, said the apology by the attorney—general was historic. on behalf of her majesty's government, i apologise unreservedly. we are profoundly sorry for the ordeal that you both suffered and our role in it. donald trump welcomes home three us citizens released by north korea. the president is set to hold an historic meeting with north korean leader kimjong—un in singapore next month. interest rates on hold and a cut to the growth forecast,
but the bank of england says the economic soft patch is temporary. delays for cancer patients because hospitals across the uk are failing to meet their targets on waiting times. on newsnight, we'll take a detailed look at a new and heated battle over abortion in the uk. it concerns the protests outside clinics. are they an expression of free speech or harassment of women? we hear anti—abortion campaigns here are being inspired by their american counterparts. good evening and welcome to bbc news. the government has formally apologised to a libyan dissident and his wife who were forcibly taken to libya in 2004 in an operation which involved the cia and mi6.
abdul hakim belhaj and fatima boudchar were handed over to the gaddafi regime during the so—called war on terror. today the attorney—general told mps there'd been an out—of—court agreement and a full and final settlement for the appalling treatment they suffered. our security correspondent, gordon corera, reports. after yea rs of after years of damaging revelations and court battles, the government finally faced up to one of the more disturbing episodes of the recent past. here at the british consulate, i've been talking to the man at the centre of the story. in istanbul, britain's ambassador stands alongside abdel hakim belhaj, a man who says britain colluded in the six years of torture he suffered in a libyan prison. the handing over of a letter from the prime minister and a handshake signals the closing of a dark chapter for the british government as it finally admits what it did. at the same moment, mr belhaj's wife came to parliament.
with her was the son she was pregnant with when she too was seized and sent to libya. it has taken nearly a decade and a half for mr belhaj and his wife to hear this unprecedented apology. on behalf of her majesty's government, i apologise unreservedly. we are profoundly sorry for the ordeal that you both suffered and our role in it. the uk government has learned many lessons from this period. mr belhaj told me he was grateful for the apology, even though it had taken so long. translation: it's been six years of prison and six years of waiting, which was a continuation of the suffering for me and my family. hopefully, today represents the end of all that. the story begins with another handshake, between tony blair and colonel gaddafi in 200a.
the libyan leader gave up his nuclear weapons programme. britain promised to help him against his opponents. the same month, mr belhaj, who had fought against gaddafi, was detained by the cia in asia based on a british tip—off. he and his wife were flown to libya. she was soon released, but he says he was then tortured over six years by colonel gaddafi's regime and also interrogated by british officials. after gaddafi's fall in 2011, letters from mi6 to libyan officials were discovered detailing britain's involvement. six years ago, mr belhaj launched a legal action against the british government, mark allen, an mi6 officer named in the files and jack straw, who was foreign secretary at the time. today, jack straw acknowledged he had given verbal approval for some intelligence to be shared, but says he had always acted lawfully. whether he was fully briefed by mi6 remains unclear. outside parliament, lawyers who had worked with the family described
the day as a victory for everyone who opposes injustice, secret detention and torture. the uk lost its way when it got mixed up in the rendition of an innocent pregnant woman and an anti—gaddafi dissident, but today, i think it stood on the right side of history by recognising its mistakes and by apologising. while his wife received compensation of £500,000, mr belhaj said he did not want money, just an apology. and today, he got it. it has taken years to get to this point. parliamentary enquiries failed to unearth the story and it was only the fall of gaddafi's regime that brought it to light, and still the government sought to keep it quiet. today's settlement, though, may leave some questions unanswered, including how far
politicians authorised the operation oi’ politicians authorised the operation or if the spies were acting on their own. today, though, the government will be hoping this settlement draws a line under the past, past in which deals with dubious regimes led britain and its spies into difficult places. our correspondent gordon carrera there. the meeting between president trump and the north korean leader kim jong—un will take place in singapore on the 12th ofjune. mr trump said the day would be a very special moment for world peace. the announcement came after the president welcomed home three americans who were detained in north korea. nick bryant reports. in the middle of the night, before the birds or the president had started tweeting, the plane carrying the freed prisoners touched down on american soil. from the trauma of detention to a triumphant welcome from donald trump, he didn't want to miss this dramatic homecoming, for offers flesh and blood proof that his unconventional approach to diplomacy is working. my proudest achievement will be — this is a part of it —
but will be when we denuclearise that entire peninsula. this is what people have been waiting for, for a long time. nobody thought we could be on this track in terms of speed, so i'm very honoured to have helped the three folks. this was a made—for—television moment, but the white house quickly turned it into cinema. slow motion footage, rowsing hollywood—style music. the former reality tv star claimed this must have set the all—time record for ratings at 3am in the morning. north korean state broadcaster didn't have quite the same panache, but these are remarkable pictures, nonetheless. kim jong—un meeting the new us secretary of state mike pompeo in pyongyang. the leader mocked as little rocket man, enjoying a lighter moment with the americans, ahead
of his summit with mr trump. vice president mike pence has been talking about us expectations for that meeting. the president senses an opening that may result in a historic agreement. what kim jong—un has said, publicly, and in discussions, is that he is prepared to negotiate to achieve complete denuclearisation of the korean peninsula. so, the north korean leader's security team will soon be pacing the streets of singapore, the venue for the summit. but has enough diplomatic legwork been done to make it a success? the bank of england says the uk economy has hit a temporary soft patch, which means interest rates will remain unchanged at 0.5%. an increase is still expected later this year. the bank blamed the bad weather, the beast from the east, for the slowdown which disrupted construction and kept shoppers at home.
our economics editor, kamal ahmed, has more details. time for a different tune from the bank. # i want money...# three months ago, all the noise was about an interest rate rise. not any more. three months of weak growth dragged down by the beast from the east has left people cautious about the strength of the economy. here in newark, it might be sunnier now, but will it last? the cost of living is going up quite significantly, and the wages really aren't. i think it will take quite a bit of time before hopefully it will get easier. the governor made clear things haven't been easier for the first part of the year. growth at 0.1% in the first quarter of this year was much weaker and inflation at 2.5% in march was notably lower than we had projected in february. the key question is whether this softness will prove temporary or persistent. in other words, was the weakness in the first quarter due to the weather, or the climate?
the bank thinks it's mostly snow, others are not so sure. for us, there's things that the weather doesn't quite explain and the statisticians said that today. they said, look, we can't tell what the impact of the weather was, but probably for things like manufacturing it was minimal, so there's something else goes on as well. later i asked the governor was the sharp growth downgrade a one—off? we expect that the uk economy is going to pick back up, not rocket back up, but pick back up, largely driven by those exporters and businesses investing, less so on household spending, and a consequence of that, we think in the end we'll need to do some adjustment, some increases in interest rates. you can't say for definite? yeah. but it's likely an interest rate rise this year? yeah, it's likely that over the course of the next year, you've been described as the unreliable boyfriend, you march us half way up the hill, saying interest rates around
the corner, and you march us back down again, no, they're not. how do you respond to those criticisms? there's uncertainty in the world. it is possible of course, that something bad could happen abroad. it is possible that the brexit negotiations could go in a certain direction that slow the economy for a period of time and it has been reliable for the bank to then react to those event, and adjust. the bank will look again at interest rates injune, in august and november. if the economy has bounced back, be ready for a rate rise on one of those dates. kamal ahmed, bbc news. latest figures show hospitals across the uk are failing to meet their targets on waiting times for cancer treatment. patients urgently referred for treatment should be seen within two months but the number having to wait longer than that has risen by nearly 18% in the past five years. our health editor
hugh pym has been hearing from people about their experiences. i had breast cancer ten years ago, but fortunately, i'm a survivor. i lost my father 23 years ago. once you get used to it, you learn to take it on board, but it's the most frightening thing they ever diagnose with you. it affects so many of us in different ways, personally, and friends and family. half the population will develop a cancer at some stage in their lives. my grandfather died, unfortunately, of lung cancer. it upsets me the most when i see kids... with cancer. ron is losing his battle with liver cancer. he was diagnosed injanuary last year, but had to wait till october for any specialist care near his home in cardiff, far longer than the two—month nhs target for the start of cancer treatment. they've well exceeded their 30 to 60 days. during that time he says the tumour got larger and doctors then admitted there was no chance of any therapy working. it's annoying to think they might have given me another three to four years to live if it had been treated
when it was only five centimetres. it was a fast—growing, malignant cancer. death comes to all of us, so we shall crack on, keep smiling and do what we've got to do. across the uk, the number being treated for cancer has increased over five years, but so too have those facing long waits. in wales, for every ten waiting more than two months to start treatment, there are now two more. in england, there's been an increase of more than seven in ten. in northern ireland, the number has more than doubled. in scotland, long waits have gone up by even more over five years. cancer experts make the point that people are living longer, so they're more likely to develop cancer, and that's a challenge for the nhs. we're diagnosing more patients and because our workload is extremely high, we are under pressure with regards to treating patients with an aggressive disease. so we do need more resources. in england, cancer treatment waiting
times did improve in march, though some other areas of the nhs struggled. the number of operations cancelled at the last minute was the highest since records began. we put our lives, as it were, in their hands. we think they're doing the right thing, and all this time we're being misled. ron and his wife, ann, can only reflect on their experience. the local health board said it had apologised for breakdowns in communication, but said all decisions made were clinically necessary. they feel, though, that the system let them down. hugh pym, bbc news. the head of the health service in the republic of ireland has announced he's stepping down following failures in a cancer screening service. tony o'brien had been under pressure since it emerged 208 women who had cervical cancer should have received earlier intervention. 17 have died. in a statement tonight, mr o'brien said he had made his decision to avoid any further impact to the delivery of health and social care services.
now it's time for newsnight with evan davis. mps want to debate, not over abortion but anti—abortion protests. just how close to the clinics should they be able to go and what is a cce pta ble they be able to go and what is acceptable behaviour?” they be able to go and what is acceptable behaviour? i have been able to carry a model of my dash of able to carry a model of my dash of a ten week—old fetus in my pocket because you come over that conversation, it is a clump of