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Under section 134 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, the offence committed by a public official (or someone with the official's acquiescence) of intentionally inflicting severe physical or mental suffering on any person anywhere in the world. It carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Under this Act, the accused had a defence if he proved that his conduct was legally authorized, justified, or excusable. However, the prohibition on torture as set out in Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights is now part of UK law as a consequence of the Human Rights Act. This right is an absolute right, and torture can never be justified as being in the public interest, no matter how great that public interest might be. Public authorities have a limited but positive duty to protect this right from interference by third parties. In December 2005 the House of Lords unanimously overturned a ruling by the Court of Appeal to the effect that evidence obtained under torture in other jurisdictions could lawfully be admitted in British courts (A and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department (No 2) [2005] UKHL 71, [2006] 2 AC 221). See also deportation.

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