The common law of England has prohibited the use of torture for more than six centuries1. Nevertheless, torture was used with official approval in England in treason cases, and certain other serious offences against the state, under the Tudor and Stuart monarchs in the 16th and 17th centuries: existing records confirm that warrants for torture were being issued by the English Privy Council from about 1540, and warrants for torture were also issued by the King under his own signet (although this practice ceased in the mid-17th century)2. The Privy Council issued no torture warrant after 1628, and the
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