British Prime Minister David Cameron announced Tuesday that Britain will hold an inquiry into allegations that the country's security services knew about the torture of terrorism suspects overseas.

Mr. Cameron told Parliament he wants to clear up "once and for all" the allegations that British security services have been complicit in torture.

He said an independent judicial inquiry will begin as soon as related criminal investigations and civil law suits have been concluded. "It will look at whether Britain was implicated in the improper treatment of detainees held by other countries that may have occurred in the aftermath of 9/11 [September 11, 2001]," he said.

Twelve former detainees have brought civil law suits against the government.  They allege that British intelligence agents operating in foreign countries were complicit in their mistreatment.  

Mr. Cameron said an investigation is needed to redeem Britain's reputation. "The longer these questions remain unanswered, the bigger the stain on our reputation as a country that believes in freedom, fairness and human rights," he said.

Tom Porteous with the international monitoring group Human Rights Watch calls the investigation an important move from Britain's new coalition government.  He says the Labor Party, which was voted out of power in May, had not dealt with the issue.   "The Labor government simply refused to hold an inquiry at all and they also just issued blanket denials about the allegations," he said.

Mr. Cameron also said his government will look again at how British courts handle intelligence.  Earlier this year, a British court ordered publication of secret information about the U.S. interrogation of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee.  Mr. Cameron said the court order had caused "strain" with the Obama administration in Washington.