War crimes British soldiers unlikely to face criminal charges


British soldiers touched by ‘vexatious’ war crimes allegations relating to the 2003 Iraqi conflict are not at risk of criminal prosecution after investigation by independent investigators reveals lack of evidence

  • Only one case is still under examination despite 1,000 lawyers’ claims
  • SPA chief Andrew Cayley says it is “entirely possible” that there will be no prosecution

More than 1,000 war crimes charges laid against British soldiers in Iraq have been dismissed – only one case remains unresolved, we learned today.

Former lawyer Phil Shiner and his public interest law firm have made more than 1,000 claims involving the British military after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

But independent investigators have since rejected almost all of the allegations due to the “low level” of crime and the lack of credible evidence.

British soldiers are photographed in Basra, Iraq in December 2004. More than 1,000 war crimes charges laid against British soldiers in Iraq have been dismissed

British soldiers are photographed in Basra, Iraq in December 2004. More than 1,000 war crimes charges laid against British soldiers in Iraq have been dismissed

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Law in Action program, Director of the Public Prosecution Authority Andrew Cayley said that although a case was still pending, he was “ quite possible ” that the charges ultimately do not result in prosecution.

Mr. Shiner was removed from the bar in 2007 after being found guilty of misconduct and dishonesty regarding false allegations of abuse against British troops.

Cayley also told the program that he was confident that no action would be taken in a separate investigation by the International Criminal Court into the allegations of abuse of British soldiers.

“I have a feeling that these questions are coming to an end; (ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda) will close the preliminary examination for Iraq and the United Kingdom this year, “he said.

Former lawyer Phil Shiner (file photo) and his public interest law firm have made more than 1,000 claims involving the British military after the 2003 invasion of Iraq

Former lawyer Phil Shiner (file photo) and his public interest law firm have made more than 1,000 claims involving the British military after the 2003 invasion of Iraq

The fall of the British tank destroyer Phil Shiner

He once boasted that he had “not accepted a single case which turned out to be a trial”.

But in a dramatic fall from pardon, human rights lawyer Phil Shiner, 61, was struck off the list of lawyers for a series of misconduct charges.

The father of five established his public interest law firm (PIL) in Birmingham in 1999 and ran it until it closed in August 2016.

In 2007, at the height of his career, he was named Lawyer of the Year.

He continued to make himself known by suing the government at the expense of the taxpayer. His company has forwarded hundreds of allegations of crime by British troops in Iraq, many of which have been dismissed.

The beginning of his fall was marked by a press conference in February 2008 which paved the way for the Al-Sweady investigation of £ 25 million. Shiner alleged that the military illegally killed, tortured and ill-treated innocent Iraqi civilians in a clash known as the “Battle of Danny Boy” in 2004.

However, in December 2014, the judge responsible for the public inquiry concluded that the allegations were “completely and entirely unfounded”.

The Ministry of Defense then forwarded an overwhelming case on the PIL to the Solicitors ’Regulation Authority (SRA), which opened an investigation.

In April 2016, the SRA concluded its investigation and Mr. Shiner was referred to a disciplinary court for “serious allegations of professional misconduct”.

In August of the same year, his legal aid was withdrawn by the government, forcing him to close his business. In February 2017, he was struck off after being found guilty of professional misconduct.

Phil Shiner, owner of the late Public Interest Lawyer (PIL), attempted to dodge a £ 7 million bill by offering his house, two guitars, works of art and a bunch of money .

But the government’s insolvency service managed to recover nearly £ 500,000 and sold the former lawyer’s house.

He “initiated false claims for damages” against the Ministry of Defense and former soldiers who alleged “fictitious murders and acts of torture”.

He was removed from the legal profession in 2017 following a disciplinary court which he did not attend and is left with a huge bill due to the taxpayer, the watchdog of lawyers and others.

Shiner, 64, formerly named Lawyer of the Year, was found guilty of professional misconduct three years ago for his role in the counting of cases against the troops.

The human rights lawyer, who made his name by prosecuting the government at taxpayer expense, has been repeatedly accused of dishonesty by wrongly accusing soldiers of war crimes.

Mr. Shiner’s firm hired clients for a public inquiry into the allegations of abuse, but then reached a “ lucrative ” deal with Leigh Day, which continued claims, said a court in 2017.

Leigh Day then recovered the profits from pursuing British troops between PIL and an intermediary.

Shiner made the vast majority of the 3,380 allegations of wrongdoing by British troops to the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT).

He received millions of pounds of public money but failed to get a single conviction – but caused misery for hundreds of veterans.

The lawyer was charged with 12 counts of misconduct proven against him by the solicitors’ disciplinary court, including “cold calls” to find potential complainants in Iraq and payments to change the evidence.

Shiner’s company made more than £ 1.6 million to prosecute allegations of unfounded torture and murder which cost the government £ 31 million to investigate.

Boris Johnson promised to protect ex-servicemen from “ vexatious demands ” when he entered number 10 in July.

On the day of the armistice, last November, in the grip of a hotly contested election campaign, the Prime Minister made a commitment to amend the Human Rights Act in order to protect veterans from hunting.

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