Over 1,000 war crimes accusations against army are dismissed

More than a thousand war crime accusations tabled against British soldiers in Iraq have been dismissed, with only one case remaining to be resolved, the director of the Service Prosecution Authority (SPA) has said.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 2nd June 2020, 9:57 am
Updated Tuesday, 2nd June 2020, 10:53 am
Soldiers being deployed
Soldiers being deployed

Former lawyer Phil Shiner made more than 1,000 claims involving the British military following the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Law in Action programme, SPA director Andrew Cayley said independent investigators had since dismissed almost all of those allegations due to the “low level” of offending and a lack of credible evidence.

Mr Cayley said although one case was still being considered, it was “quite possible” the accusations will ultimately result in zero prosecutions.

Mr Shiner was struck off as a solicitor in 2017 after being found guilty of misconduct and dishonesty relating to false abuse claims against British troops.

Mr Cayley also told the programme he was confident no action would be taken in a separate International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into alleged abuses by British soldiers.

“My sense is these matters are coming to a conclusion; (ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda) will close the preliminary examination this year in respect of Iraq and the United Kingdom,” he said.

Solicitor Hilary Meredith, the CEO of Hilary Meredith Solicitors who represented soldiers investigated by the defunct Iraq Historic Allegations Team (Ihat), called for a public apology over the probe.

She said: “At long last, this witch hunt is coming to an end. Thousands of lives have been ruined as a result of these false claims.

“The Ihat probe, which hounded hundreds of innocent troops over vile war crime slurs, was closed down in 2017. Thousands of lives were ruined by the £57m unit set up in 2010 to pursue allegations of wrongdoing during the Iraq War. But it did not result in one prosecution.

“Andrew Cayley has now drawn the same conclusion saying that there is no credible evidence of wrongdoing.

“Ihat’s closure also came at a price – not only the cost to the taxpayer but the shattered lives, careers, marriages and health of those falsely accused over many years. I am now calling for a meaningful, public apology.”