The Ministry of Defence is facing a Judicial Review over the framework of support it provides to service personnel facing judicial process.
Hilary Meredith, CEO of Hilary Meredith Solicitors Ltd, has been instructed by clients currently subject to judicial process and investigations to consider bringing the Judicial Review. Ms Meredith recently provided evidence at the Defence Sub Committee’s inquiry into the support offered by the Ministry of Defence to former and serving military personnel who are subject to judicial process.
At the Inquiry, MPs heard how investigators from the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) are turning up on family doorsteps and at barracks’ gates demanding information or threatening arrest.
In one harrowing incident they appeared at an ex-girlfriend’s house and interviewed her on whether her former partner had tattoos, was abusive or talked in his sleep. In another, they turned up at a barracks and threatened to arrest an officer despite the fact he was acquitted by an internal probe 10 years earlier. Even witnesses have been threatened with arrest, as the probe into alleged Iraq War wrongdoing has got completely out of hand.
As has been widely reported, Ms Meredith is representing a decorated major who faces prosecution for manslaughter over the death of an Iraqi teenager 13 years ago.
The decision by IHAT to consider charges comes despite a military investigation as long ago as 2006 that cleared him (and two others) of wrongdoing.
A spokesman for no 10 this week insisted that IHAT was independent and said anyone from the forces involved would receive support, including legal advice.
MP Jonny Mercer, a former soldier, responded by saying: “This is definitely not the case.”
Prime Minister Theresa May today said she will not allow an “industry of vexatious allegations” against UK troops over claims of abuse in Iraq.
She insisted that action had been taken to address false claims and IHAT’s work would be completed by the end of 2019, after a review of the system by former Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir David Calvert-Smith.
While welcoming the Prime Minister’s announcement, Ms Meredith believes the support currently provided by the Ministry of Defence is wholly inadequate and says our troops are being left to “hang out to dry”.
Commenting on the Judicial Review, she said:
“I passionately believe that the Ministry of Defence should be held to account when it fails our servicemen and women.
“The Ministry of Defence should be standing behind all our servicemen and women facing judicial process. A framework of support and assistance needs to be put in place.”
Having consulted with veterans, she is calling on the Ministry of Defence to guarantee the following:
1 – The right to a framework of help and support for serving and ex-military personnel to include, Chain of Command, welfare and medical support.
2 – The right to independent legal advice.
3 – The right for funding for such advice.
4 – The right to a fair trial.
5 – Time limits be imposed on these cases.
6 – The rights promised to military personnel under the military covenant to be upheld.