UK soldiers unlikely to be prosecuted over Iraq war crime claims now deserve an apology

British soldiers who have been accused of committing war crimes in Iraq are unlikely to face criminal prosecution.
Independent investigators were asked to look at thousands of allegations made against the British military after the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
But the director of the Service Prosecution Authority (SPA) said just one remaining case was being examined.
Andrew Cayley said the “low level” of offending and lack of credible evidence had led most cases to be dismissed.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Law in Action programme, Mr Cayley said most of those cases were sifted out at a very early stage because of the lack of credible evidence or because the offending was “at such a very low level”.
More than 1,000 cases were made by former lawyer Phil Shiner and his firm Public Interest Lawyers (PIL). In 2017 he was struck off as a solicitor after a tribunal found him guilty of misconduct and dishonesty, including false accounts about the actions of UK soldiers.
In 2014, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda re-opened a preliminary examination of cases involving alleged British abuses in Iraq.
Mr Cayley said he was “convinced” that examination would soon be completed without any further action.
An investigation by BBC Panorama and the Sunday Times last year spoke to 11 British detectives who said they found evidence of war crimes.
The so-called new evidence came from inside the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), which investigated alleged war crimes committed by British troops during the occupation of Iraq, and Operation Northmoor, which investigated alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.
Solicitor Hilary Meredith, CEO of Hilary Meredith Solicitors and Visiting Professor of Law and Veterans’ Affairs at the University of Chester, represented soldiers investigated by IHAT, and provided evidence to the Parliamentary Inquiry which led to its closure.
Said Hilary:
“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.”
Continued Hilary:
“Solicitor Phil Shiner, who masterminded countless false claims, was struck off the role of solicitors for good reason – he was found guilty of charges including dishonesty over false witness accounts about UK soldiers’ actions.
“What’s more, the detectives employed to investigate IHAT were part of the Red Snapper team.
“Red Snapper detectives threatened soldiers with arrest despite having no such power, and intimidated troops after falsely introducing themselves as police. Their conduct was nothing short of a disgrace and their credibility to make further vile slurs against our troops is non-existent.”
Talking about BBC’s Panorama programme, Hilary said:
“The new evidence presented by Panorama had no credibility whatsoever.
“The so-called IHAT detectives interviewed by Panorama were civilian investigators from staffing services provider Red Snapper, a company paid over £20 million for its discredited investigation on behalf of IHAT.
“The conduct of Red Snapper’s investigators was heavily criticised during the Parliamentary Inquiry into IHAT. The Inquiry heard how they turned up on family doorsteps and at barracks’ gates demanding information or threatening arrest, when they had no legal authority to do so. Soldiers who left military service many years ago, and had settled into civilian life were subjected to bully-boy tactics by investigators posing as detectives and falsely accused of unlawful killing. The only conviction that arose from IHAT was of one of its private investigators for impersonating a police officer.”
Concluded Hilary:
“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.”