Defense Ministry Settled 417 Iraq War Compensation Claims This Year | Military

The Ministry of Defense quietly settled 417 Iraqi compensation claims and paid out several million pounds to resolve accusations that British troops subjected Iraqis to cruel and inhuman treatment, arbitrary detention or assault.

The individual claims that have been settled number in the tens of thousands and follow high court decisions which concluded that there had been violations of the Geneva Conventions and of human rights law during the period. of the military operation that followed the 2003 invasion.

Martyn Day, a senior partner of Leigh Day, the lawyers who brought the action, said: “While we have had politicians like David Cameron and Theresa May criticize us for allegedly running in an ambulance, the Department of the Defense quietly settled the complaints.

“The regulations here cover a mix of cases, cases of forcible confinement, assault,” the lawyer added. “What this shows is that when it comes to keeping the police in a foreign state, the military is just not the right people to do it.”

Many details of these cases remain confidential, although one concerns the death of a 13-year-old boy. However, the financial settlements were based on four test cases concluded in the High Court in 2017. The four were awarded a total of £ 84,000 based on three separate incidents.

At the time, an applicant was awarded £ 33,000 by Judge Leggatt for unlawful detention and it was determined that he had been beaten in 2007 by “one or more tools”, probably rifle butts.

Two Iraqi merchant seamen received payments after their detention in 2003: one received £ 28,000 after an assault and a hood, while a second received £ 10,000 because they had also been hooded.

Most new claims also involve a balaclava – where a sandbag or other balaclava is thrown over an inmate’s head. The practice was banned in 1972 by Ted Heath, while he was Prime Minister, although some British soldiers admitted they were unaware of the order while serving in Iraq.

The Defense Ministry has made no public announcement on the claims, but an official disclosure released this week showed the civil actions had been resolved. He noted that 417 “Iraqi private law” claims had been settled in 2020-2021 and 13 others concerning Afghanistan.

However, there is no prospect of criminal action following the 417 Civil Settlements, after several years of often politically charged debate over the conduct of British soldiers in Iraq during the years of combat operations, which came to an end. in 2011.

The government shut down the historical allegations team in Iraq in 2017, following the conclusion of the controversial al-Sweady investigation three years earlier.

This investigation revealed that the allegations that British troops murdered Iraqi detainees and mutilated their bodies had been fabricated. The lead lawyer who had filed these claims, Phil Shiner, was subsequently struck off.

In April, the government passed the Foreign Operations Act, which introduced a presumption against criminal prosecution for five years after the event and a long term stay to prevent civil suits from being brought after six. years.

At one point, Day and two colleagues were also charged with professional misconduct for the way they filed a complaint, but the three attorneys were exonerated after a hearing in the attorney’s disciplinary court.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense said: “While the vast majority of UK staff have held themselves to the highest standards in Iraq and Afghanistan, we recognize that it has been necessary to seek negotiated settlements of outstanding claims in both the Iraqi civil litigation and the Afghan civil litigation. “

They added that the military police and the prosecution service remained open to examining criminal allegations if new evidence emerged.

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