UK Officials have decided to drop investigations into almost 60 claims of unlawful killings by UK soldiers who served in Iraq.
The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), set up in 2010 to examine claims of murder, abuse and torture during the Iraq war, has decided not to proceed in 57 cases, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed. A further case was stopped by the military’s service prosecuting authority.
Conservative MP Richard Benyon said facing such claims constitute “an intolerable burden for people who have served their country well, knowing they’re innocent.”
However, Lt Col Nicholas Mercer, the army’s former chief legal adviser in Iraq, has criticised the crackdown on legal claims against Iraq veterans. He said the claims were not false and raised issues of “very high importance”, including the abuse of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mercer pointed out that the government has paid out £20m for 326 cases. “Anyone who has fought the Ministry of Defence knows they don’t pay out for nothing. So there are 326 substantiated claims at a cost of £20m, and almost no criminal proceedings to accompany it. You have to ask why,” he said.