The truth about British Army abuses in Iraq must come out

Legal & Justicesource: The Guardian
published: 3 October 2016

In the past few days a number of politicians and former generals have criticised the so-called hounding of British soldiers by what they claim are just money-grabbing lawyers launching ill-founded cases into alleged wartime abuse.

Criticising the work of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (Ihat), Tim Collins, the retired colonel who led British troops in Iraq, said the allegations were being made by “parasitic lawyers”. Theresa May has said she wants to end the “industry” of vexatious claims. And Tony Blair, who launched the military action in Iraq and Afghanistan, said: “I am very sorry that our soldiers and their families have been put through this ordeal.”

This is an orchestrated narrative: cases are carefully selected and dropped into the public domain, and the press and public lap them up. The reality, of course, is somewhat different.

First, the idea that the claims are largely spurious is nonsense. The Ministry of Defence has already paid out £20m in compensation to victims of abuse in Iraq.

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