PODCAST: It was revealed last month that the Ministry of Defence had quietly settled hundreds of compensation claims estimated to be with several million pounds last year to Iraqi citizens claiming to have been detained, beaten up and subjected to inhumane and cruel such as hooding and stress techniques. This all happened whilst ministers were pushing forward with the Overseas Operations which came into law in April and restricts the chances of such claims arising in the future.
In the latest episode of the Justice Gap podcast, Justice Gap editor Jon Robins talks to Martyn Day, senior partner at the firm which brought the cases and who has been vilified in certain parts of the press as a ‘tank-chasing lawyer’. Dami Ojuri also talks to Clive Baldwin, senior adviser at Human Rights Watch about war crimes and holding the military and politicians to account.
- The episode was produced by Dami Ojuri and Calum McCrae.
- Picture of an Iraqi detainee bound in a netting. In 2005 three British soldiers were convicted of abusing civilians at the camp and dismissed from the army. This image was from the cameras of a British soldier.
‘History will treat the army and politicians around this period very badly,’ Martyn Day told Robins. ‘They have been reprehensible in the way they’ve responded to these claims.’ According to an MoD bulletin published last month, 417 Iraq ‘private law claims’ had been settled during 2020-21 and a further 13 relating to Afghanistan.
‘Here we are in Iraq nearly 1,000 claims successfully resolved so far, the death of Baha Mousa at the hands of British troops and we’ve only ever had one person who has done time. On anybody’s terms that does not say much about British justice.’
Day and together with two colleagues were cleared of allegations of professional misconduct over the Iraqi claims after a three-year investigation by the Solicitor Regulation Authority and a seven-week trial believed to have cost £10m. The solicitor Phil Shiner from the law firm Public Interest Lawyers was struck off.
Day says Shiner did some ‘daft things’ but ‘undoubtedly was caught up in the maelstrom’. The lawyer reckons the investigation into his own firm was politically motivated and insists that it was ‘plain as a pikestaff’ that his firm should have been cleared. ‘[The SRA] thought it would do them a lot of good prosecuting us alongside Phil Shiner and his firm. In the end, they came a cropper.’
Clive Baldwin of Human Rights Watch told Dami Ojuri that nobody had been prosecuted. ‘It is a very bad precedent on an international level. There is the concept of command responsibility when those in positions of command, including ministers, who can prevent war crimes should be held accountable and could be prosecuted. None of this happened in the 20 years of British abuses being exposed.’