UK soldiers unlikely to be prosecuted over Iraq war crime claims
A top prosecutor says all but one of thousands of claims from the 2003 invasion have been dismissed.
Close share panelImage copyrightGetty ImagesBritish 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 Actionprogramme, 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.
The Iraq War's hard lessonsMr Cayley said seven remaining cases had been referred to the SPA, but in six of those cases it was concluded that no charges should be brought.One case is still being considered, but Mr Cayley admitted that it is now"quite possible" that none of the original allegations will lead to a prosecution.
Mr Cayley also said he is confident a separate investigation being conducted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague will conclude this year without further action being taken.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.He said:"My sense is these matters are coming to a conclusion; she will close the preliminary examination this year in respect of Iraq and the United Kingdom."
The cloud hanging over British service personnel accused of wrongdoing has already left a bitter taste and contributed to political pressure to do more to protect soldiers on the battlefield from criminal and civil prosecution for alleged actions which took place years ago.
'Vexatious claims'Earlier this year the government presented a bill promising to curb historic allegations and tackle what it calls"vexatious claims" against armed forces deployed overseas.The bill proposes a five-year time limit on any criminal prosecution unless compelling new evidence is brought to light.
In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said it was strongly opposed to service personnel and veterans being subjected to the threat of repeated investigations and potential prosecutions.Veterans minister Johnny Mercer said the bill was introduced"to reduce the uncertainty currently faced by service personnel and veterans in relation to historic allegations" - and aimed to make sure"that we never end up in a situation like this again".
But human rights groups and some lawyers have already expressed concern - saying the legislation could place the military above the law, and undermine existing international conventions.David Greene, vice-president of the Law Society, said a balance must be struck to ensure charges are only brought when warranted.
But he added:"The argument behind time limits for British service personnel deployed overseas is that there has been a rise in historic prosecutions. Based on Andrew Cayley's comments the evidence for such an assertion is lacking." Read more: BBC News (UK) »
Haven't we got more important things to worry about than our brave soldiers killing terrorists,maybe the people stirring this up should go to the front line Shock horror but not surprising in the least More brit cover ups! We cannot even prosecute Tony Blair. He needs to be prosecuted first before anyone else.
Fck me it is a slow news day... Maybe have a day off at the beach then start again tomorrow. Genuine war crimes need to be investigated. Vexatious claims do not. This has been all about vexation. “Unlikely” needs to become “cease”. Hope Piers Morgan doesn’t see this he likes making up stories of our armed forces
They should proscecute warcriminal Blair who gave orders for this unjustified invasion in Iraq on pretence of possession of chemical wapens, which they never found They, US/Uk left anarchy, chaos and ISIS, and this Blair still claims, that the world is beter off without dictators The crime was going there in the first place. Blair was wrong. Post 9/11 where was the revenge attack on Saudi Arabia? 15 Saudis 2 UAE 1 Lebanese 1 Egyptian. Anyone remember 'shock and awe' in any of those nations.
The ones accountable are the government that sent them there... Has anyone told campbellclaret he will be so angry No one should be above the Law at any time, in any circumstances, unless we're to accept the law of the jungle. it's was Blair's war Totally correct The only person that should be trialled is tony blair
Murdering bastards Only unlikely? Should be definitely. You do not punish those who protect and serve Some good news for once That was a war... no one prosecutes anyone for anything... During civil war... no one persecutes anyone either.... Good, now do the same for the bogus claims against the NI veterans.
shamed on u Imagine going to jail for serving your country war criminals walking free Oh what a surprise. Not. Dear BBC whats your problem? Soldiers are man made machines to defend to fight to kill, For a reason (good). So you cant make them, calm, peaceful, loving men before pulling trigger, soldiers doesnt enjoy killing humans, countries and politics made them so stop bn over sensetive
The people who authorized it should The Iraq war was 100% illegal.... War crimes gone unpunished ..... There is no justice in this world..... but surely they will be punished for everything they did in hereafter. ** Brilliant announcement by our 'top prosecutor'. In the middle of BlackLivesMatter, we are told that IraqiLivesDontMatter. So, our boys did no wrong to the Arab civilians for years in Iraq?! I suppose it's difficult to prosecute if there were no photos or witnesses!
Makes sense as it's Tony Blair that should be prosecuted. Together with George Bush Jr. Tactical tweet. Picked the perfect time BBC. disgrace Before we even consider prosecuting soldiers let's nail Toney Blair to the wall. Have him mounted and stuffed then placed on display at the home office. Well if they didn't charge Blair why should they charge us considering we wouldn't of been there if he hadn't sent us illegally in the first place just ask chilcott
Blair and Bush in the dock they put our troops in the shit Same as the PM at the time of the Iraq war has escaped prosecution then. Any party in charge at the time would have gone with America because any party wouldn’t have the guts not to! That was then! Not now! Time for a change seems to be happening and America is not the ruler it was anymore! Only one person to blame for that! Gump
Awesome Proper and right. Go to the top. Blair who sent them on a wild goose chase. Disgraceful. The Iraqi war was certainly carried out under false pretences but that is the fault of the Govt of the day at the time not the soldiers who executed it. I would guess that war crimes allegations in this situation would be hampered by lack of credible evidence and witnesses.
Get Sir Forensic to prosecute then, Labour like prosecuting soldiers (but not child abusers) The iraq was was illegal War crimes go unpunished ..... There is no justice in the world..... but surely they will be punished for everything they did in hereafter. Not surprised Our democracies that allow us to run over international law when it suits.
Great. War criminals walk amongst us. Amazing...
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